This morning I woke up to the fajr athan beautifully projecting through the Jordan air. I sat up and took this experience in. For 23 years now, I’ve lived in the United States, and for all of my adult praying life, I’ve always awoke to an artificial alarm clock reminding me to pray. It felt so natural for me to be here.
Being in the Middle East is amazing feeling. Amazing may not even be the word. I am still struggling to decide if this is a supremacy emotion, but it felt so nice to be a part of the majority for once. I’m sure our flashy tour-bus or my supposed Chicago accent made me stand out as an ‘outsider,’ but I felt cohesive, an instant sense of solidarity with my surroundings.
As Palestinians in diaspora, we are a people of exile. As much as we belong to our host countries or our birth countries, we still have this vibrant attachment to the Holy Land. This attachment is quite different then any other typical immigration story, because our immigration was forced. 1948 and 1967 and many other years that followed are the reason I live in Chicago. Maybe I would have lived in Chicago regardless of war, but I would like to have had that choice. Exile is an uncomfortable position of belonging neither fully here nor there.
In Amman I met a French Palestinian, a Palestinian from Texas, and a pair of Palestinian sisters from Australia. Look where occupation has brought us. Palestinians are indeed the largest refugee population and quite possibly the most dispersed. Palestine has always lived within my heart, but it is so important for myself and other Palestinians around the world to return to this land. To visit, to live, to cultivate this place is a necessity. Ben Gurion said the solution to the Palestinian problem is that the “old will die and the young will forget” but we have not forgotten. Tomorrow I will cross the King Hussein Bridge into Palestine. I can’t write my exact feelings until they exist, but I’m beyond excited. Our exile will be limited.
July 8, 12