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Fascinating Jordanians of mixed parentage and origins

Nov 04,2017 - Last updated at Nov 04,2017

My 11-year-old son had an interview for admission in a senior school in England this week. At the interview, he told me later, he was asked to talk about himself.

He started the narration by saying that his grandfather — my father — was forced to leave Palestine by the Israelis and take up home in Jordan where I was born.

He, my son, now sees himself as half Jordanian, from my side, and half English, from his father’s side, living and visiting both countries, belonging to and loving both.

As he told his interviewer, all the elements of who he is, his divulged mixed ancestry and current reality contributed to forming his identity.

In his innocence, as he reflected on how he came across in the interview, he said he believed she found him “fascinating”.

I found this short story very telling and inspiring, but also heart breaking on so many levels. 

This young boy, who had not really been exposed to my Palestinian heritage, was able to sense the historic injustice against the Palestinian people — including the grandfather he never knew — and absorb this fact and project it into his human and political identity facing the world.

He recognised, as his older brother had before him, that this is a cause that they are destined to carry forward and be influenced by throughout their lives. 

It upsets me, because my children, and regardless of what shields of protection I weave around them, will never know the innocence and beauty of political idealism, because they were born with an injustice against them that they cannot shake off and will always influence their perspective on how politicians and powerful countries operate.

I worry when the day comes that they also realise that their father’s country, Britain, helped sign off their grandfather’s Palestinian homeland to a brutal and ruthless occupier.

My son also named Jordan as an integral part of his identity and home. He knows me, his mother, as Jordanian and therefore expects that he is also a Jordanian and has a right to claim Jordan as a home.

Yet my country, where he grew up as a small child and where he regularly visits his cousins, grandmother and uncle, has rejected him and denied him the right to make that claim.

In fact it was that rejection that forced him, his brother and father to pack and leave to England in order to escape their third-class status in Jordan. 

The fact that Jordan continues to deny the children of its Jordanian female citizens the right to pass on that nationality within this globalised world we live in, reeks of xenophobia, gender inequality, injustice and, in my opinion, institutionalised corruption to save the interests of those who have a sense of privilege and entitlement.

I fret that the day will come when my two boys also come to recognise that not only was there a normalisation of a policy to deny them their right to their Jordanian identity, but that Jordan’s government and other official apparatuses allowed a group of loud bullies to intimidate the majority into submission on this policy.

This may look like a personal story. It is not. This is the reality of the majority of families now living in Jordan.

They are the products of forced mass migrations or even intended ones, whether from Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Sudan or Yemen, among what I understand are 36 nationalities that have sought refuge or a permanent home here in Jordan.

We married here, we went to school here, we worked here, we invested here and we dreamed here, and, most importantly, we have a political and social identity that recognises this country as our home.

We want to be the Jordanians of another origin, of mixed religions, married across the continents with other nationalities and races, but we want to be Jordanians and we want our children to carry that identity forward with pride so that they may, in turn, invest in this country’s future. 

We have come to the point in our history where the description “Jordanian” cannot remain a micro-managed privilege bestowed only on those who claim that they are the forbearers of this country.

We have also come to a point where our origins — regardless of what these are — cannot be seen as a liability that takes away from our love for Jordan, allegiance to its regime or our right to access all our rights as citizens.

It is also important that the government come to realise the huge potential of this new generation of Jordanians and win them over in order for them to also contribute to the Jordan we all want. 

I had grown complacent about my children’s right to carry my Jordanian nationality. I intend to be complacent no more… if only to positively spin and realise my son’s truly “fascinating” story of being a dual English-Jordanian national with a Palestinian cause.

 

 

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IF NO OTHER ACTIONS, THE STORY OF THIS YOUNG BOY SHOULD AND MUST TEACH US ALL THE FACTS THAT THE SOLUTION TOWARDS THE CHAOS AND HATE TODAY MUST BE ERADICATED BY MAKING SURE THAT NO CHILD CAN OR SHOULD LIVE IN A LIMBO SIMPLY BECAUSE THE WORLD DECIDED TO GAMES WITH HUMANITY. OVER FIFTY YEARS AND COUNTING AND WE ARE STILL TALKING ABOUT TALK ON HOW TO MAKE PEACE. HOW MANY YEARS OF REFUGEE STATUS DOES IT TAKE THE WORLD TO SAY NEVER AGAIN AS WE DID IN OTHER SIMILAR CASES LIKE THE PALESTINIAN STATUS.

AS USUAL, NERMEEN HAS UNLEASHED ANOTHER SENSITIVE TABOO THAT HAS BEEN SWEEPT UNDER THE RUG. FIRST, I MUST INDICATE THAT BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER SO IT WILL NOT BE UNUSUAL FOR HUMAN TO LOOK FOR THEIR ROOTS. WHAT IS SAD IN THIS CASE IS THE FACT THAT MANY COUNTRIES HAS DECIDED TO SEPERATE FAMILIES, THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES AGAINST GENOCIDE, OCCUPATION, GENTER SELECTION, PUNISHEMENT OF CHILDREN WHO DID NOT SELECT THEIR PARENTS, WHERE THEY ARE BORN AND SO ON. AS HATEM STATED, JORDAN IS DOUBLE DIPPING BY THEIR EXCLUSSION OF THE CHILDREN OF JORDANIAN WOMEN MARRIED TO NON JORDANIAN MEN THEY DENY BREAD, EDUCATION, HEALTH CARE AND OTHER HOST OF SOCIAL RIGHTS WHILE THE MEN KEEPS ON MUTATING FROM ONE CITIZEN TO ANOTHER JUST BY FAKE MARRIAGES AND AIRPORT BABIES. ABOUT FEW DAYS AGO, THE JORDANIAN GOVERNMENT STATED THAT THEY WILL CRACK DOWN ON UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS BECAUSE JORDANIAN JOBS ARE FOR JORDANIAN CITIZENS WHICH I WILL ASSUME AFFECTS ME AND MY SON BUT NOT MY WIFE. IRONICALLY THE ENGINE OF ECONOMIC GROWTH IN JORDAN WILL TANK OVER NIGHT IF PALESTINIANS ARE EXCLUDED. BY THE WAY, A PALESTINIAN IS A JORDANIAN AND A JORDANIAN IS A PALESTINIAN BY DEFULT SO THIS CRAZY IDEA OF STRATIFICATION, DIVISION AND SEGREGATION ON THE BASIS OF BREAD AND BUTTER IS SAD AND UNFORTUNATE. IN THE SHORT RUN, THE EXPECTED WILL BE EQUAL TO THE OBSERVED BUT IN THE LONG RUN, JORDAN WILL UNDERSTAND THE CONSEQUENCIES OF THE UNINTENDED CONSIQUENCY. I NEVER KNEW THAT MANY JORDANIANS SEES AND UNDERSTOOD THESE INJUSTICES BUT CHOOSE THE CODE OF SILENCE. ALL IT TAKES IS A DEBATE LIKE THIS FOR SOME ONE TO WAKE UP AND SMELL THE ROSES ANF FRESH AIR OF WHAT IT TAKES TO BUILD A SUCCESSFUL SOCIETY. THIS IDEA OF PLAYING AND TOYING WITH THE BASIC FABRIC OF A SOCIETY BY RANDOM SELECTING WHO PASSES THE TEST OF CITIZENSHIP IS IN THE SAME LINE AS EXCLUDING WOMEN FROM DRIVING IN SOME COUNTRIES. IF I MAY ASK, IS IT OK FOR A PALESTINIAN JORDANIAN TO JOIN THE ARMY AND FIGHT FOR JORDAN?. IS IT LEGALLY OK TO PAY TAX TO ANY GOVERNMENT THAT ENGAGE IN THESE FIRST CENTURY POLITICS OF TRUMPISM?. THANKS TO JORDAN TIMES BECAUSE THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THAT I HAVE LEARNED SOME VITAL HISTORY OF THE POLITICS BY DIVISION IN JORDAN. THIS IS MAKING ME SICK BUT I CAN NOT STOP LOVING THE KINGDOM SINCE TIME WILL TELL. THAT JORDAN TREATS SOME PALESTINIANS AS THEY ARE TREATING ME AND SON IS NEW TO ME.

And then someone like me, born in Alabama (USA), can have Jordanian citizenship by virtue of being married to a Palestinian from the generation of the 1948 Nakba. (Are you from '48 or '67? If you are from '67, then I must say, you were a refugee in a very bad year when it comes to your passport, am I right?) I hold my Jordanian citizenship in high regard, but did I come by it fairly, compared to a Jordanian woman who cannot pass her own birthright to her children? No, I really did not. So while I am grateful for this dual-citizenship I hold, I do not feel entitled to it.

Interesting how many pregnant Jordanians fly to the USA to have their children - the child is automatically a USA citizen at birth; and when the child has reached adulthood, that person can claim residency rights in the USA for his/her family - chain migration (soon to be stopped under Trump!). Now, children born in Jordan who have Palestinian roots are......?!*

This is a very intriguing parable, I just can't logically comprehend how granting a Jordanian citizenship to children born to Palestinian mothers would lead to the creation of an alternative homeland while concurrently children that are born to a Jordanian father of Palestinian origins automatically get the Jordanian citizenship. Case in point is my own case, my children were born in the USA, they have American citizenship, and simultaneously have Jordanian citizenship. So here is how it supposedly works : If the father of Palestinian origins have Jordanian citizenship he in turn can pass it on to his children, grand children, great grandchildren and so on and so forth. On the flip side of the coin, if the mother of Palestinian origins have Jordanian citizenship she can never pass it on to her children. This is a clear plain and simple case of discrimination against women and the idea that mothers of Palestinians origins passing on their Jordanian citizenship to their children will eventually lead to the creation of alternative homeland for the Palestinians spells nothing but weird antics. Americans allow people that become naturalized citizens of the USA to keep their homeland citizenship if they want to keep it, they don't force them to abdicate their original birth citizenship, and that goes for both male and female subjects. So why the Americans aren't worried that children of women in America with dual citizenship are going to establish an alternative homeland. The officials in the Jordanian justice department need to look another excuse for not granting those children a jordanian citizenship, this spurious reasoning is unfathomable, unjust, and creates a lot of hardship on those innocent children. We implore our parliamentarians to establish a new law or amend the existing one in a way that it will be conducive leading to an equal treatment for Jordanian children born to fathers or mothers of Jordanian citizens of Palestinians origins. Jordanian citizenship has nothing to do with Palestinian citizenship, so is American citizenship has nothing to do with any other citizenship. You can have either or and you can be dual citizen at the same time. If there would be any harm by having dual citizenship the United States would be the first country to prohibit the duality but they don't and they won't.

Excellent article. I liked the three paragraphs before the last paragraph. They should be highlighted.

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