Arabs are generally curious about why a young foreigner is learning Arabic. The problem is that the place where I hope to use my Arabic is often called “Disneyland” by foreigners in
The Israel-Palestine issue (hereon referred to as
I recently found myself sitting with two young Palestinian-Syrians. Each of them was studying English Literature at the
I tried to brush it off, because you know, I am just studying spoken Arabic, not classical Arabic like my flatmate. And, it's just for my work, you know, for my work I need to improve my spoken Arabic.
“Really, well what's your work?”
I turned to my flatmate and gave him a nervous smile. Shoot, I don't know how to get around it this time, and these people seem really cool, maybe it won't be such a big deal.
“I live and work in
I got blank stares. “What do you do there?”
I began to explain the work, which felt like the hugest episode of preaching to the choir in history. Well, there are problems with the settlers, oh yeah, you know, that's why your mom and dad got kicked out of their house and their homeland when they were five.
Then it dawned on me. I am an IDIOT. It's not a big deal to talk about this because
I have been to
I offered some cheap apology about how I wish they could go see the place of their heritage and their family. I bumbled over it being a tragedy that I am allowed to go, but they are not.
In the middle of my apology, Khalid developed a serious expression over his face. “Are you coming back to
“Yeah, I hope to come back for some language study sometime next year.”
Khalid leaned forward, getting as close to me as possible.
“Sam, please go to my village just outside of
The weight and significance of his request hit me immediately.
Khalid pulled out his flash drive and showed me pictures of his village and his family in
- - - - -
This is a sensitive issue for a lot of reasons. But it doesn't stem from some oppressive regime which hates
This is a sensitive, crazy, terrible issue because it involves a lot of real people. Real people like Khalid and Jameela, who have never seen their homes or the land of their ancestors. Real people like Khalid and Jameela's parents, who were born in
- - - - -
Later in the evening, Khalid told me of his plans to attend a university in