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Exodus?

Published on Thursday, 09 January 2014 10:56 By Dorgham Abusalim West Wing Every time I travel through the Arab world I'm reminded of ron Sorkin's legendary political drama The . In 2006 I left home on a scholarship to attend an International Baccalaureate (IB) school in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In retrospect, I did not have a clue where that journey would take me. Two years later I found myself pursuing a Bachelor's of Arts in the United States. Today, I'm a candidate of a Master's degree at a school in Geneva, Switzerland. Though challenging at first, it did not take me too long to understand that my life became that of an international student, filled with hopping from one stop to the next, while bearing in mind that each place has left its mark on me. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, I saw a country ripped apart by ethno-nationalist conflict. I saw many of my local peers of Serb, Croatian, and Bosniak backgrounds sitting together in the same classroom, dining together at the same table, and working together on social service programs. I also saw heated moments where discussions of the tragic early 1990s events broke out, exposing friction and horrific memories passed down from one generation to the next. In the United States, I saw a land vastly different from what I had been accustomed to seeing on television. I saw a people so diverse but the same all at once. When I visited Times Square in New York City, I saw resilience and determination. In Washington D.C., I saw memorials remembering not only the darkest hours of war time, but also subsequent hopes and aspirations. I also saw victims of gross discrimination on account of many stereotypes. In Geneva, I see a city famed for its renowned worldly place in history and international affairs. Today the home of the second largest headquarters of the United Nations. A city where many people from all walks of life have an ambitious goal: to come together. It is also a city once home to the League of Nations, an antique remembered on the pages of history books. What does this have to do with the Arab world and The West Wing? When I travel, only in the Arab world do border officers think they can treat me in ways less than human. This winter break, I decided to go home. It would have been the second time I visit since I left nearly seven years ago. I began my trip with a flight from Geneva to Cairo, Egypt. After having my passport held for almost five hours by border officers at Cairo International Airport, it became clear to me that I will not be permitted to enter the country. It was because I come from Deir Albalah, one of four major cities in Palestine's coastal strip; a.k.a the Gaza Strip. I was confronted with a reality attempting to reduce me to a cockroach: in order to go home, I can only be deported. Deportation means staying at the airport overnight, locked up in an overcrowded room, only to be shipped like cattle the following day to the Egyptian-Palestinian borders --the Rafah crossing point. It was then when I remembered this one line from The West Wing "Birnam Wood" episode: "Palestinians are the Jews of the Arab world." It is bizarre that simply because I carry a Palestinian travel document, some in the Arab world dare to think they can treat me in ways less than human. After all, it is the same travel document I used to go to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the US, and Switzerland. It may have been the case that we Palestinians shrug questionable treatment as though it did not happen, and some may continue doing so. But make no mistake, we never embraced such treatment as a part of our lives. We never will. We make a choice to see whichever thing we wish to see. At Cairo International Airport, they chose to see me as something less than human. Having seen the passengers of five flights go through passport control with respect and dignity, I refused to be deported, asked to have my passport back, and flew somewhere else. Somewhere that recognizes things like being human. In the same episode of The West Wing, a scene captures hope and humanity. Israeli and Palestinian delegations gather at Camp David, and later go their separate ways to pray. Arabic Muslim and Hebrew Jewish prayers appear on the screen all at once, chanted together in a surreal way. Though The West Wing is a work of fiction, I cannot help but think that sometimes all we need is an act that is regarded as fiction to break an unbearable status quo. For many who reside in the Gaza Strip, saying no to deportation is indeed a fictional thought. Nonetheless, simply because Egypt is the sole port in and out of the Gaza Strip, an unfortunate dependency of nothing but geography, we must not accept less than human treatment. is a candidate of Master's in International Affairs. This article expresses the author's opinion and doesn't necessarily reflect the views of Palestine News Network . Dorgham Abusalim

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Publication:Palestine News Network (West Bank, Palestine)
Geographic Code:4EXBO
Date:Jan 9, 2014
Words:881
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