palestinian diary


More than one and a half million Palestinians live in Israel, not in the West Bank and Gaza, but in Israel itself, in the Galilee in the north, the Triangle in the centre and the Naqab (Negev) in the south. After the wiping out of Palestine in 1948, about 15 per cent of the Palestinian population remained in the new state of Israel. On the surface, we are far more privileged than our brethren in the West Bank and Gaza; having Israeli citizenship and a passport means that we can vote, we have access to good education, public healthcare and social benefits, and we can travel easily, although we can’t visit some Arab countries. We don’t live in an occupied zone surrounded by checkpoints, with the constant threat of clashes, Israeli army incursions and settler violence. We are free to study almost anything we choose, in a country with a large job market. But this is a façade behind which is a system of rampant structural and institutional discrimination. As Palestinians, we spend every minute of our lives paying for the fact that we are not Jewish.

When I lived in my family’s village of Fassouta, in the Galilee, I was reminded every morning as I drove to work of my people’s dispossession. First, I had to drive through the remains of Suhmata and Dayr El-Qasi, two Palestinian villages that were destroyed in 1948. All that remains of Suhmata is a mass of shrubs and some stones that survived the Israeli bulldozers when they ploughed the village into the ground. In the miracle of Israel’s creation, Dayr El-Qasi was turned into Elqosh, a Jewish village, some of whose residents live in houses that were not destroyed in 1948, perhaps because they appreciate the Arab architecture. The Palestinians of Dayr El-Qasi and their descendants have lived in refugee camps in Lebanon ever since.

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