Great family party last Saturday, celebrating the life of an Aunt, (sister, cousin, Great-Aunt…) who died recently. Some people had to travel a bit within UK and from Oz but it set me thinking. I live in UK about 100 miles from my sister. She was at the ‘do’ with her children and I was there with mine, no problem. But, what if I were Palestinian? And I recalled a recent conversation.
Meena’s daughter (not her real name) wanted her cousin and Aunt to be there at her graduation from school. But, whilst both live in what is internationally recognised as Palestinian territory, Meena and her daughter live in East Jerusalem whereas Meena’s sister lives in Ramallah, 20 British miles and a million political miles away. And despite the bst efforts of the local priest they couldn’t get the required permits from Israel to travel 20 miles up the road to celebrate educational achievement. The Aunt could go and an older, male cousin; but the female cousin and a younger male were denied permits. No reason is given, no reason has to be given, Israel’s military and civilian bureaucracies are their own law.
But the family were able, eventually, to gather for a celebration …. in Amman, Jordan.
To choose to travel is one thing, to be forced to travel to another country to meet your family is… what? Racism? That, and worse, is the everyday experience of Palestinians.