Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bloggers Unite: Palestine and Human Rights

So, this is one of the things I really love about blogging. There's such a sense of community. There are awesome people you meet. Seeing the bloggers come together and try to keep consciousness of the plight of Fouad Al-Farhan points out what's so special about this blogging community. They care about some guy they've never met in another country. They care enough to mark the days of his incarceration. They care enough to talk and talk and talk, which is, after all, what blogging really is.

And so, today is Blog About Human Rights day and Blog About Palestine day. How exceptionally appropriate that those two fall on the same day.

I remember about 15 years ago, I heard Hanan Ashrawi on Larry King Live. This was shortly after the Oslo Accord had been signed. In response to one of Larry's questions, Hanan said of Israel, "just because it's state-sponsored doesn't mean it's not terrorism." I personally mourn the fact that Hanan's voice has been very quiet since the Palestinian state was formed. She was a calm voice of reason, well-spoken, and, frankly, female. Women find it easier to trust and understand other women...

I also remember on my first visit to Jordan nearly 13 years ago now the thing that made the biggest impression on me was a trip to Baka'a refugee camp outside Amman. I blogged about it almost exactly 2 years ago. I have hard time not crying every time I think of the folks who live there. As I remarked two years ago, Baka'a residents are "in transit". I had the saddest conversation about this the other day when talking about the new road the government is building.

(The last time El 3atal and I went through we had to take a huge detour around the camp because they're constructing an elevated roadway through the camp. In some ways, that's kind of appropriate, hunh? These people who spend their time waiting and waiting to go home get to watch outsiders speed by on their way home or to their farm for a "break". When do the people of Baka'a get a break?)

I was talking to a European guy and a Jordanian gal about the new road and it was so clear to me that the Jordanian had no understanding of these people. Now, I'm not the most sensitive American, but I get the people of Baka'a. I can imagine how heart wrenching it is to know you aren't home. Palestine is home. Their subtle form of protest speaks to me. The visible reminder to all that they are visitors in this land is meaningful in the way that a protest in front of an embassy or office will never be. 12 years later to see the same cinder blocks holding the same corrugated tin roods on the same worn out shops is amazing. Why would I build a real house on land that isn't mine? Really, why would I do it if it signaled to the world that I accept that I am home. Do you know, I lived in Louisiana for 8 years. I never expected to live in Alabama again, and yet, Louisiana was never home. I owned a house there, had all three of my children there, but it still wasn't home. I guess we Southerners are like the Baka'a refugees in that way. I didn't leave because I had to, yet I still knew that anywhere else I lived, it wouldn't be home. So, how sad that someone who grew up here in Amman can't see that.

For me, this is the tragedy that is Palestine. You have the people on the inside living in danger, turmoil, horrible conditions. You have the people in the camps living in danger, turmoil, horrible conditions. And all they did wrong was live on a piece of land that someone else wanted. All they did was demand rights, freedom, and RESPECT. All they asked for was basic human rights. And, so, today I join the other bloggers in uniting for human rights world-wide, for the cessation of Israeli aggression, and for the world to stand and pay attention. It is criminal that the only time most Americans think of the Palestinians is when an act of terrorism occurs. It is unforgivable that the only thing the average American knows about Palestinians is that some of them blow up planes and buses. Americans live next door to Palestinians who fear claiming their heritage, they see Palestinian culture adopted, adapted, and outright stolen by the Israelis ("Jewish Hamburger anyone? Felafel, the Jewish hamburger indeed!). And, the world would simply rather not see them.

I for one stand up for the Palestinians! I stand up for human rights! Here I am, count ME! And on this day blogging for such worthy causes, I will not remain silent, I will not talk about froofy Mom-topics. I will speak and pray and hope. I hope for my Palestinian American children's' sakes that there will be a solution in their lifetime. I hope I won't be showing their children the Baka'a camp. I sincerely hope I won't be explaining why they have no permanent homes and such sadness in their eyes. Those are my hopes...

Happy Unison!


At 6:56 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you. You are a true American. Compassionate, sincere, and always hopeful and positive. I just wish others would join you to help us, Palestinians, acheive our goals.

At 8:28 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

May God bless you for your amazing positions on issues that matter. You're such a treasure

At 10:11 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You found the words that escaped me. I will link you now, with a thankful heart.

At 10:24 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I salute you for the way you feel about Palestinians.
i wish there was more people like you around the world, things would have been much much better for Palestinians.

At 11:07 AM , Blogger UmmFarouq said...

Beautiful words. And the Baqa'a camp was supposed to be for temporary aid and assistance, back in 1967. 1967. Temporary means forty years.

At 7:28 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Thanks for the kind words, which I'm fairly certain I don't deserve. Maybe in my lifetime, we'll see some realistic solution to this problem. And, maybe in my lifetime the camp will cease to be... I hope temporary doesn't mean 140 years...

At 8:07 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually Falafel has been part of the diet of Mizrahi Jews (hundreds of thousands Jews who left Arab countries because of Arab persecution) for centuries and brought to Israel by them and now one of the national foods of Israel.Many of the older Mizrachi Jews in Israel still speak Arabic,but don't like Arabs in general because of the Farhud (massacre of 1941 in Baghdad) and other Arab persecution

Do visit Israrl momabean and see Israel for yourself.

Btw there were Salute to Israel parades in major USA cities this week.

---- A.

At 12:29 AM , Blogger Gila said...

I will forgo commenting on the history of the establishment of the State of Israel. I suspect that you have your worldview and I have mine and that these will never coincide.

However, in reference to the refugee issue, how much thought have you given to the whole concept of thousands of people still being stuck in refugee camps after 60 years? About 850,000 Jews were were forced to leave Arab countries at the same time. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced across Europe. Millions of people were displaced around the world-- this was a period of time when there was a fair amount of nation creating and population transfers. And yet....none of them seem to be living in refugee camps. They, and their children and grandchildren are all citizens of one place or another. With the exception of the Palestinians.

What is the reason you were given for the fact that, 60 years later, the Palestinians, rather than being active and productive citizens of Jordan, Lebanon or Syria...are still cooped up in refugee camps?

Not only is this crass and inhumane, it is downright stupid. The Jewish refugees from Arab countries have contributed immeasureably to every country that they went to and that welcomed them and gave them citizenship.

What do you suppose Jordan could have accomplished, if, instead of relegating the Palestinians to the position of "political tool", it said "Come brothers, help us to build our country." Even assuming that the Palestinians continued to fight for their right to return to Israel...why not at least grant them the status of citizens for the meantime?

Interesting links:

To me (and I should point out that I am neither a Jew from an Arab country nor Palestinian, but I am Israeli), the most reasonable solution would be to treat this as a population exchange. Have the Israeli government provide any compensation due to the Palestinians to the Arab Jews. Have the Arab governments provide any compensation due to the Arab Jews to the Palestinians.

At 11:47 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Anonymous, thanks for stopping by. I have, in fact, been to Palestine (and the parts that are modern day Israel). I have seen it, but I expect what I see and what you see are VERY different things.

Gila, I have no particular interest in debating such a topic as why Jews assimilated and Arabs chose to hold on to the dream of home. I assure you that I identify much more strongly with the latter than the former. I hope, perhaps, that one day young Israelis will think about these people in places like Baka'a. In fact, I hope that they will come and visit. It would be a good thing to see the faces of those who were forcibly ejected from their home and ever long to return. Come to Jordan, we'll help you see the human side of this dehumanizing situation.

At 12:37 PM , Blogger Gila said...

We rebuilt our lives because we had no choice. At the same time Jews were being kicked out of the Arab nations, other Jews were trying to get out of the Displaced Persons camps in Europe. Those that managed to survive the Holocaust tried to go home...only to discover that there was no one left AND that everything they owned had been taken away and that their homes had been taken by others. Combine this with the fact that there were literally millions of other refugees also looking for homes...suffice it to say that sitting around and crying was not an option. For that matter, the countries that did take us in saw as being far more useful to them as citizens than as captive political playing cards.

The Palestinians have not assimiliated into the various host countries because they are not allowed to. That is dehumanizing!

At 1:08 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Gila, thanks for stopping by.

At 3:26 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


Well done indeed.... You have written an oustanding article on this very special day.

I have read a lot of articles

and coments on May l5, and one of the most interesting is Rami Khoury's RESPECT WILL LEAD TO
STATEHOOD. I hope that you and your blogger friends will be able to find it on the internet. It was published in The National
Newspaper, May 16, in Abudhabi...

On the other hand, we still hope and pray for peace in the region, for without this peace, I really doubt that there will be peace in the world. The right to exist and to have a homeland, is the right of every person.

God bless you all.


At 5:57 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

|At the same time Jews were being kicked out of the Arab nations"

Is this the joke of this century?

"Those that managed to survive the Holocaust tried to go home...only to discover that there was no one left AND that everything they owned had been taken away and that their homes had been taken by others. "

So they go and do the same thing that happened to them to other people (Lets have our own holocost).

"suffice it to say that sitting around and crying was not an option"

Ofcourse not, lets rather go and burn and destroy 400 Palestinian villages and terrorize the hell out people and take their land, thats a lot more logical to do.

"For that matter, the countries that did take us in saw as being far more useful to them as citizens than as captive political playing cards. "

What countries took what in, being Jewish is not a nationality its a relegion.

"The Palestinians have not assimiliated into the various host countries because they are not allowed to. That is dehumanizing!"

Actually if you know anything about Palestinians, you would know how successful they are and how much they have contributed to the countries they are in today (including Israel) from Latin America to the Middle East to Africa to Canada.

I would suggest for you to get rid of your racism and hatered and read a bit and face reality.


At 6:24 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

And ofcourse the Nakbah still continues ...

Nice and touching post. It's always great to see someone else posting something about Palestine and helping raise more awareness.

At 10:21 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

TetaBean, glad you were able to drop in. Thanks for your comment, I'll see if I can find the article you mean.

Amin, indeed. I have no doubt that no matter what you (or I) say, Gila's mind will remain closeted in the terms of what she hears daily. While I understand it, I don't think there is value in debating point by point. Thanks for dropping in and taking that load off of me :).

May, of course, it does...


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