United States,Minority group,Jerusalem,West Jerusalem,Palestinians

Preparing My Kids for the New America

February 12, 2017
in Kids

In 2014, when I moved with my family from Jerusalem to a pleasant Midwestern town, I promised myself that, come what may, I wouldn’t get emotionally involved with America. As a Palestinian who’d lived for years as a minority in West Jerusalem, the city’s Jewish side, I’d grown increasingly fearful for the safety of my family in Israel. I escaped to America in order to find tranquillity in a flat land, surrounded by walls of corn, soy, and bitter cold, and I made a covenant that I would ignore American politics. For almost three years, I did. Driving the children to school, I preferred to listen to the chauvinistic jokes of the “Bob & Tom Show,” rather than to the morning news. I didn’t want to know anything about the country in which we were only guests. I didn’t read newspapers, and in the evening—unlike in Israel, where I never missed the TV news—I started to gape avidly at football games, without understanding the rules. In recent weeks, though, like so many people in America, I have become addicted to the news. If, until a month ago, I had no desire to familiarize myself with any American politicians, now I’ve started to wake up from dreams in which Stephen Miller morphs into Steve Bannon as they chase leather-bound files. I get up early to see what the new President is up to, and wait in a panic to find out if he’s going to sign another executive order from his magisterial file folder. He has a long signature for a President, lots of rising and falling lines, and he often wears a fierce expression on his face, as if to let us know that life is only going to get harder. Where in Israel I was a Palestinian, in the United States I’m a Muslim—threats are a matter of geography. But in the past couple of weeks the old, familiar fears have resurfaced. I have to admit that I had felt somewhat unhinged by the (relative) political quiet, and by the absence of the existential threat that had accompanied me all my adult life. I was afraid that the sense of security that seemed...

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