Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"You kick us out of Jaffa then wonder how come we're born elsewhere."

Sharon and My Mother-in-Law: Ramallah Diaries
By Suad Amiry
Granta Books

Suad Amiry is almost certainly slightly mad, and for this I love her; she is stubborn, reckless, emotional and confrontational. For the Israelis she poses a problem: she's an Arab woman, sure, but what kind of kick-ass, pain in the ass damn Arab woman is this - she does not seem to be oppressed by her husband, she has no hoards of children, she's highly educated and she takes the piss, making their unholy job even more tiresome.
This is Suad in a bad mood at Tel Aviv airport, summer 1995:

"The security man handed me and my passport over to a security woman sitting in a room behind a desk, then disappeared, leaving me alone with her.
She flipped through my passport, and asked assertively, 'And what were you doing in London?'
'I went dancing,' I answered, looking her straight in the eye, with an expressionless, tired face, and a voice even more assertive than hers.
'Do you think you're being funny?' she said, her voice louder and more serious.
'No. And do YOU have any problem with dancing?' My voice now much lower and more sarcastic.
'What was the purpose of your visit to London?'
'Dancing,' I insisted.
As we went back and forth, she started to lose her temper and I started to lose my sleepiness."

A large male security officer is summoned:

"What were you doing in London?' asked the male officer, extremely aggressively, while looking at me straight in the eye.
'Dancing,' I insisted.
'You know that failing to cooperate with us on security matters will result in your arrest?'
'Fine', I replied, quickly resigned to this ridiculous verdict, 'but I need to go out and inform poor Ibrahim, who has been waiting outside the airport for hours to pick me up.'
'No, you are not permitted to go; and who is Ibrahim? Is he a relative?'
I was not in the mood and I did not want to tell the two security officers that Ibrahim was not exactly a relative, as none of my relatives, and neither my husband from Ramallah, are allowed to come pick me up from the airport.
[...] 'You cannot prevent me from going out to tell Ibrahim to leave. It is not fair to make him wait any more [...]
'No, you cannot leave!', screamed the male officer, losing his temper.
'Watch me do it', I said, as I turned around and started walking out of the interrogation room [...]
'Ibrahim these are security officers. It is along story. In short, I am under arrest and I just came to let you know that you should not wait for me any longer [...]
'Arrested?' enquired Ibrahim, shocked.
'Don't worry Ibrahim. It is not a big deal' I reassured him. 'I have been arrested because I told them I went dancing in London,' I added.
'Dancing? Did you say dancing? Ibrahim was now in total shock.
Oh God, that was all I needed. It seemed that Ibrahim was even more troubled by my dancing in London than the Israeli security officers. What can I say? I have always believed that the occupation ruined the spirit of both Israelis and Palestinians."

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