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Friday, 18 September 2009

you are not allowed

Anyone who reads this blog semi-regularly or knows about the issues in Israel-Palestine will know that anyone who has been out of Palestine for six years will not be allowed back in by Israeli authorities. As far as I am aware, though of course those who colonised both Australia and the United States committed acts of genocide and murder, I do not think that any of the indigenous population were not allowed to re-enter the country of their birth and the country of their ancestors' birth, generation after generation, if they chose to leave it for a while. That is the overall country from the western perspective, of course. I am sure that there are Aboriginal and American Indian nations and lands within what became Australia and the United States that the indigenous population were barred and evicted from.

Education is difficult to get in a land under occupation, though Palestinians do strive to educate their children. Even so, to get ahead many leave the area to study overseas. Doing a bachelor of arts, a master of arts and a doctorate all take time. I have written of my friend Toufiq, before, a lecturer with a PhD in linguistics, currently in Oman, fortunate enough to have a Jordanian passport, and soon to immigrate to Canada where, he will at least, have a country.

Considering the state of Israel came into being in the forties of the last century and anyone who wishes to live there, who is of the Jewish faith, or of Jewish ancestry, and their spouses, whether they are from Sydney, the Bronx, or Moscow, can do so, must invoke a particularly bitter chagrin in those denied entry into their land of birth, and not only the land of their birth but the birthplace of their parents and grandparents stretching back to as far as people have lived in the area, or near enough.

During the summer holidays, Toufiq and his family go to Jordan. His sisters come from Palestine, when they can, and another brother, Bassam, comes from the United Arab Emirates. Sometimes the brother working in Saudi Arabia comes as well. Considering that this might be Toufiq's last summer in the region for a while, maybe it was with certain sadness that he realised that his sisters wouldn't be visiting Jordan this time. In his words:
Many times I talked to all my brothers and sisters in Palestine over the phone and asked them to come to Jordan to see us but they said that every year they come to Jordan in the hope to attend Bassam's wedding but nothing happens. So they said if Bassam gets married , they will come to Jordan and if not, they won't.
He comes from a big family. Ten brothers and sisters and Bassam is the only unmarried one among them. He too is highly educated with a doctorate in linguistics.

So, this time around, Toufiq thought he might try and visit Palestine, though in a previous email he had told me he probably would not be able to gain entry. I wrote about it here. This is his account of his thwarted trip.
As you know the last time I left Palestine was in 1984 when I finished my high school and went to Manila to do my bachelor's degree. In the first week of this month (August) I went to the borders of Israel and an Israeli female security soldier returned me [sic] and told me that I am not allowed to enter Palestine and I [got upset] and told her that I am Toufiq from Palestine and I was born and grew up in Palestine she said You are not allowed and she took my passport and gave it to a bus driver and told him to take me to [the]Jordan border.
Yes, Australia exiled Aboriginal people to islands and took children and isolated groups of people. Did it bar them from re-entering the country if they had voluntarily left and now wanted to return? I don't think so. In other ways yes. We had systems similar to the apartheid that exists within the occupied territories. Aboriginal people used to need a licence to travel, to work, and had a curfew imposed. Some of our current policies are incredibly discriminatory. Again, I would not call the policies and times ideal, then and now. I don't agree with them, in the same way that I do not agree with the policies above, in accordance with my belief in the contents and intentions of the Declaration of Human Rights, and the purpose behind the United Nations. And I am constantly saddened that my government fully supports the government that imposes policies which match and currently go beyond its own history of indigenous abuse and apartheid, and fully supports the same government which constantly flaunts and ignores the edicts and writings of international law and human rights organisations.

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this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr