What It Is Like Being Invisible
Mon 13th May 2013
"Someone must have traduced Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning".
So starts one of the iconic novels of the Twentieth Century. Kafka wonderfully captures the mood of his time in a nightmare narrative.
Israeli President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres is equally brilliant at creating fiction that captures the mood of the last sixty five years. In a recent interview, talking about Israel's sixty fifth birthday, he had this to say:
“I remember how it all began. The whole state of Israel is a millimeter of the whole Middle East. A statistical error, barren and disappointing land, swamps in the north, desert in the south, two lakes, one dead and an overrated river. No natural resource apart from malaria. There was nothing here. And we now have the best agriculture in the world? This is a miracle: a land built by people” (Maariv, 14 April 2013).
I, celebrating my sixty fifth birthday too, was very surprised to find out that, along with some twelve million Palestinians, I never existed.
I am delighted to hear that Palestine was "a land without a people given to a people without a land".
I am delighted because all that went wrong in my life can now be erased magically because every single Palestinian who I have ever known was, presumably, a figment of my imagination. What I did not know was that I, too, being Palestinian, never existed.
It is wonderful to be invisible. When my wife married me, she married an image. When my children were born, they bonded with a character out of fiction. My ghastly and nightmarish education in Beirut is suddenly pleasant for I never was there to be so miserable.
That time in my teenage years when I ranted and raved at my poor father for never seeing my point of view, I must have been imagining it since he never existed.
In 1967, when I cried over the death of Palestinian friends, I shed meaningless tears because these friends, according to Mr President, never existed - unless they were part of the only life in Palestine: Malaria protozoan parasites.
So many faces that scroll before me as I look back at sixty five years were a great invention of my non existent Palestinian creative mind. My first Palestinian girlfriend was a beautiful phantom capable of great love.
All those children's stories I heard as a child must have taken place in Chicago or Argentina since Nablus, Tulkarem, Jerusalem, Haifa, Yafa, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Netanyeh and many other places were pure fictions, uninhabited save for a few Malaria carriers passing through - not Palestinian but protozoan.
I remember reading Palestinian poetry - or am I imagining these mellifluous lines that never existed?
Of course, my questions are non sensical and a waste of time, since, having come from an empty country, I am clearly not even here writing this piece.
It took a Jew of German culture living in a Czech city to write the nightmare novel of the last Century.
It took a Jew of Polish birth - born in Wolozyn in Poland (now Valozhyn in Belarus) living in Palestine to tell us that he remembers arriving in an empty land and turning it into paradise through sheer hard work! Wonderful story! Even Shimon Peres did not really exist when he was born because the Polish baby was Shimon Perski.
No wonder Jewish Settlements can continue to be built on Palestinian lands. What's the harm? There was no one there apart from a few stones, some wild plants and manufactured memories.
And, Mr President, it takes a non existent Palestinian writer educated in a city that your army almost obliterated, now living in a British town, to show up your fabricated excuses for taking Palestinian lands away from non existent Palestinians.
And your Government tells us, Mr. President, that you want to make peace with us Palestinians. How can you? We don't exist... You even said that you would be willing to swap land for peace. Which bit? The swamp? The dead lake? The Malaria infested area? The desert?
Let us have an invisible conversation about peace. I am willing to live with you. Together we can turn that Palestinian Malaria ridden swamp into the Biblical paradise that it never was.
Happy birthday Mr. President.