Friday, March 23, 2012

Restraining Order on Love

Written by: Hanadi Qawasmi – Occupied Jerusalem in Arabic 
See Hanadi's blog:
Translated by me

Take a moment to reflect on your knowledge of the Israeli occupation in Jerusalem, Palestine. What comes to mind? You most certainly recall the news of a Palestinian neighborhood being demolished and replaced with an Israeli settlement. You possibly think of the assassination of a young man, in the essence of his youth for no justifiable reason, or the ruthless arrest of children for their nonexistent “political involvement.” Yes, many thoughts race through your head when you hear of the occupation, most of which you have ingested from the media, completely dispersed of human sympathy but informative. But how much do you really know? True sorrows of the occupation lie ever so quietly in the details of life. Details; overwhelmed with emotions, flooded with woe and ignored by the media.

 A few days ago, as I drove from Ramallah back to Jerusalem, I passed a road used by both Palestinians living in the West Bank and settlers residing in illegal settlements. I could not help but notice a number of the Israeli cars, filled with families, all driving back to their “homes” which happen to exist illegally on Palestinian land. Details are so important, so I examined the families passing by. A couple driving by grasped my attention. They were moving slowly up the street, the man looking lovingly at his wife and leaning over to kiss her. Yes, details are everything, they tell the stories that the media world does not cover like this scene. This normally “admirable” scene reveals so much to a Palestinian like me. These people are not only illegally living on my land, occupying my country, achieving an education, investing in companies, restricting my life through checkpoints, but they also fall in love on my land. They fall in love and express it on their way back to their illegally constructed homes. On a normal day, in a normal land, this scene would be absolutely lovely, but here, the fantasy of love tastes differently, it is love spiced with apartheid. Sour…Apartheid.   

This “love” has led people worldwide to our doorsteps. An example that comes to mind is the Russian-born Anastassia Michaeli of the Israeli Knesset. Anastassia had suggested banning the call for prayers in all Arab villages within the “Israeli” borders. But how does she have the right to be here? She is a Russian Christian who moved to Israel to be with her love. She is now married to the man of her dreams, has converted to Judaism to sign her children as Jews and attain the “right of return to the promised land, Israel”. The beauty of love can sometimes be so destructive. I see the details of these stories that glorify the power of the most affectionate, soul-moving emotion existing, and I ponder, how can love could be so cruel? How can love give happiness to those who impose apartheid and illegal occupation?

Anastassia’s story makes me think back to the law enforced by the Israeli Higher Court of “Justice”. It states that a Palestinian living within the 48 borders (i.e. “Israeli” claimed land) who has an Israeli nationality and falls in love with a Palestinian living in the West Bank, (separated by a wall), cannot marry the love of his life. Why? Well, because you simply cannot move your spouse to “Israeli” lands if you are a Palestinian holding a Palestinian ID. Too bad you are not Israeli, if you were, you would be allowed to bring the person your heart has chosen to “Israel” from anywhere around the world, much like Russian Anastassia.

Looking at the bigger picture, you see that Israeli “justice” has incurred the following laws; ‘as an Israeli, you can enter a land, occupy it, build illegal settlements, fall in love, marry the woman of your choice regardless of her location and religion and live happily ever after. On the other hand, as a Palestinian, you have to accept your limited choices, lock your heart within a fence in the open fields of love because you may only “allow” an attraction to occur between someone residing in the appropriate land and yourself. Therefore, dear Palestinian, please do not make it more difficult for the Israeli government by requesting to marry your cousin in the West Bank, we see nothing wrong with your neighbors’ daughter. Also, kindly maintain copies of all official documents verifying that you are in fact permitted to live within Israeli borders. We have restrained your heart beating motion, please exert full control of your feelings so you do not break the laws we have so “justly” enacted.’         

I continue down the road and see a man pushing a baby’s trolley to the settlement. Fatherly love sparked from the scene so naturally…But how? How can such warm feelings occur on stolen land, how can they inspire such beautiful emotions on land they have drained all meanings of love from?! In the past, there had been another father with his son on the same land, why do they no longer have the right to exist here? Love is such a simple thing for Israelis but a matter of uttermost complexity for Palestinians. A Palestinian man often cannot join his wife when in labor because of their regional “classifications”. We live in an unjust world that restricts Palestinians from even the most gentle of feelings, while offering them generously within Israeli unlawful settlements. The true sorrow of occupation is not what you see on the media, it is not just the arrests and discriminatory occupation. True sorrow lies in the details, the restraining orders on even emotions…The details of love under apartheid.

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