Thursday, July 9, 2009

I'm coming home

This will be my last entry from Palestine - I leave on an overnight flight today. I just went to the post office to mail home everything I had on me that even hinted that I was in the West Bank or that I am in any way pro-Palestinian. Now I'm just your average, Jewish-Canadian tourist, so sad to see the end of my magical vacation in the Holy Land. Here's hoping that there are no problems at the airport - I'm fairly confident that my race/ethnicity combined with their racism will result in a smooth passage through security. If not, I'm just going to cry and ask them why they hate Jews.

Yesterday, I went to Akka, which is about 45 minutes from Tel Aviv. It used to be one of the main port-cities before the Nakba. It's now a mixed city, with the Palestinian population mostly living in what can only be described as ghettos or slums within the city. I walked around this beautiful, ancient city and listened in on various Zionist tours that were being given. It was so messed up that the guides at once acknowledged the history of the city 'ancient port etc', but somehow don't connect the 'historical' people they talk about with the people that were forcibly removed from the city. For them, it's ok to talk about the fact that there were ancient Arab people whose history is interesting, but there is this complete denial of the recent past and the current situation for Arab people in 'Israel'.

While sitting on the beach yesterday, watching the waves and enjoying the beauty of the Mediterranean I got so unbelievably sad and angry. There are so many people I know from home and who I've met here who would give anything just to sit by the sea, but aren't allowed because they are either refugees or from the West Bank and don't have the right ID. I realized that because I've studied so much about Israeli Apartheid I wasn't often surprised by the violence, repression and cruelty I've seen - I was expecting it. But I don't think I was prepared for how devastating it is to see the beautiful, wonderful places that have been stolen and are out of reach for so many who deserve the right be be there and see those places.

My final thought before leaving is that this trip has reminded me of how important it is to link the work we do around Palestine with issues back home. I've met so many people who see Canada as a wonderful place and I've spent a fair bit of time correcting that misconception. Many people - including Palestinians - have asked me point blank why I focus on Israel when Canada is so bad and I'm glad that I can answer that we link our work on Palestine with fighting oppression in Canada. It's now even more important to me that we continue to do so in genuine ways that are in solidarity with people who are being oppressed in the settler colonial context I call home.

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