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Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Young People Relate Stories of Ongoing Israeli Ethnic Cleansing

Yesterday I received two stories in my inbox. One, an op-ed, courtesy of IMEU, written by Reed College sophomore, Celia Hassan, relating her ordeal at Ben-Gurion Airport and another e-mail forwarded by Bassem Khader to the Al-Awda list from Zeina Emile Sam’an Ashrawi. Both stories, although depressingly relating the ongoing ethnic cleansing courtesy of the Israeli government, are refreshing in that they with candor and simplicity relate for a western audience the institutional racism of the Israeli government.

I used excerpts from both stories to comment on the Guardian's CIF in response to the Zionist commentators that there was no ethnic cleansing in Palestine in 1947-48:

"The Nakba did not stop in 1947-48. It is a continuing process. When I was a college student in the late seventies, I visited my aunt and uncle in Ramallah. Even though I was travelling on an American passport, I was interrogated, strip-searched, and detained for six hours in Ben Gurion Airport. These measures were taken to convince me to think twice before returning to the land of my father's origin.

"Watch "The Easiest Targets" to learn about Israel's abuse of women and children at the airport and border crossings.

"In my inbox yesterday, a story from a Palestinian-American college student:

"'What's a nice, Reed College sophomore doing in detention at Israels Ben Gurion airport? I ask myself this during the hours I am held. What do I have in common with these dozen or so suspected security threats: the gray-haired women who whisper about their treatment, the 8-year-old girl, tears dried on her face and fear in her eyes, the 18-year-old traveling to see family? We have little in common except that virtually all of us are Americans.

"'But unlike Jewish Americans who breeze through customs in seconds, we are Palestinian-Americans. In treatment reminiscent of the Jim Crow South, we stand in a separate line, are harassed and intimidated. In Israel, the principles we cherish as Americans disappear; we are suspect because we are not the right religion or ethnicity. '

"And an excerpt from an e-mail that I received yesterday from a Jerusalem native, who had been studying in the states. Her request for a travel document was denied by Israel, and she relates her encounter with the Israeli government official in the US:

"'You want to go see your family and someone is telling you that you can't! What would you do? Forget that you're Israeli and that Im Palestinian and think about this for a minute! Sorry she said,I know but I cant do anything, the decision came from Israel. I tried to explain to her over and over again that I could not travel without my Travel Document and that they could not do that – knowing that they could, and they had!

"'This has been happening to many Palestinians who have a Jerusalem ID card. The Israeli government has been practicing and perfecting the art of ethnic cleansing since 1948 right under the nose of the world and no one has the power or the guts to do anything about it. Where else in the world does one have to beg to go to ones own home? Where else in the world does one have to give up their identity for the sole reason of living somewhere else for a period of time? Imagine if an American living in Spain for a few years wanted to go home only to be told by the American government that their American Passport was revoked and that they wouldnt be able to come back!'"

We need to listen to these young people. As Celia concludes her op-ed:

"When will America demand of Israel what we fought so hard to achieve at home — equal rights for all? Maybe we should start by demanding equal treatment for all Americans at Israeli airports."

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