Pick a CV any CV…
I AM PALESTINIAN. I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN PALESTINIAN. AND I WILL ALWAYS BE PALESTINIAN
After more than a year of unemployment, I received a rejection letter that broke this camel’s back. I have applied for every job under this sun. Or so it seems. My Linkedin total of jobs applied to has reached 6,000+ ages ago. That doesn’t take into consideration all the other jobs I’ve applied to using tens of other sites.
I’m drawn to humanitarian positions that deal with Palestinians, as I am Palestinian and feel very passionate about Palestine. Palestine is my mother, my sister, my child. Palestine is my everything and the reason I live and breathe. I’ve tried to put into words many times what it is Palestine means to me, but it never seems enough. As a writer it’s frustrating. As a Palestinian, I feel it in my bones, my veins, my lungs, my life, my every molecule. Palestine made me the woman I am. Again, Palestine is my everything.
And as my everything, you can imagine how upsetting it is when I get rejected time and time again from these organisations. I’m not bitter, I accept that I wasn’t right for the position and I move on. But every so often I get an email from an organisation saying that the reason I didn’t get the position was that I’m not Palestinian, and they gave the position to a Palestinian person. What’s infuriating is that these emails come from a white member of staff. You would think, someone who works with Palestinians and supposedly works for the cause of Palestine would recognise the struggle we face.
It’s been well documented that politicians such as Golda Meir and many Zionists alike ignore the existence of Palestinians. They ignore that we exist, they ignore our right to live, they ignore our right of return, our ownership of land, our human rights, our every movement and our every basic dignity in this life.
Being from Haifa, we get labelled many things: Arabs, Israeli-Arabs, Arab-Israelis, 1948 Arabs, Inside Arabs, and so on. “They,” the Zionists, the politicians, the Arab regimes, Europe, America, the media, the whoever you want to consider in this umbrella “they”— They’re the ones who label us. But only we can label ourselves and only I can label myself.
So why is it that I get these emails from these white humanitarian workers who feel it ever necessary to tell me I don’t meet their definition of Palestinian. No, I don’t want to work for an organisation that has such a narrow, colonised and Zionist definition of Palestinian. I reject your rejection and assert my right to be addressed as a Palestinian. And more importantly, I reject your false participation in our movement.
Enough is enough. You either decolonize that self-righteous and false sense of so-called humanitarianism or you leave. This movement has enough struggle as is and we want participants who truly believe in the Palestinian right to exist, on our own terms, not by the ones you set up for us.
You cannot dictate who I am and who we are.
I am Palestinian and Palestinian I am.
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As noted by Rashid Khalidi, the term “Middle East” has become a source of contention and is seen as an unsatisfactory term to describe the region we now know as the Middle East and North Africa. Khalidi is correct in being sceptical of the term “Middle East,” as its definition is unclear. The World Bank uses the term “Middle East and North Africa” which encompasses the nations of Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, West Bank and Gaza, as well as Yemen. The United Nations Statistics Division, however, refers to the countries of North Africa separately from the countries of “West Asia,” which includes the Gulf countries, the Levant, as well as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. While the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Middle East Media Research Institute, the Central Intelligence Agency, the UN Refugee Agency, as well as Human Rights Watch all have slightly different definitions of what countries encompass the Middle East or the Middle East and North Africa, the larger questions are: Why do these organizations feel the need to define this region and what is the need to define this region?
Hasan Salaam, an Egyptian-American lyricist made a simple and important observation in some of his lyrics stating, “No such thing as the Middle East… No matter where you stand there’s always something to the east of you.” The definition of the “Middle East” and the terms that are used to describe North Africa, the Gulf, and West Asia have changed throughout history depending on which nations are the current superpowers. It seems that the European and American bodies that set th term “Middle East” into place, wanted to create Europe and North America as the centre of the world, in which everything must be in relation to these regions, and that the terms “Middle East” and “the West” are all relative.
The “West” has consistently defined the “East” in their own terms, in order to better define themselves and in order to mark “their” territory. When the “West” occupied the “Middle East,” it occupied the languages and the minds of the people in that region because, now, in Arabic the region is referred to as al-Sharq al-Awsat, or the Middle East. The “West” defined the borders of the “Middle East,” the same borders that the “Middle Eastern” countries fight to defend despite the end of colonialism. They have let the “West” define who is seen as friend and who is seen as foe. By doing this, the “Middle East” continues to be the pawns of the “West” and still unknowingly caters to the “West’s” notions of how the “Middle East” should be defined.
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