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There is a Place Called Palestine
Amer Zahr
Amer Zahr
Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 9:46 pm (5 Comments)

Sometime this week, Mahmoud Abbas will be asking the United Nations Security Council for full recognition for the State of Palestine. Such a move would give the Palestinians full rights at the UN, allowing them to vote, actively participate in the body’s proceedings, and pursue legal action against Israel in international courts. The United States, as a permanent member of the Security Council, has voiced its intention to veto the proposal, basically rendering it dead on arrival.

This move at the UN also finally puts a nail in the coffin of the 1993 Oslo Accords, which we Palestinians all know was also dead on arrival, as we have witnessed 18 years of Israel’s continued settlement building, land confiscations, and flouting of international law.

Israel and America have been scurrying to spin the whole episode, as it is kind of making them look bad. It looks like we Palestinians might be finally winning a fight in the media. I knew we were doing OK when I saw Rick Perry and Mitt Romney expressing their (newly found) undying love for Israel all over the news this morning. Rick Perry, for those of you who might not know, is the frontrunner for the Republican presidential candidacy, as well as the current governor of Texas. He held a press conference today in New York City alongside prominent members of the Jewish lobby, where he dropped all the necessary taglines, like “moral equivalency,” Jerusalem staying under complete Israeli control, and moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He also said, “America should not be ambivalent between the terrorist tactics of Hamas and the security tactics of the legitimate and free state of Israel.” Of course, any fully conscious observer of this whole affair would know that Hamas is against the push for UN recognition. So there, Rick Perry, you don’t only agree with Israel, you agree with Hamas too! But I don’t take Rick Perry for a very knowledgeable individual on Jews or Arabs… he’s been trapped in Texas his whole life. I’m not sure he’d seen Jews anywhere other than TV before today. At the end of the press conference, I think I heard him lean over and say, “So when do I get to meet Jerry Seinfeld?”

As far I’m concerned, Israel can have Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and their newest sweetheart, Sarah Palin. I’ll take Barack Obama, even if he’s kind of in the closet on the whole thing. President Obama, I thought we repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”?

For a long time, I have been trying to keep alive a sort of Palestinian narrative, doing my best to remind Israel, America, and the rest of the world that we exist. We are now trying to get the UN to do that too, by finally recognizing that there is a place called “Palestine.” The truth is that there has always been a place called “Palestine.” I constantly hear supporters of Israel say that there is not, and never was, a place called “Palestine.” It’s not on the map, they say. But I beg to differ… in a big way.

There’s no place called Palestine? Tell that to the 750 Palestinians in Arkansas. No, I don’t mean the ones that own the gas stations and supermarkets. I mean the good football-loving people of Palestine, Arkansas. I heard once that Bill Clinton liked Palestinian women. Now it all makes sense.

No place called Palestine? There might be about 1400 people in Illinois who would disagree. No, I don’t mean the brown Palestinians in Chicago. I’m talking about the good white people of Palestine, Illinois, the oldest incorporated village in the state. Take that for history!

Seriously, nowhere called Palestine? Maybe Rick Perry should watch his words, so as not to demean his 19,000 constituents in Palestine, Texas. This place called Palestine has a mayor, a college campus, and a high school that belongs to the “Palestine Independent School District.” It’s nice to see “Palestine” and “Independent” in the same name.

Do I have to keep going? OK, I will. There’s a Palestine on the map in Ohio. That one only has 170 people living in it. It used to have a lot more people until all of its residents were expelled in 1948 after… wait, I’m getting confused.

Indiana actually has two tiny little towns called Palestine with almost no people, and one much bigger one named New Palestine. The population of New Palestine, Indiana in the year 2000 was about 1200 people. Today, it’s over 2100 people! In Indiana, the population of Palestinians is skyrocketing!

Palestinians are everywhere, and we are not going anywhere. I ask for solidarity from my fellow Palestinians in Arkansas, Illinois, Texas, Ohio, and Indiana. I have always supported their right to independence and self-determination. I am only asking for the same in return.

There is a place called Palestine. And whether it’s a city in Texas, or a triangle on the Mediterranean, there’s nothing Netanyahu, Perry, and Obama can do or say to make it go away.

As it turns out, there is one town in America named Israel. It is located in the state of West Virginia, where there is also two towns called Palestine. I don’t know if the Israelis in West Virginia were aware that there were Palestinians living in their state before they got there. But you can imagine my horror at seeing their city motto: “A farmland for a people for a people without a farmland.”

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

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