Israeli Arab Chutzpah: Selling Out and Moving Up

Lucy AharishWhenever an article like this emerges, I cannot help but grip the desk and roll my eyes in frustration.

Focusing on the journalist Lucy Aharish [left], all admiration for her gutsy career ascendancy  is outweighed by the cold slap that is her approach to her Palestinian heritage.

Admittedly, this being Haaretz, the writer is clearly trying to promote a message (even if skewed) of harmony and acceptance, a general holler of “Hey, we love Israeli Arabs, too! And they love us!”.

But quotes such as the following are detached and almost scornful; for example, on marriage:

I don’t want to live in a village in a house above the parents of my husband, if there ever is one. I don’t like it when people stick their nose up your ass, or the fact that the neighbors in Nazareth will know when I get home and when I left and who I was with and what I wore. They allow themselves to intervene too much. Some sheikh gave her [Aharish’s mother] something to scatter in front of the house against the evil eye. It stank to high heaven. I told her, ‘Great, now you have pushed them away completely. Who will come here with that smell?

On the identity game:

I think it’s funny. What does an Arab look like? Does he have horns? A tail? So I don’t sound like an Arab. I have no accent. But I don’t know what it means to look like an Arab. My father has green eyes, as Polish as can be according to these categorizations. And there are also plenty of Arabs in Jaffa who speak without an accent.

And on being Palestinian, or not:

What’s more important for me is the brand name Lucy Aharish. The Arab sector does not pay me a salary. My national identify is that of an Arab-Israeli. I identify with Palestinian suffering, but I am not part of it. I have a different suffering here: I am not getting the rights that accrue to me as a citizen of Israel – such as better mortgage terms – because I did not do army service.

The ability to exist in the epicentre of suffering and yet look over one’s shoulder with blasé disregard is oddly disturbing.

Sure, one can integrate – it is not expected that an individual should exhibit outright hostility, nor even nurture it – but equally one does not need to be lost to hold the other.

It is possible to be both an Israeli citizen and hold fast and respect Palestine’s rich cultural heritage.

I cannot help but feel that if Aharish was my daughter, proud though I would be of her ambition, I would nonetheless be saddened by her insouciance towards the past (and indeed, present).

3 comments on “Israeli Arab Chutzpah: Selling Out and Moving Up

  1. Natalia Antonova
    July 6, 2009

    I think that when you’re stuck between several extremes like that, you’re going to want to lash out. I would.

  2. Natalia Antonova
    July 6, 2009

    (Not that I’m trying to be flippant about this, she just sounds so young)

    • Layla
      July 6, 2009

      I know what you mean – if I didn’t know her age (28) I would swear blind she was 17.

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This entry was posted on July 3, 2009 by in Culture, Israel, Middle East, Palestine and tagged , , , , .
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