The news stormed a bit around the issue of Dr. M. Dajani taking a group of Palestinians students to the Auschwitz in Poland recently. Regardless of the reactions, if it was a courageous action!!! Or an act of collaboration; the debate might go on. Sadly speaking, we are in a situation, where the broad outlines of what used to resemble our nationality as Palestinians have been sabotaged since quite some time.
The whole concepts used for the conflict business have been as well exploited, from peace to normalization. From war to the intifada. From a state to the territory. One is careful with every word he uses because the terminology of the phrase has been part of this industry.
Before I proceed, I would like to stress on the fact, that I am a person who takes pride in having friends who happened to be Israelis. I am free t have encountered and worked as well wit some Israelis. The few years I spent as a student at the Hebrew university have been the best years of my academic/social life, even though I was too incompetent as a student. And I am currently studying in an educational program with Israeli partnership.
This doesn’t mean that I am not against boycotting as a tool for pressuring the Israeli occupation. It is true as well that most of what has been done in this regard, locally, is immature, inconsistent, intolerant, inefficient and other terms that will pop later in my head. This doesn’t mean that the attempts of some people or groups are respected and valuable and efficient. It is also important to highlight here, that the international boycott campaign is a more robust, useful and fruitful move and it is funnily working well.
I insist on making my own statement here, knowing that many will oppose. I firmly believe that to solve the Israel-Palestine Question we need Palestinians and Israelis to do it. Palestinians and Israelis who honestly think that a solution that is based on justice should prevail. Such Palestinians and Israelis are not in the headlines of the news, and they are not in government cabinets, and they are not the Peacenik Brokers who have benefited from the situation and transformed it into profitable businesses in the last decades.
Some years ago, I happened to be part of a discussion with the U.N headquarters in Gaza while complaining about Hamas government for not allowing the Holocaust education in the curriculum. Entering Gaza for the first time, into what looked like a visual ghetto I suggested ‘ cynically’ that Hamas should allow the courses with assigning field trips to show them the entrance to Gaza as a real example of Ghettos.
A question remained in my head since then, what should I as a Palestinian learn from studying the Holocaust?
What am I supposed to learn from studying or understanding the injustice, murder, crimes committed against my oppressor? Should I justify his crimes against me? I know that when I understand my mother’s misery as in her earlier years, makes me let’s say justify her insecurities in her behaviors today. But she remains my mom. When I identify with the evil doings against the Jews in the Holocaust, does it make occupation an easier place? Should I thank them for not putting me yet in an oven and fry me? Should I ask them to mark my arms with signs that say I am Palestinian?
For years, I tried to grow into a more tolerant person, that I believe aim trying to become. However, I found it so unfair, and so unjust, to ask me as a Palestinian to look at the misery of the Jews that resulted In the creation of Israel in my own life and land, while I live every single moment of my life, a life f diaspora, racism, systemic ethnic cleansing, separation with barriers, checkpoints, and permits to move from one plot to another. When my life as a Palestinian is not far, if not the same or maybe worse than what the Nazi did. YES, I know we were not killed in millions. But in sixty years of occupation, Israel has performed and continues to perform what the Nazis did in centuries of European resentment to Jews.
I refuse to bring a Palestinian to see the Auschwitz in Poland and Israeli to a refugee camp. Sorry sir, the Auschwitz with all its cruelty, resembles a crime that you may mirror with the memories of the past. The refugee camp is the result of the creation of Israel. Our misery is not the same. We are asked to sympathize with our oppressor over crimes that others caused him.
As a matter of fact, this act backfires. Because, on a human level, I can resemble with an Israeli on many acts of life. We can sympathize with one another on losses. We can be happy for one another for special occasions. We can be friends, we can be colleagues, we can sometimes put politics aside and be just who we are PEOPLE. But the moment you tell me that I have to sympathize with a Jew, I cannot but see my own misery. Our corpses, our homes, our land are the demonstration of this problem. It feels like stomping over our corpses and making a show to the world pointing towards a documentary on the Holocaust, while the world is watching, it is our bodies, dead and alive that are being stumped. I see each and every face of Palestinian victims dead and alive with each scene I watch.
You cannot stump on me from one side, and ask me to be your audience from the other.
You cannot ask me to identify with a demonstration that I am suffering today by its heroes.
I need Israel and the world, to uplift its occupation from me first. I need to be treated like a human being first. I need to experience justice to be just in my emotions and judgments to others.
And I still insist, that there are causes that I am ready to fight for with my life that concern Israelis. Because peace is about two people standing on the same ground regardless of their weight or height. It is about two individuals who see each other as people. Individuals who look towards the other and see another regular human that he can deal or not deal with. And these people exist. And these people don’t need to show me the Auschwitz. Because the Auschwitz reminds them of me, in the cruelty of oppression, and thus … occupation .tion