I am madly searching to see what possible routes to safety and security exist for Palestinian Refugees who have left their homes in Syria to escape war.
I have 11 reasons for this. They each have Arabic names and live and breathe- 3 are still on the breast.
People seeking refuge who have limited finances will seek out people involved in the extremely lucrative profession of people smuggling in order to have the experiences many take for granted. My Palestinian friend calls it ‘the life’. It is not until you get up close and personal with this that you realise what this really means and indeed how fortunate you are..
Every time I hear an Aussie say “I’m going to Bali” or “I’m off to Vanuatu for a week” or,” I’ve always wanted to go to Venice” I think about how they have such little regard for their passport and little understanding of how magical this document would be for others. Those who would die (or have died) trying to secure one for themselves. I won’t go into those same Aussies raving about how cheap the plastic facial surgery is in Thailand or how they can get their teeth done for one third the price.
My first understanding and connection to the real value of this document we take for granted was many years ago as a traveller on the hippy trail. I asked questions of my hotel hosts and was genuinely interested in their aspirations. My Afghan host said if he could have anything in this life it would be a passport as he wanted to see the world and escape the poverty that was endemic in his country. As an Afghan he would have seen much since (especially if he never got that passport) – that’s if he survived the Russians, Mujahedeen, Taliban and US/NATO/AUS military influence on his country.
A passport and indeed an acceptable nationality is a precious thing. Palestinians, possibly more than any other peoples know this intimately. Palestinians who have been to Bali on fake or useless passports, in transit to leaky boats, en route to Ashmore Reef or certain death at sea actually know this in their DNA.
So what if you need to get out you have young children and the mortars are flying, people are dying? You aren’t poor you have savings. Where to? Lebanon? Egypt? Sweden? (where you get residency on entry)Thailand? Germany, Italy? Canada, Australia, the places your family have gone? You want to be near them, but really you want to stay. This is your home. But this home is trashed. Yesterday you had to climb over bodies downstairs just to get to the street. You HAVE TO GO.
Could you possibly understand what this entails?
Ramzy Baroud, Palestinian-American journalist, author, editor, Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) taught Mass Communication at Australia’s Curtin University of Technology, and is Editor-in-Chief of the Palestine Chronicle has been quoted as saying:
“There is nothing worse than being a refugee on the run, except being a refugee on the run again and again, with a legal status of perpetual statelessness, and with no country in which to seek shelter.” 1
It is devastating for those parents who as young children were banished from land they had called home for millennia to make way for an Israeli state in 1948. Now they have to leave again with no chance of sanctuary.
Syrian Palestinians find themselves in a bigger struggle as part of an ‘illegal’ diaspora. Previously they were supported in the Middle East by UNRWA. But UNRWA has shown how weak it is in the face of the Syrian war. They are weak, the UN is weak. But Palestinians are tough and if they aren’t they have to show that face to the world. Palestinians have a history of dispossession but will never act as a victim, they are survivors and have a real knowledge of how to survive in a world that rejects you as a human being with any rights.
In Malaysia Palestinians are offered entry without visa, but the tragic loss of ‘Palestinian’ as an option for ‘Nationality?’ is another sickening farce created by the memory hole conspirators that baffled the generous Malaysian border officials by not placing Palestine on the computer data base (thank-you Microsoft?). There’s a story there that maybe I’ll relate later, but for now try finding ‘Palestinian’ on any Australian Immigration documents under the ‘Nationality’ dropdown box.
The situation in Australia is now such that many citizens despair about our government’s appalling attitude towards asylum seekers and refugees. A history of fear and loathing that has progressed from bad to worse, no matter what version of neo-liberalism we vote into power. As a person of Anglo culture I am constantly enlightened by daily interactions with people who relate to a dominant culture different from my own. What is wrong with us that we fear the other? In the case of Palestinians it is clearly the Moslem version that the government has had problems with. Phalangist Christians have had much support in migrating to Australia yet they are known as responsible under Israeli tutelage for the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres of Palestinians in Lebanon. But forget bringing my extended family here to safety.
Then in my search I read that Palestinian national dishes are also being stolen in a controversy started by Buzzfeed about Kanefeh being an Israeli dish ….and the comments say ‘so what’s your problem Palestinian… you get so reactive?’ 2.
Food is how Arabic people connect with home (as do we all) This latest theft of culture has been rectified by Buzzfeed, was ignorant and apologies have been given but it raises how blatant cultural appropriation of indigenous Palestinian identity and culture is occurring. Palestinians see the efforts to market their culture as “Israeli”, part of Zionism’s ongoing campaign to erase them culturally and physically from the geography, history and future of Palestine. That is very relevant and the reaction not out of kilter within this context. Anotherposted comment also mentioned ‘Reclaimed East Jerusalem’ (so much for Brandis’ claim about removing the word ‘occupied’ from ‘Occupied East Jerusalem’ to assist the peace process)..
Resisting cultural appropriation takes on great significance for Palestinians.
So yeh, I am madly searching to see what possible routes to safety and security exist for Palestinian Refugees who have left their homes in Syria to escape war. I have 11 reasons for this. They each have Arabic names and live and breathe- 3 are still on the breast.