Monthly Archives: October 2010

Me and My Israeli Cousin

In the early 1980s my father was illegally crossing the borders as he stamped his passport with forged seals of the countries he wished to visit, from Libya to Syria, from Syria to Amman, from Amman to Yemen, and from Yemen to Saudi Arabia, and there he settled for 16 years, though he did not remain in one place for long and carried on his habit, moving from Al-Riyadh to Jidda, and from Jidda to Tabook— where I was born, and lastly coming back home. His brother, meanwhile, had already settled himself in a land far more handsome and graceful, mild and sunny, all along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean sea than the baking wilderness of the Arabian Peninsula. He had already gained a wide reputation that recommended him the best T.V. technician in the Galilee. By then, he had his own shop, and diligently worked so as to preserve his place in that heaven; he feared nothing as the prospect of going back to a flaming Gaza. I care not how low, inconsiderate, and void of principles this man might be regarded, nor do I care how discreet and realistic his attitude toward life was. He married an Arab-Israeli girl of fifteen from Kofor Kana, who as she crossed our doorstep in Beit Lahya thirteen years ago had already brought him three sons and two daughters, who added up to the overall lot of the loosely connected extended family to which I belong.

That was the sole time I met my uncle’s family, and I hadn’t a clue I ever had an uncle from Israel! I was nine years in those days. “Israel” was something completely unlike the “Israel” I know, hear, meet and think of at the present. All I knew about Israelis— or “Jews” for I used the two words synonymously back then, and they are still thus used amongst the Palestinians, especially little children like me at that time who knew nothing of the huge disparity between the two terms, grannies, and illiterate people; all I knew about “Israel” is that they were the most hated enemy to me, the worst enemy I could ever think of. Continue reading