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A Little Bit of Israel
by Amer Zahr
August 13th, 2011 (3 Comments)
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"There's a little bit of Israel in all of us... Come find the Israel in you."

That's what I heard.  I was up at 3 am.  It was one of those nights when I couldn't sleep, laying awake, working out varied scenarios and schemes to liberate my homeland.  Then on came a commercial, showing stunning videographics of a familiar land, ending with the tagline: "There's a little bit of Israel in all of us... Come find the Israel in you."

As it turns out, about a year ago, Israel's Ministry of Tourism started an aggressive, $10 million ad campaign on American TV.  It began in a few select cities, and has finally made its way to Detroit, the home of Arab America.  I guess Detroit wasn't one of their target markets.



Listen to Amer recite this blog...

"There's a little bit of Israel in all of us... Come find the Israel in you."

I can't get it out of my head.  I have to admit, those guys are good at finding the right lines...

"A land without a people for a people without a land."
"Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity."
"There's a little bit of Israel in all of us... Come find the Israel in you."

So I started to think.  Is there a little bit of Israel in me?  Well, my dad was born a month before Israel was established and became a refugee at one month old.  So, there's some Israel in him.  My mom was born as an Israeli citizen.  She and her family were eventually "diswelcomed" from their home in Akka by the Israeli government.  There's definitely some Israel in her.

Palestinians spend our daily lives being completely consumed by being Palestinian.  We live lives that are completely intertwined with Israel, whether we like it or not, and whether we live there or not.  I spend the greater amount of my writing, speaking, and performing describing what it is like to be a Palestinian, an existence that relentlessly endeavors to endure in the face of constant Israeli attempts to deny it.

So, is there a little bit of Israel in me? No... There’s A LOT!

But, funny enough, I'm pretty sure the Ministry of Tourism wasn't referring to me in their commercials.  The "Israel" that's in me isn't the "Israel" they're trying to sell.  Their "Israel" is all about beautiful beaches.  Mine is about uprooted olive trees.  Their "Israel" is about hip art colonies.  Mine is about the village they destroyed to house the artists.  Their "Israel" is about great tasting hummus... Well, mine is too.

My Israel is about dispossession, disenfranchisement, and disavowal.  My Israel is about an existence denied.  My Israel is about generations of Palestinians circling the earth, able to live and succeed everywhere except where they belong.  My Israel is about 10 refugee camps in Jordan, 12 in Lebanon, 10 in Syria, 19 in the West Bank, 8 in Gaza, and over 4.3 million registered Palestinian refugees.  My Israel is about all the things Israel never wants to talk about.  My Israel is about Palestine.

There's more that just a little bit of Israel in me.  There’s over a hundred years worth.

Although it has not been covered in the American media at all, Israel has recently been the scene of mass demonstrations by Jews, protesting against living conditions that are becoming too costly to endure.  The Israeli economy is suffering, in no small part due to the brutal occupation and ongoing building of illegal settlements that have diverted huge amounts of government money away from most of Israeli society.

In the wake of the Arab Spring and massive demonstrations throughout the Arab World by young citizens demanding accountability and change from their governments, Israelis are following suit.

There might be a little bit of Israeli in all of us, but it looks like there’s some of us in them too.

 

 

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* Amer Zahr is a Palestinian American comedian, writer, professor and speaker living in Dearborn, Michigan. He is also the editor of "The Civil Arab."

Comments (3)
  1. Solovey Razboynik ... August 13th, 2011 - 21:34

    The trouble is, that “little bit of Israel” is a lot of BS being shoved down my throat. I feel utterly nauseated at the publicity barraged. I want to vomit. Every time that I see the ads on the Ha’aretz website, touting the luxury hotels along the beaches in Netanya, I think of the Palestinians denied the sight of their sea, the Mediterranean people who have been shoved out by largely Central European immigrants. I think of the film “The Salt of this Sea,” I wish that one day all the Palestinians could come home and have a huge barbeque on their beaches. Thank you for another amazing article, Amer.

  2. man u r brilliant!

  3. Brother, I can understand how you must feel. As a Jew, my people wandered the Earth for more than 1900 years after being kicked out of our homeland, and subsequently kicked out of Spain and brutally murdered by the people of our “host countries” because of our customs and dogged refusal to become like them. So you should understand our plight as well. Unfortunately, we have done to you what history has done to us. I don’t condone it and wish we could all live together in peace, justice and equality for all, without fear of each other. I think we need freedom FROM religion, not freedom OF religion. When we can have a truly secular world, then we will better be able to live in peace. It is us secular moderates that can meet in the middle and see the Other. Shukran. Thank you.


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