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‘Your home is my home!’ — Rivlin slips up at Iftar

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One of my fond memories from a spontaneous and unplanned Easter-season tour of Andalusia with my wife years ago is from a brief stop we made at a roadside lookout where we found another old couple enjoying the scenic spring view. They were local and we itched to learn about their village, the dream locale in the beautiful adjacent valley. Alas, they didn’t speak any English and we didn’t speak any Spanish. We offered them some of the nuts and dried fruit mix that we had. What stayed with me from that brief encounter was their oft-repeated welcoming sentence of “Mi casa es su casa!”—my home is your home.

That pleasant memory came to mind yesterday morning as I read the headline in Haaretz quoting Israel’s President, Reuven Rivlin, in addressing his Muslim guests at the traditional Iftar meal that he hosted in celebration of Ramadan, their holy month of fasting. He is quoted as gushing in his welcoming speech to the group led by Mohammad Kiwan, the chairman of the Council of Muslim Leaders in Israel: “Your Home Is My Home.”

First, I figured that the good man must have made the correct statement in Hebrew and whoever translated it to English, the version I was reading, must have reversed the order of the two phrases, thus resulting in the unintended deadpan joke.

I switched my search engine to Hebrew and googled the combination of the two names which led me to the relevant twitter messages from the president’s account.

Yes, like all significant presidents, Reuben Rivlin tweets. And in both Arabic and Hebrew.

No, there was no mistake in the translation. The reversal of phrases is there in the Hebrew original and in the Arabic version as well.

Rivlin welcomes Palestinians, Your home is my home! Screenshot by Hatim Kanaaneh

Could the president have such an odd sense of humor, I wondered? Could he be on such close terms with his Muslim friends that he had decided to needle them a little about who now lives in whose house?

Both Benjamin Netanyahu and his co-conspirator in torturing Israelis with a second round of elections, Avigdor Lieberman, could possibly stoop so low as to commit such a crudity, we all know. But not the president! He is a polite and smooth talker, not another uncouth bully.

Still, He did make a little ‘sick joke’ in one of his tweets: “I must admit that this year, because of my wife Nechama’s hospitalization I needed no reminder of Ramadan. The medical staff that takes care of Nechama, and of all of us, like all the other patients at Beilinson Hospital, is made up of Jews and Arabs in all positions – doctors, nurses, medical assistants, occupational therapists and others,” Rivlin tweeted. Then he followed with “Many of the guests here are people who devote their daily lives to creating a reality in which Jews and Arabs will not only be sick next to each other, but to work, learn, work together, side by hand.” [Emphasis mine.]

Being of evil mind and intending to make the most of the presumed mistaken translation, I first wanted to know if Sheikh Mohammad Kiwan who was photographed in the article shaking hands with the President, was an internally displaced Palestinian refugee. That, of course would raise the stakes in the unintended pun. Lo and behold, the man turns out to be from the destroyed Palestinian agricultural village of ed-Damoun, his family having taken refuge in Majd-el-Kroum, home of Dr. Adel Manna, the Palestinian historian of Nakba and Survival (Institute for Palestine Studies, 2016) fame. Not only that Damoun has been razed off of the face of the earth but also that one fourth to one third of the Muslims Sheikh Kiwan represents belong to the category of internally-displaced refugees, the category of Palestinian citizens of Israel officially designated as “Present Absentees” whose home villages and towns have been demolished or, in the rare case that they were salvaged, then such homes have been occupied by Jewish citizens, racial identity being the determining factor.

I know, somebody will point out some exception to this rule, but such exception hardly suffices as a salve to alleviate the suffering of the pummeled psyches and bodies of their former owners, many still hanging around within seeing and smelling distance from their former homes and fields. By the IDF’s own count, homes in 531 such Palestinian communities (with rare exceptions) have succumbed to professionally inserted explosive charges and/or to the weaponized Caterpillar’s blade. Several official bodies were created and labored at length to erase such towns and villages not only physically but also from the Israeli public’s memory and the world’s consciousness.

“Had you left it standing in ed-Damoun,” I can imagine Sheikh Kiwan responding, “You would be welcome to enter it.”

Need I remind anyone that such Present Absentees are the lucky few. The majority were catapulted across the border to refugee camps in neighboring states with Israel’s valiant security personnel under instructions to shoot to kill any attempted returnees. It was what we see now every Friday at Gaza’s border with the deadly bullets, but without the contiguous fence, the cameras and the media attention.

I suppose I better fall back on something I know a little about. Let me try and exonerate Mr. Rivlin of any conscious malicious intent. What took place historically was malicious enough and the International Court of Justice has to deal with those issues one day regardless of what Rivlin or Merkel et. al. think. What we have is a classic illustration of a strong subconscious, shooting its warning signs to the surface in a Freudian slip.

“Rivlin, who hosted an iftar feast, tweeted in both Hebrew and Arabic, expressing concerns over Israel’s democratic values,” we are told. That is quite a load for the president’s subconscious to handle.

So: his ever-alert psychological pressure valve mechanism let out the tiny puff that hit Sheik Kiwan in the face. Colloquially, in Galilee, we describe such a slip of the tongue as “malghoumi”—boobytrapped. Watch out, Mr. President!




Hatim Kanaaneh

Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh is a Palestinian doctor who has worked for over 35 years to bring medical care to Palestinians in Galilee, against a culture of anti-Arab discrimination. He is the author of the book A Doctor in Galilee: The Life and Struggle of a Palestinian in Israel. His collection of short stories entitled Chief Complaint was released by Just World Books in the spring of 2015.

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5 Responses

  1. JLewisDickerson on June 1, 2019, 5:30 pm

    RE: “By the IDF’s own count, homes in 531 such Palestinian communities (with rare exceptions) have succumbed to professionally inserted explosive charges and/or to the weaponized Caterpillar’s blade.” ~ Kanaaneh

    SEE: “Declassified: Israel Made Sure Arabs Couldn’t Return to Their Villages” | By Yotam Berger | May 27, 2019 |
    Trove of archival documents reveals how Israel prevented Arabs from returning to villages they had left in 1948 – chiefly, by razing structures and planting dense forests

    [EXCERPT] Israel lifted its military rule over the state’s Arab community in 1966 only after ascertaining that its members could not return to the villages they had fled or been expelled from, according to newly declassified archival documents.

    The documents both reveal the considerations behind the creation of the military government 18 years earlier, and the reasons for dismantling it and revoking the severe restrictions it imposed on Arab citizens in the north, the Negev and the so-called Triangle of Locales in central Israel.

    These records were made public as a result of a campaign launched against the state archives by the Akevot Institute, which researches the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    After the War of Independence in 1948, the state imposed military rule over Arabs living around the country, which applied to an estimated 85 percent of that community at the time, say researchers at the NGO. The Arabs in question were subject to the authority of a military commander who could limit their freedom of movement, declare areas to be closed zones, or demand that the inhabitants leave and enter certain locales only with his written permission.

    The newly revealed documents describe the ways Israel prevented Arabs from returning to villages they had left in 1948, even after the restrictions on them had been lifted. The main method: dense planting of trees within and surrounding these towns.

    At a meeting held in November 1965 at the office of Shmuel Toledano, the prime minister’s adviser on Arab affairs, there was a discussion about villages that had been left behind and that Israel did not want to be repopulated, according to one document. To ensure that, the state had the Jewish National Fund plant trees around and in them. . .


  2. just on June 2, 2019, 6:39 pm

    Thanks very much for this article, Dr. Kanaaneh. I was going batty trying to link to the Haaretz article the other day and I thought that perhaps Haaretz was correcting the article. Alas, it is what he said, and thank you for clearing that up for me! I thought it might have been a Freudian slip. It’s shocking in the extreme that he said it aloud and to Palestinian Sheikh Mohammad Kiwan @ this Iftar. Of course the practice of theft, destruction and displacement of Palestinians by Jewish Israelis and the Occupation/Apartheid government plays out every day in all of Palestine…

  3. John Smithson on June 2, 2019, 8:21 pm

    Sorry but I can’t stop laughing!!

    The world’s greatest Freudian slip! How rich!

    Before he sold out to late night Steven Colbert might have had a lot of fun with this one. Reminds me of the night he rappelled out of the rafters to the floor in full military garb right after the Mavi Marmara (sp?) affair and later asked the Israeli ambassador “Don’t you wish those people should just go back to where they came from?” And he almost answered yes, but then had to check himself – I do miss the old Colbert – He was so refreshingly hilarious!!

  4. eljay on June 2, 2019, 9:37 pm

    … Israel’s President, Reuven Rivlin … is quoted as gushing in his welcoming speech to the group led by Mohammad Kiwan, the chairman of the Council of Muslim Leaders in Israel: “Your Home Is My Home.” …

    Israeli President Rivlin ought to be horribly ashamed of himself for verbally slapping non-Jewish Israelis / Nakba victims, survivors and refugees in the face with such a crass remark.

    I wonder how proud Jewish supremacist (Zionist) Rivlin is with himself for having made it.

  5. Misterioso on June 3, 2019, 10:11 am

    “Your Home Is My Home.”

    Sort of sums it all up.

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