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Pedagogy of the Oppressed, or the Colonizer?Nadia Harhash Special to Salem-News.com
Humanism should be a form of disclosure,not of secrecy or religious illumination. - Edward Said
(TEL AVIV +972 Mag) - I usually take the Israeli harassment with a sense of humor. After all, they are occupation. They will not be normal if they treat us well. And somehow treating us well is not something I like to happen, because it makes me subconsciously normalize with their existence.
For instance, in the airport, I voluntarily offer my striptease services. I make jokes about the body check. I walk with them through all the security mazes like a princess with her security guards.
On the checkpoints, depending on the severity of the checkpoint, I wear a serious face on Qalandia, and I could be easily provoked actually, but at Ze’ayyem, it became more of a game of psychological body language. I just drive by like an Israeli, and it works …
So many stories of playing around check points and security checks. Somehow adapting rather than getting mad and furious. And thankfully, there will be always an Israeli who will pop up to remind me that we re under occupation.
But there is a limit to what I can take for security measures. It is only Israelis in this country who are allowed to harass me, because, again and again, Israel is a state that is occupying me, and that is what occupation system does.
I could also understand that Palestinian police or security system may adopt such measures, it is part of the pedagogy of the oppressed mentality; to regenerate what the oppressor did to the oppressed, until the oppressed comes to his own means of understanding to what kind of system and behavior he wants to choose for himself.
But, why do liberated, UN occupying countries in my country need to adopt the same measure of behavior? It is not about what security procedure is. It is clear. It is about the attitude of dehumanization that is adopted. Countries that have their missions here to serve their interests with us. Regardless if those interests take a shape of grants or developmental projects. At the end they are serving their own agenda of interest, not ours. And apparently they don’t get yet, that we understand that.
I always wonder, why under the name of humanitarian aid and all that money that is pumped under the name of Palestinian aid, we “ the under-privileged” “ oppressed” “ poor” have to apply for visas (of course I know they are afraid that we immigrate to their prosperous countries) and pay. When the Israeli (who also may be willing to immigrate tot their prosperous country) doesn’t need a visa. And the money issue. Each time we have to travel and spend our money in those countries we pay them money to GRANT us entry for the time of stay. If someone wants to travel six times a year, he would need to pay 600 euro +, and of course I wouldn’t think of more travels, because he would need to apply two weeks in advance, and probably plan a month before. So an average Palestinian who wishes to be a traveller can do this maximum six times a year. But of course, why would a poor occupied deprived under privileged Palestinian need to travel?? Of course, those who travel, have access to long-term visas and most likely free, because there is a category of, privileged under-privileged Palestinians that are blessed with the West’s acceptance (because they bring business to them).
Why am I saying all this? I feel being inside another state of mental hallucination!!
It was some days ago, that I was invited with my colleagues of the program, that is run by a German University, and Blessed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (and paid by it too) to the German Representative Office in Ramallah to congratulate us for our scholarships and to hand us the grant that included cash and laptops. Very generous and appreciated of course from our side. And the Cultural Attaché’ kindly and generously invited us for lunch later.
Again, it was a very appreciated gesture that we all regarded with a zest.
We went there, gratified and delighted I would say. Expecting (playing with my mind) to be received in a ceremony (thinking of the email we received). It wasn’t my first time in the German Rep Office in Ramallah, and in other Rep Offices around, so I kind of know how things go. As I was entering, I was taken by surprise to see a Palestinian security woman, waiting inside the booth for women check. It reminded me of Amman Airport or other airports. Whereas in airports, its’ airports, not a live scene in a street in Ramallah. I felt diffident in entering, and after giving it some thought I was settled not. I felt that I couldn’t afford to go through such feelings of subjugation at this moment. My colleagues insisted that I come in with them, and that it will all take a few minutes, and after all people are waiting for us inside. (Somehow, my conscience had to remind me that after all, I am a Palestinian, and I shouldn’t really feel what normal people feel; degradation is part of our identity).
Even though, upon our arrival, a voice came from inside telling the security guard that this is a group that he should allow to enter. Our reception wasn’t as welcoming as expected. Aside from all the hostility in the air, I felt like standing in a row at the office of interior in Jerusalem, where the security people play games on mortifying us. As it was my male colleague to enter, he made sure I pass before; he was of course buzzing and voluntarily removing his belt. I don’t know what exactly happened in that instance, I admit I was occupied being incited, shamming to be finishing sending an email before they take my mobile as well. Suddenly loud voices were in the air and the German security official, who was watching from the beginning to make sure we re searched effectively flinched into the scene and asked my colleague to leave, saying that he will not be allowed to enter. It was that my colleague (who is a 1000% diplomat in his attitude) asked the security man, that he will open his bag for him (that my colleague wants to open his own personal bag for the security, because somehow that security man was putting all his belongings out in a manner that apparently embarrassed my colleague, without even waiting for him to open it). The German jerked in, in such haughty, insolent manner, without even giving a damn space for explanation and asked my colleague to leave in a very offensive disrespectful, boorish manner. My colleague was reasoning with him, telling him that he will not leave because he is invited here, and it is not him who decides to take him out (of course my colleague was counting on his good connections with the Germans). The German security official was infuriated and he told him if you don’t leave I will call the police and he did.
It was happening too fast. From my side, I was appeased, to tell the truth, because I was with the impression that what was taking place is inappropriate from the beginning.
So I promptly took it an opportunity for us to depart. Two of our colleagues who were already there earlier were signaled to leave by us and they joined.
A Palestinian Policeman grabbed my colleague by the hand. Whole disarray was taking place.
I was a bit (probably more) of apprehensive with my colleagues who were trying to reason with them .For me it was a simple issue. We were not welcomed. Not only that, we were thrown out; disposed. We leave. And it is them who should worry about giving us our things.
There was a massive dispute out there, I was too incensed to get in anything of what was materializing, and I just wanted to go to my car and leave.
There was a split somehow, that turned into trying to convince me to enter from one side, and some Germans probably trying to convince the group to enter.
We decided to go to Darna for lunch anyway, and treat ourselves with our own invitation not theirs.
At some point, and as in the Palestinian way, apparently, the chaos turned among us. We were torn asunder into those who thought we should have entered and finished with this thing and take the scholarship, and that we shouldn’t jeopardize blowing it up. And there was my group who believed that the whole behavior was unacceptable, and if it would take to blow it up, so let it happen.
What surprised me is our defiance in this. Of how, if we don’t go and get this ‘trophy’ we are subjecting ourselves to the risk of losing it.
And what if we lose it? In a quick common sense calculations we were not about to lose anything, this is a grant we are receiving upon an agreement and no one is doing us a favor. We are giving them back what is in that agreement anyway. Actually it is them, who need us. It is of a shock of how we Palestinians behave in such situations, apparently in all. I have to admit that the German approach in this sense was a result of such defiance. We were there to receive a grant, a charity from the German people!!!! The attitude towards us is, that they give us and we receive with gratitude.
I felt like shrieking, and I must have done that.. . For God’s sake, no one is doing us any favor here. It is a great thing that this program is happening, but as much as it is good for us, it is good for them. We didn’t go and ask them for anything; it was inside a deal between them and us. We are working for the making and realization of this program, that they damn want, probably more than us, especially that they are financing it.
Up keeping my opinion, the colleagues who were there before us and received their grants, were treated poorly. One of them described what happened saying he felt like being locked in a cage. They gave them the laptops and made them sign with not even a smile on anyone’s face. With not even a receiving hallo from anyone. They were waiting for something they didn’t know, and luckily it was we. Because no one showed up to say a word of welcoming even or saying what will happen next.
It was another time, we Palestinians should have been gratified with the great west help and donation … God. It wasn’t a donation right?
We went later to Darna for lunch. My colleague called the attaché’ and she joined us for lunch. … Somewhere, she had to remain in power, seeing us hesitant among ourselves. Some of us thanking her tremendously for the German kindness and generosity, sensing the typical Palestinian shooting on the foot consequences.
What happened next ??
Yes, I received a laptop and a good amount of cash to carry in my purse. It was definitely not the way I wanted it to happen. But, if I refrained from going, I would have ended up to be alone, and definitely the absurd person. It is true that the German lady, accompanied us to the Rep Office, and did what should have been done from the beginning, being there at the check place, since it is procedure, and they cannot avoid the security fear check. But they can humanize the act, since we Palestinians, sometimes are not there to solicit their giving’s away; that I hope we Palestinians one day realize, that every cent that is spent in this country from any country or source, is the price of occupation from one side, and it is an investment to that country before us. Every cent that is distributed in the name of Palestinian aid is more that 70% shared by these countries. So we are nothing but the product of their “white-collar industry”.
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