samedi 21 mai 2016

ONE REFUGEE TO ANOTHER.. ON THIS HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY OF SYKES-PICOT MAP

ONE REFUGEE TO ANOTHER... AN EYE OPENER IN HISTORY
OR HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY OF SYKES-PICOT MAP
I am a Jew, and firmly rooted in the Middle East, not only the history of my people, but also the music that I like, the food I like to eat... and lately the airlines I like to fly
I am partial to Qatar Airways as well as Etihad Airways.
Today I flew from New York JFK on an Airbus 380 to Abu Dhabi and then on an airbus 330 to Colombo, Sri Lanka.
I enjoyed their service, made some new friends, SR from Chiang Mai and also LT from Chengdu.
ARABIC MEZZE

AUTHENTIC GULF LAMB MACHBOOS WITH DAKUS SAUCE 

RATHER RICH CHOCOLATE TART

The FA in charge of my cabin was pleasant, D was her name. As is my custom, I like to talk with them and learn their story a little bit.
She was efficient and very attentive and I praise her for her service, she has been with EY for 10 years.
Where are you from? I asked
I am from Palestine.
Which part of Palestine?
Bethlehem.
Everyone knows that city.
Then I asked her, were you born in Palestine or Abu Dhabi
She coyly admits, I was born in Abu Dhabi.
Then it is her turn
Where are you from?
Israel
Then I told her the story that most Palestinians and their supporters do not wish to hear
You see, in 1948, Arabs expelled one million Jews out of all Arab countries. We were made refugees.
Which countries?
Thinking of my brother Eliyahu and Sister Rachel, I said
My father’s people lived in Egypt
My mother’s people lived in Iraq.
I emphasized, they made us refugees overnight and that is why Israel is our home, because Israel would always be there for us.
Then I added with pride, which is the truth, Israel is a fantastic country, it is an open society  and technologically one of the most advanced.
I had said all these without irony, without mockery or prejudice. I hear that the academics in USA want to boycott academics in Israel. If American Anthropological Association adopts that stance, goodbye AAA, I don’t want to be a member!  When Arabs kicked a million of us out... Iraq to Algerie, and Iran included, it was not any one of the American academics that gave us refuge... Please be grateful or at least acknowledge all the contributions Israeli and American Jewish academics have done to the US educational system...
She became quiet. I had already told her that I am on my way to Cochin for historic research, Malaysia for friendship and Cambodia of some medical assistance. She cannot accuse me of being a selfish Zionist!
Also she and many other Palestinians know, even if they are born and lived in the Gulf countries or in any of the many countries including their neighbours Lebanon or Syria, they would never be accorded the same rights as a citizen as they would never be invited to become a citizen.
Dear Miss D, whether you are from Bethlehem or Abu Dhabi, I offer you my hands in friendship, and I hope I see you again in one of the Etihad Airways flights in the future.

May be the next time I will tell you about the Sykes Picot Map of the Middle East drawn one hundred years ago this year. There was no Palestine in the map at that time, Jordan was created, Iraq as a political entity was created. Lebanon and Syria as we now know were created. (All ancient cities had existed but political entities or Alawite control of Syria or the Sunni control of Bagdad were alien concepts at that time)