Monday, September 09, 2013
Jordanian Learns to Love Israel
Peace on Paper Is Not Peace on the Ground - Yan Barakat
As a Jordanian, I was taught that Israel is our first enemy. People in Jordan (and almost all Arabs in the Middle East) think that Israel seeks to destroy them. It is common to hear conspiracy theories asserting that decisions by the governments of the U.S., Russia and Europe that have adversely affected Arab countries can all be traced back to the Jews. In the mosque, the Imam asks God to make widows of Jewish wives and orphans of Jewish children. In the minds of most, nearly any problem in the Middle East can be traced back to Israel. Therefore, it is logical to conclude that if we stop Israel, or expel them from the Middle East, our situation will be better.
When I crossed the border on a visit to Israel, I saw the opposite of what people told me. No policemen detained me for hours. Instead, people were welcoming and one beautiful woman actually said, "Welcome to Israel Habibi." It was wonderful.
When I arrived in Jerusalem I went to the Israeli Arab neighborhoods. There, I met Arabs who love their country, Israel. After I asked one his opinion about racism from Jewish Israelis, he told me, "If I am in an Arab country, I will not have what I have here. If I go to a hospital, I find all the services I need. I have insurance because of my age. I do not experience discrimination."
I would like to encourage my friends here in Jordan and cousins from my tribe to visit Israel and to meet real Israelis in everyday life, to break down the stereotypes they hold onto. I will not be intimidated by organizations which seek to enforce a boycott on those who visit Israel.
The writer is a Jordanian journalist.