Monday, December 28, 2015

And When I Knock on the Door...

I love this:

"As a Palestinian, whether I live 'here' or 'there,' I live in an existential homeland. Since my childhood I have known no other. But I have not yet wanted to reconcile myself to the notion that my history should be deflected from its preordained course and that I should be robbed of my patrimony. I still consider the punishment meted out to us to be unspeakable. To be punished beyond the call of our guilt is a terrible front to our sensibility and sense of justice. To be punished with no implication of guilt is to be brought to the edge of hysteria, a clamour to prove to one's self that our account with men and their gods do not balance.

"And the accounts do not balance, and they have never balanced.

"For the Palestinian, just to explain himself, 'here' as well as 'there,' he has to exert torrential energies.

"In Long Island, I gave a talk to a predominantly Jewish audience. I speak about Palestine and the Palestinians. Mine is a narrative, not a lecture, that I deliver without cant. I am not a threatening figure. I have a beard and long hair. I have Semitic features. I am wearing a corduroy suit. I am at home in English and its nuances. When I finish, in this stark surrounding of upper middle class affluence, I know my tale has a tone, a presence, a spell and a desperate integrity to it. I know its honesty has played on the nerves with disquietening intimacy, making such immediate, such urgent claims on the intellect and on emotions. But this audience does not flinch.

"Instead, I hear this: You people have never had it so good under occupation, now you're looked after medically and educationally, and have the highest standard of living among all Arabs. Palestine was desert before the Jews went there. The 'Arab refugees' left Palestine voluntarily. If it were not for the Arab governments, you people would have been resettled a long time ago. If we granted you a separate state, you people would be at the gates of Jerusalem, Haifa and Jaffa.

"Yes. Yes. Yes, that is where I want to Return. Where I want to be. At the gates of Jerusalem, Haifa and Jaffa. And when I knock on the door, I shall be there listing every blade of grass, every grain of sand, every floor, every shadow of every olive tree that I had left behind." (Fawaz Turki, The Future of a Past: Fragments from the Palestinian Dream, Journal of Palestine Studies, Spring, 1977, p 69)

No comments: