Stateless--last time I wrote about the subject, I looked back in history. I explained that my family, specifically my mother and her mother, were stateless from 1938--1953. Yesterday, I had the privilege of listening to an extraordinary woman who was born in Gaza and is without viable citizenship. She stood before a large crowd and spoke--no podium--about living in a cage without freedom. Gaza is a large cage.
Since she lives in Gaza, the Israeli government prohibits her from leaving. If she travels, her identification will enable her to visit a handful of places, such as Iraq, Syria, Jordan, or Lebanon. The chances of travel to Europe or the United States is nearly nil.
Through a bureaucratic miracle, she has been allowed to visit Japan--due to diplomatic intervention-- and then Europe and the United States a few times. Majhd Mashharawi is an engineer, entrepeneur, and inventor. If she had been born in the United States, she would have probably attended MIT. She is the receipient of many awards. I imagine she could apply for asylum in another country. However, she is commited to her land and her people.
Her passion to help her people moved me to tears; as is often the case when I confront the troubles and predicaments of the Gazan and Palestinian people--painful to watch the videos of human beings treated unfairly; ill-advised, flippant rules continuously applied randomly to peaceful farmers. How much injustice do people tolerate before they explode? The answer is in the news--more bombings, missles, and death.
Ms. Mashharawi's earth-friendly inventions have aided Gazans to rebuild their neighborhoods. She devised a technique to form bricks out of the detritus from bombed structures. Due to her expertise, she developed a process for solar energy to power the devices modern individuals utilize in everyday life, so Gazans could access computers, for example. Obviously, this young woman demonstrates skills that will help her family, friends, and neighbors for years to come.
Creative, passionate, and intelligent--yet feared by the Israeli government. At first glance, one wonders how anyone could be wary of her. But yet, one does not have to be a security professional to realize she is a risk due to where she lives. Hamas, a terrorist organization, controls Gaza and its people. Ms. Mashharawi cleared security, otherwise I would not have heard her speak. She represents 2 million Gazans. It does not matter if she is brilliant or not. A loosening of punitive restrictions for ordinary people to travel must begin. Trust has to occur on both sides.
The irony that Israel prohibits normal citizenship for Gazans is not lost on me. It has been 84 years since German Jews lost their citizenship. I am not a specialist in security; however, since Palestinians and Gazans have safely traveled around the world, including to the United States, there is a precedent. I am scared everytime I board a plane, so I am not regarding this in a frivolous manner. The Israeli government must allow more Gazans--who have been cleared by security--to travel as a tiny step towards the reconciliation process. Peace and freedom are in the best interest for all.
©Karen Levi 2022