Thursday, February 21, 2013

The blogosphere is filled with "Mommy bloggers" who vent about the everyday frustrations they have in life and commiserate with other stay-at-home moms.

But when the mommy blogger is a Palestinian Arab, in this case someone named Nora Lester Murad, her whines must be against Israel. And the Mondoweiss hate site must distribute her ridiculous complaints far and wide:
A lot of people hate going to the dentist because it hurts. I hate going to the dentist in Jerusalem because it hurts, but not in my mouth. It hurts my sense of belonging.

Last time I took my children to the Israeli dental clinic, the receptionist waved us to the x-ray room and a technician hurried my middle daughter into the big faux-leather chair.

“Wait! Why does she need an x-ray?” I intervened.

The woman had straight blond hair and a pink hair extension that matched her pinkish lipstick. She looked at me with a totally unreadable look on her face.

“She’s having her teeth cleaned. She doesn’t need an x-ray,” I repeated in English. My middle daughter was looking uncomfortable in the chair, embarrassed. The other two had backed into the waiting area and were pretending not to know me.

The technician shouted to the receptionist and there was soon a small congregation of Israeli women around me, all speaking Russian. They were trying to figure out what my problem was.

...I was livid, frustrated, powerless.

“She doesn’t need an x-ray!” I raised my voice, following her to her office.

“I decide!” she countered.

By then, all my children were ready to crawl into the medicine cabinet with shame.

And I made it worse.

I approached a Palestinian woman sitting with her children in the waiting room. I asked her in Arabic if she knew enough Hebrew to explain to “those crazy people” (yes, I was angry) that my daughter needed her teeth cleaned, not an x-ray. She didn’t look too happy to be associated with me in any way, but she stood up to help.

Then the door to the hygienist’s room opened and she stepped out, interested in all the commotion. I ran to her. Her long bouncy curls had changed colors since our last visit.

“Do you remember me?” I asked in English.

“Of course!” She smiled at my children and I felt a wave of relief. She is the reason why we go to that clinic. She makes flossing and mouthwash and fluoride fun.

“Can you please tell them I want you to clean my daughter’s teeth? I told them you wrote it on her dental record, but they don’t understand.”

A few minutes later, my middle daughter was reclining in the hygienist’s chair having her teeth cleaned.

“Apparently the person who scheduled your appointment at your last visit thought you wanted to see the dentist,” she said as she worked. “And everyone who sees the dentist for the first time needs an x-ray.”

“You provide services in Hebrew and in Russian,” I said. “Why not in Arabic? Isn’t Arabic also an official language of Israel?
Yes, when you are a Palestinian Arab and you are frustrated by something, it must be Israel's fault.

You see how Israel oppresses Arabs? It doesn't force every dentists' office to have Arabic speakers! (Or English speakers, for that matter.)

However, I want to look at Murad's saying that visiting a dentist who doesn't speak her language hurts her sense of "belonging." Earlier in the piece she writes:

Many Palestinians in Jerusalem go to Israeli dental clinics. Why shouldn’t they? Palestinians who have residency in Jerusalem are entitled to Israeli health insurance. It’s one of the few benefits they got when Israel illegally annexed Jerusalem.

Nearly all the approximately 300,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem are “residents.” They were born in Jerusalem (like their parents, and their parents’ parents) but despite Israel’s annexation, they are not citizens of Israel. They have no voice in the Israeli elections that determine their fate. Not that they necessarily want to vote in the Israeli elections. But I digress.
This little aside puts everything in proper perspective.

You see, Arab residents of the eastern part of Jerusalem can choose to become full citizens of Israel. Anytime they want. Thousands have made that decision.

But many others, including presumably this writer, refuse to do so, for whatever reason.

This is fine. But if you refuse to become a citizen, how can you whine about not being allowed to vote in Israeli elections? All it takes is some paperwork. Maybe you could even then start a movement to get Israel to pass a law that every dentist employ an Arabic speaker!

And this shows the hypocrisy of the writer. She chose not to make a simple phone call to find a dentist office that she could comfortably go to - and blames Israel for its lack of Arabic (and paucity of English) speakers. She chooses not to become a citizen - and blames Israel for not giving her full rights.

It is hard to be sympathetic with people who whine about things they can easily change.

The irony is that just like Nora Lester Murad tries to use her bad experience at a Russian dentist office to show how Israel is to blame at large, her article shows that Palestinian Arab problems at large can often be ascribed to the simple inability to take responsibility for their own choices and to instead always blame the other instead.

(h/t Naftali)

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