Jillian C. York

Jillian C. York is a writer and activist.

Blogging for Palestine

Thanks to za3tar, who organized the initiative, today is Blog About Palestine Day. I’m blogging the event for Global Voices, but I’d also like to express my own thoughts. The first few paragraphs are about me, so read on to get to the actual point!

I learned about the Nakba and the origins of Israel a bit later than most people. Okay, a lot later. Where I’m from (New Hampshire, a small state in the US that I’m fairly certain most of the world – scratch that, some people in my own country – has never heard of), the most we learned in school about Jews was from The Diary of Anne Frank. Prior to college, I knew two Jews (both were in choir with me), and forget Arabs, nevermind Palestinians – there just weren’t any.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not from hickville nor are the people I grew up around entirely ignorant. But I am from a place where most people over 50 still think it’s okay to make racist jokes (because they’ve never met a person of another race) and the school curriculum just doesn’t find it necessary to include things like the Middle East, Islam, Judaism, Asia, Africa, or most of the rest of the world. In what few geography classes I had, I remember learning about the state abbreviations and capitals, the Hopi Indians (Native Americans), and Brazil. And that’s about it.

And then came college. I’ve probably only admitted this to a few people, but Binghamton University, where I transferred after my freshman year, was huge culture shock to me. Not so much racially – I hung with a nomadic crowd in high school which included people of many races – but perhaps internationally. College was the first time I’d met anyone directly from another country (except perhaps the UK, or my mother’s co-worker from Russia) and I was fascinated. I remember wandering campus in those first days, seeing rallies for Haiti and Palestine and Israel and Russia and just thinking wow, this is amazing. This is where I want to be.

And then one week after I arrived, September 11th happened. And people began choosing sides. I clearly remember one of my roommates saying “towelheads.” My boyfriend at the time couldn’t stop talking about terrorists, and when I went home for vacation, it was “the A-rabs” and how racial profiling is okay, and again, I thought wow.

But rather than throw myself into fear like many people around me, I did the opposite. I picked up a concentration in Middle East and North African studies, took courses on gender and law and human rights in the region and the sociology of colonialism, and decided to major in sociology. I studied Judaism and Islam and the history of Israel and Palestine and dreamed of travel. I got a work-study job in the study abroad office and helped students go to Spain and Turkey and Morocco and Belize. And then, a year after I graduated, I moved to Morocco.

September 11th, 2001 has nothing to do with Palestine, in reality. But to me, there’s a correlation. If that had never happened, I may never have bothered to learn. I was a clean slate when I learned about the history (if you had said “Nakba” to me at 18, I would’ve said “What-ba?”) of Israel and Palestine, and September 11th is what woke me up into doing so. That date changed everything for everyone – and I realize that, for many of my fellow Americans, it was for the worse. But for many like myself, it was for the better.

So, at the end of this rambling tangent, I will say this. I support Palestine. Call it what you will – a two-state solution, peace and freedom for all, or a free Palestine – but I believe in the right, the utmost right and necessity of Palestine to exist as a free country.

5 Comments

  1. Without getting into the whole back and forth over history I just wanted to ask if there are more than an extreme minority that does not believe in “the right… and necessity of a Palestine to exist as a free country?” You may not have meant it this way but it seemed like you were claiming it as if there was a large group who disagrees.

  2. Oops, can’t sign in…

    Anyway, Ben D., you’ve got to be kidding. I sat through a freaking psychology class at Binghamton where THE MAJORITY didn’t believe that Palestine had the right to exist as its own entity. I’m not saying anyone was sitting there going “die, Palestinians” but given the fact that Palestine is NOT currently a recognized country by much of the world and doesn’t have much of its own land, I would say that, in fact, a MAJORITY doesn’t believe in its right to exist “as a free country.”

  3. psst: you have a broken link [Global Voices]

    It’s great to read your story, you gave me a chance to understand your side more.

    For me as an Arab, Muslim, and Syrian, that made me in a clash with Israel on each angel, as an Arab, as a Muslim, and as a Syrian [since we are now the source of evil, u know, bla bla bla].

    To be honest for you, Zionism and Arabs = either us or them.

    No middle solution, I hope that peace works, but it wont.
    peace will happen when all refugees go back to Palestine, and all Israeli should choose either live with us in peace among one Arabic state as they lived in peace with us for over 1000 year, or just leave to their original nations.

    unless that, war will still on, and take it from me, Arabic people can forget every thing, except his land.

    weather 60 years, or 700 year, I really don’t care, I don’t accept half solution, even if the governments made peace, the people wont make peace, and Israel will always live in fear.

    Palestine is 60 years under Occupation.
    Golan Highest is 41 years under Occupation.

    We will never forger, will never forgive.

  4. I’m writing from Lima, Peru.
    I also support Palestina right as a free country. Besides, they were a country until 1948, weren’t they?
    I’ve translated may of your posts in GVO to Spanish for GV in Spanish (http://es.globalvoicesonline.org), and I’ve just translated the interview as Blogger of the Week (unpublished in Spanish), and let me tell you I admire people like you who just won’t let anything keep them away from their goals.
    If by any chance you decide sometime to write about Peru, I’d love to help you.
    All the best!
    Gabriela.

  5. Thank you Gabriela,

    So you’re the wonderful translator! Thanks for being part of GV Lingua (I say that as if I created it, haha). I’d love to write about Peru – unfortunately I don’t know enough about it, but perhaps I can travel there!

    Best,
    Jillian

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*

© 2016 Jillian C. York

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑