I’m Not From Here

Life in Gaza

“Did I ever tell you that I am not from here?” my young Palestinian friend asked me one day.

“Yes,” I reminded him.  “You told me that.”

It seems my friend spent the first twelve years of his life in Abu Dhabi.  Now he has spent the next twelve in Gaza.

“Why would you move to such a place?” I naturally asked.

Photo credit: startrek.ehabich.info common license

Photo credit: startrek.ehabich.info common license

He laughed as he gave his response.  “It was not my idea.  My father wanted to return here.”

His father is a Palestinian from Gaza.  He wanted to return to his homeland.  It is a common emotion.  Many people wish to return to their homeland after they move away.  There remains a certain yearning to be in the land of your ancestry.  This is part of the emotional conflict that resides in many people of the divided lands of Palestine.  In fact, it is one of the reasons for war.

Apparently they did not return to Gaza expecting a better life.  I do not know what they had in the United Arab Emirates, but it certainly had to be better than being in a land that is sometimes torn by violence or even all out war as it is now.  For one wishing to go home, perhaps the threat of future war does not dissuade you from returning.

Indeed Jews and Palestinians have risked their lives to stake out a home in what is mostly a hostile climate and, of course, frequently a hostile environment.  Finding peace among neighbors who question why you are on a particular parcel of land can be a tough life.

A narrow strip of land

A narrow strip of land

My friend knows of the harsh realities that Gaza presents to its citizens, mostly refugees, but he also knows first hand a life somewhere that is not as cruel as life can be along the Sinai desert on a small strip of land.  Like many others, he also sees what life is like in other parts of the world.  The internet provides the opportunity to travel to other lands, meet other people and learn new things.  For some, the knowledge that rides on the waves of cyberspace also calls out to students and citizens who seek freedom.  It is the siren call that some long to answer.

My friend knew that his family would be unhappy when he left Gaza one day.  He told me he desired to return to school, to be a student of languages, to have a job that would go along with his language skills.  Although he was not certain where in the world he could end up, but Gaza did not seem to hold a future.  It is devoid of culture that can be found in other cities.

“Who would build anything here when it might get blown up some day?”  This is a logical question.  Why invest in anything of value when you do not know what the future would hold for such an investment?  It could be lost in the flash of a rocket blast.

When I wrote of my friend in the story that first appeared here on Sunday, I mentioned that I had not heard anything since Friday morning when he wished me a good day as I headed off to work.  I don’t know where he was headed in the overcrowded and dangerous strip of land.

During Friday he “liked” my facebook status, “pray for peace.”  I have tried to contact him without success so far.  I can imagine that power must be knocked out to large areas of Gaza City and the internet may be unavailable.  I await go news and still pray for peace.

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13 thoughts on “I’m Not From Here

  1. Please. We are not Hebrews. We are Jews or Israelis. NOT Hebrews. That’s a racial slur where I come from.

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    • I apologize. It is the way I heard it. No offense was intended and I will change it posthaste.

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      • Hebrews instantly implies that we do not have a country. We do have a country. It is called Israel and the people who call it home are Israelis. You can argue all you want about how we got it and who is entitled to what, but unless youapply the same standards to every other country where land is in dispute (like say, the U.S. where we stole and continue to steal everything from the Native Americans who were here before us), it’s a country. My country. I’m a citizen of Israel, a dual citizen with the U.S. Hebrew is a language. Israel is a country.

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        • I guess through Old and New Testament readings we have come to equate the ancient stories of the Hebrews and the land of Israel as somehow going together. It is, as you say, argued by some. As we read about the Hebrews all the time at church, I never considered it anything but a term if respect for people of that land and time. Now one ever told us different. Perhaps in other lands or even other neighborhoods, people use it as a pejorative term. I would never do that.

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          • Rich, before you dip your oars in these waters, you might want to actually talk to someone who knows a little more about what’s going on. LOTS of people have told you different. You just haven’t been listening. You could have asked me, you know?

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    • You are right. Marilyn. This post is interesting since we all wish for peace in this turbulent region. Very sensitive topic which needs sensitivity and precision. It is often hard to imagine that peace will happen there, but I still hope for it. For the children, especially.

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  2. You’ve must realize — surely it occurred to you — that applying a Christian biblical perspective to a modern country made up of Muslims and Jews is at best misguided. There are a lot of sides to this story. You’ve heard one. Ignorance is not an excuse. You know better.

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  3. We were all taught a load of crap in Sunday school, at home, in school. I’m a Jewish woman with a Black husband. I know the words we use DO matter. A lot. Not just to me, but to you and everyone else. Words are powerful. That’s why we write.

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    • I took your very first comment regarding a word and replaced it immediately. I do respect your opinion and followed your lead on what word should be used. You had the opportunity to educate, then you chose to insult and berate as well. Those are the words that hurt tonight, not one that was quickly replaced upon your pointing out the meaning.

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