This post is not about yoga, meditation, or healing and transformation. It is part of a continuing “Filipina for Palestine” series from my personal blog that I am carrying over to this website.
Yesterday, May 11, was World Keffiyeh Day, so I decided to reiterate my support for Palestians all over the world by writing this post.
A few months ago my boyfriend (Mohamed) and I were on the island of Gili Meno in Indonesia where we had dinner with a scuba dive master from Argentina with whom we went in the water with just that morning. He said he grew up Jewish but does not belive in a single religion anymore. Nevertheless, for some reason, he decided to open up a certain topic this way:
“I’m not saying that what Israel is doing isn’t horrible, because it is. But when you think about it, Palestinians deserve it.”
I was shocked speechless at that point and wish I could have said something, anything, to tell him what an illogical statement that was (to say the least). I had to stay quiet however, because at that point, I knew if I had spoken, I would have exploded and became incoherent which I knew would not do justice to the cause I am passionate about and what I really wanted to say.
I admire how Mohamed was able to keep up a conversation with this Zionist without losing his temper. Here was a man who grew up in the South of Lebanon when Israel occupied his country. He saw armed Israeli soldiers around his small town as he grew up. And because he lived so close to the issue and educated himself, he held space for a conversation which I wish I had the skills to carry like he did.
I still cannot look back on that night without my blood boiling but even though I am months delayed, I want to get out at least some of these points which I wish I had the courage, patience, and eloquence to say that night and to anyone else who uses these arguments to support their bigorty against Palestinians.
1. Palestine didn’t exist before the British created it. They don’t even have the letter “P” in Arabic.
My boyfriend corrected him and said even if you choose to believe that [ridiculous assumption], the people for sure were there and had a thriving culture before the British came.
I wanted to add, by his argument, he could say that the Philippines didn’t exist before Spaniards named it after their king. We don’t have an “F” sound in most of our pre-colonial alphabets. Does that mean that if those colonizers decided to kick out the indigenous population, they had a right to because supposedly we didn’t exist before we were named “Las Islas Filipinas?”
2. Why don’t Palestinians accept what the world voted and declared?
To this I did not stay quiet and told him to tell that to all the children who were woken from their beds in the middle of the night to the sounds of gunfire and the sight of their families and neighbors being slaughtered as they fled their homes 69 years ago (and there were even soldiers going village to village killing Palestinians even before the 1947 Nakba).
These millions of displaced people should suck it up because other people who wanted Israel to be established [so that it can be engulfed in flames in the end times as written in the book of Revelations] had a vote?
3. My boyfriend asked this man, what would he do if he was kicked out of his home because other nations made a vote? — He said he would accept it and maybe protest peacefully, like Ghandi.
I am all for peaceful protest, but be careful of the people you put on a pedestal. Ghandi, for all the good he did, was a racist mysoginist who believed black people were worthless and women (like his own wife) should not recieve life-saving medical treatment.
There was much more that was said during his 3+ hour conversation which will be too long of a post to get into but my point in writing this is, I wish I had been able to vocalize these points and add to this heated conversation which Mohamed navigated through so well without once raising his voice. (And even though I do not agree with anything the other man said, I must acklowledge as well that he did not resort to personal attacks like others I’ve encountered who share his views.)
I am a believer in open and compassionate communication to bridge differences and make steps towards justice and change. At the end of the night when we said our goodbyes, the man genuinely thanked Mohamed for his patience and told him that even though he still holds many of his beliefs, Mohamed did educate him on many things about Islam and the history of the Middle East which he had not known before.
And sometimes, that is all we can do. Educate people on the things that they didn’t know they didn’t know. And that, I hope, can make a world of difference for the future.