Within the past 24 hours, I’ve heard two passionate versions of the ugly refrain “Go back where you came from!”
Mind you, neither was directed to me personally. I feel very welcomed in Gaza. In fact, I think “welcome” must be in the lexicon of every taxi driver, shopkeeper and student in Gaza.
But two Palestinians, one from East Jerusalem who now lives in the United States, and the other living in Gaza, both told me they think Jews in Israel should “Go back where they came from!”
In the first instance, I posted this photo on my Facebook page with the following note:
Lora wrote: An Israeli and a Palestinian with their grandchildren who want to live in peace with each other. Jeff Halper was originally from Minnesota, USA ….. a long-time resident of Israel. Kudos Jeff. Minnesota’s enlightenment (at least in the 1950-60-70) is paying off.
Jeff Halper is an Israeli Jew who founded the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. Jeff was born in Minnesota (same state where I was raised) in 1946 and emigrated to Israel in 1973. In 2006, he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, certainly more deserving than Obama in my humble opinion.
A Palestinian now living in the USA responded indignantly to my Facebook post.
Please stop spreading this propaganda! The “enlightened” thing would be for Jeff to return to the US and stop assuming Jewish entitlement and privilege that allows him to take the place of indigenous families!! Your comment about “refusing to be enemies” is a cuddly Zionist mantra that creates an illusion of parity in a situation marked by domination, oppression, and daily savage violence by a military state!
This writer wants Jeff to go back where he came from! Regardless of the fact that he has lived in Israel for 40 years and worked tirelessly against the Israeli occupation for most of that time, speaking around the world and educating thousands of people about the inhumane and destructive policies of house demolitions, she can’t envision a world where Jews and Palestinians may live together in peace one day.
In the second instance, a well-educated Palestinian man with two advanced university degrees told me that all of historic Palestine will eventually be returned to its rightful owners. The Qur’an says so. I asked “What will happen to the people currently living in Israel?” “That’s not my concern,” he said. “They should go back where they came from!”
There is no denying the pain that still exists. The Nakba is fresh in the memories of Palestinians — for those who survived the catastrophe and their descendants. On the walls in Gaza, I see daily reminders of their longing to return to their homes and villages.
The 65- year occupation has not erased these memories. Moreover, Israeli soldiers and government officials seem hellbent on reinforcing these injustices, reminding the roughly 4 million Palestinians in the occupied territories on a daily basis that they don’t belong here.
Is it too much to dream and hope that Palestinians and Israelis will one day be able to live together peacefully? Maybe everyone should just go back where they came from.
That Garden of Eden is going to fill up pretty darn quickly!