the meantime, I ask my readers to recall that Article 13 of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights states that (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement
and residence within the borders of each state. & (2) Everyone has the
right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
Quite obviously, the Jordanian border patrol ignores blatantly these
international rules through arbitrarily creating barriers to movement for
Ziyad's wife and baby daughter.
A CASE OF PURSUING HAPPINESS
some months ago, I learnt much more about Ziyad's lifelong attempt to pursue
work, education, and "happiness". Along the way, he has constantly been faced
with barriers by various governments--but mostly from the Israeli and Jordanian
regimes. I think it is appropriate to use
the term "pursuit of happiness" to describe Ziayad's journey from childhood to
becoming a university professor. I focus
on the "pursuit of happiness" because life has been a struggle for him from
early on, starting with his birth in the West Bank of what is now called Palestine under Israeli
control. Only struggle can spawn happiness for many peoples like Ziyad.
of Happiness" is an American theme, too--and I am from the United States, a country which broke from Great Britain
over 225 years ago, according to its own Declaration of Independence, in order to allow its people to "pursue
happiness". Likewise, pursuing happiness is a Jewish concept that has not yet
been fully internalized in Israel
of this century.
learnt that the pursuit of happiness was extremely important for modern
Israelis (including Zionists) when watching the musical FIDDLER ON THE ROOF as
a child. In that famous American musical
production, which is based on a Russian literary classic by Sholem
Aleichem , one of the key figures is the tailor, Motel Kamzoil.
one of the early important scenes of the play, Motel persuades the main
characters Tevya and his wife, Golde), to
condone his betrothal to Tevya's eldest daughter, Tzeitel. How does Motel
succeed in this? Motel calmly concludes
his plea with this rhetorical statement, "Even a poor tailor is entitled
to some happiness." Isn't he? The Jewish characters in the play and tale
from Aleicham all agree.
despite his humble surroundings, my friend Ziyad has always had big dreams,
especially in terms of education. In the
1980s and 1990s he tried several times to travel from his Israeli ghetto (aka Palestine) on the West Bank to North
America in order to try and pursue university degrees. He was first accepted at a university in the United States but Israel
reused to provide him the exit clearance, i.e. passport & visa clearance,
he needed to leave his Israeli occupied homeland and head to North
America. A few years later,
Ziyad tried again to leave Israel
and travel to Canada
where he had again been accepted to study.
Once again, Israel
would not give him permission to leave.
Ziyad's luck turned and he was allowed about one decade ago to travel from Israel in order to move to nearby North Cyprus (a
country only recognized by Turkey)
and begin a doctorate degree there. Happily,
this is why Ziyad anticipates the chance to defend his thesis later this summer
and to return to Oman
with his doctorate degree in hand.
the interim, Ziyad was finally able to marry. His first child, a son, was born
a few years ago in North Cyprus. As noted above, his second child--a
daughter--was born here in Oman
just after Christmas 2011. This birth in
Oman is now why the baby
girl is now unfairly stuck with her mother in Jordan
awaiting an opportunity to visit her grandparents and family on the West Bank this May and June of 2012.
THE REST OF THE STORY
Sadly, this current freezing-out of Ziyad's child at the
River Jordan is not a "first" for Ziyad and his experience with Jordanian
border control personnel. Similar to the Israelis immigration and security
apparatus which have been so arbitrary in the past with Ziyad and his lack of
free movement globally, the Jordanian immigration officers have often proven
quite fickle over the past decades when allowing peoples to pass from Jordan into
Israeli or Palestinian territory.
I recall that my first attempt to cross into Palestine to Israel
from the Jordan Valley about 7 years ago was blocked by Jordanian
border control officials who apparently wanted more money for their services.
(I refused to pay "what I viewed as a bribe" but came back a year later--and
tried again. This time successfully.)
Later, a few years ago, i.e. after the birth of Ziyad's
first son while he and his wife were living in North
Cyprus, both his wife and the
new-born baby boy had made a similar trek to their homeland to visit their
family. Ziyad's boy was only 4 months
old at the time. Upon arrival in Amman,
the baby was detained by Jordanian immigration, and the mother was told that
she would be allowed to enter the country but her new-born could not.
Well, the baby had been born in North Cyprus and North
Cyprus was not recognized as a country by the Kingdom of Jordan.
Therefore, even the baby's birth certificate was considered invalid.
Ziyad's wife wryly replied, "Here are the baby, the baby's
milk, diapers, and food. I will leave
the baby here and you take care of him while I go outside and bring back an
official in the government to tell you what you need to do in my son's case."
The Jordanian official was in shock as the mother began to
walk away. (Ziyad's wife didn't actually leave the room, but she assure us,
"You should have seen the look on the guard's face as she turned and left the
baby on the table in front of him.")
I ask, "Why should the official have been surprised?"
"When you drive
people to desperation, you should anticipate desperate reactions."
Naturally, not only are Israeli and Jordanian officials and regimes
guilty of trashing the UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS.
In any one year, practically every nation on the planet is
guilty of such inhuman shenanigans, such abuse of authority, and continual breaking
of international agreements. For example, recently for an 18 month-period, the
German authorities in Wiesbaden kept my wife
separated from me and off of the continent of Europe. My wife has a Filipino passport and the
lowest level German immigration officials in Wiesbaden were allowed to manipulate and
reverse decisions for many months at a time.
Later, in another incident, one Philippine airline
officially arbitrarily decided that my wife could not return on a flight with
me to Taiwan--even thought my 7-month-old daughter would be allowed to because
she had a USA passport instead of a Filipino one as my wife does.
My baby was still nursing.
The option for me to travel with the baby was non-existent as our many
of the kangaroo-court shenanigans of so many visa and national security