Always Just An Arab
During the “tzfirah” [siren] for Yom Hazikaron [Memorial Day] today, I saw a woman holding her daughter, who was scared. When the “tzfirah” stopped, I heard the mother explaining to the child, what it was about. She told her that it was to commemorate all the killings of Jews that have been carried out by Arabs, “the ones who seek to kill us,” in other words, “our enemy”.
I am 25 years old, and what I have learned up to now is that no matter what I do in this country I will always be the "Arab." If someone steals something, the finger will still be pointed at me, because I am the "Arab." I can go to the police, but it won't matter. It will always be my fault.
I am not seeking to be an Israeli. I am a Palestinian living in Israel. I just don’t want to be a second-class citizen. I want to be treated like the nice person that I am. I also have feelings.
Being an Arab living in Israel, I know what discrimination is.
The apartment that I live in today with my fiancé is the 16th apartment that we saw after 15 rejections from people whose apartments we saw. The rejections were solely based on the fact that we are Arab. We just got "lucky" with this apartment, because the owner happens to be a left-wing.
One of those people who rejected us even said it bluntly, "I don’t rent my apartment out to black people or minorities."
In another case, everything was settled and we were about to send a scanned copy of the contract, when the owner's wife called us last minute saying that she had already rented the place out to her friend, so there was no point in renting it out to us. We knew what had happened.
In another case, I spoke to the owner of an apartment over the phone and told him that I am Russian. People have told me that I look Russian, and we were desperate—we really needed a house. However, my fiancé had just put on Arabic music in the house, and it was seemingly loud enough for the apartment's owner to hear it [on the other end of the phone]. He asked if my fiancé was Arab and I couldn't lie, so I said yes. That was enough for the rejection.
We live in an all right neighborhood, although some of our neighbors are scared of us, especially of my fiancé who apparently looks like a mean Arab. But they only really began to be scared of him when they heard him speaking Arabic.
I have done everything here [in reacting to my feelings]: I have cried, I have thrown things, and I have had crazy moments. But I have learned that when I become "crazy", my situation gets worse. There is nothing that I can do, I can't protest. If I go to prison, I will lose.
I can understand the rage that goes through people that do suicide bombings; I understand them, but I don’t agree with it.
Sometimes I just want to let loose, to go nuts.
Ten years ago my father went with my younger brother to buy pizza. On their way to the pizza place my father heard a gun-fight between two people. He stopped the car and got stuck in the middle of this fight. He was hit by the bullets. When [this began happening,] he immediately threw my brother into the back of the car.
People called for an ambulance to come—an ambulance that took an hour and a half to arrive—and when it did arrive, the people in charge of the ambulance wouldn’t enter my town, Taiybeh, because they saw it as an Arab “ghetto”. Instead, people had to carry my father into a car and drive him to the entrance of the town, where the ambulance waited to take him to the hospital. My father bled to death on the way.
To the person not wanting to enter my town: Why did you choose a profession that is based on saving lives, when you do not wish to come and save me [or my family]? Doesn’t every human being have the same value?
Not only that. The police arrived at the scene after three houses (hours?).
A week after my father’s murder, my eleven-year old brother pointed out to the police the person who had been responsible for my father’s death. The policeman spoke to the culprit, and then the policeman went home. A week after it had happened, the case was closed. No explanation was given to us for why this was done—which almost pains me more than my father’s death itself. I know that it was because my father was “just” an Arab, and now his killer is free to go out and kill more Arabs.
Why won’t you put him in prison? Why should he go free?
My family and I know the person who did it. He walks freely around in my town, and lives just a couple of houses away from my mother.
My mother used to be a smiley person. Today her smile has faded. I try to convince her to leave the town, but she won’t, because she built her house with her husband, my father. She doesn’t leave the house much; she doesn’t meet anyone. Since he died, his toothbrush is in the same place, and his dusty glasses remain by the bed.
In the three years that followed my father’s murder, my younger brother who had been there that night lost his ability to speak; he wouldn’t even cry. He didn’t talk, he didn’t eat, and he lost a lot of weight. After these three years, he began speaking, but he is still very violent, and he has flash-backs of that evening. I feel very bad, and he refuses help. I wish I could help him.
But I know that if the killer had been put in prison, both he and my mother would have been much better off today.
I Break Boundaries
I am Muslim, but I am married to a Christian man. Where I come from, this is inconceivable. Some have even told me that making this decision makes me less of a Muslim. Some have said that I should be kicked out of my own religion. But I am confident that God sees the good in me. I am sure that he will forgive me, even if he doesn’t like it.
I am my mother’s daughter. I have broken every rule that I was supposed to live by. My mother’s marriage to my father was her second. Her previous marriage was a forced one. Like me, she was a rebel, and one day she stood up and decided to make a new life for herself, and met my father along the way. They married out of love. My mother and father worked very hard, but it wasn’t received well that my mother lived with a man before getting married. Just as I am doing.