On a flight from Turkey to the United States last year, I was seated behind a young man from Ramallah who, having finally completed an arduous hoop-jumping process, was en route to see his Palestinian wife in a suburb of Houston. Accompanying him was a gigantic binder stuffed with documents.
As the young man did not read English, he ceded his customs declaration form to me to fill out. All went smoothly until we got to numbers five and seven on the form, which were, respectively, “Passport issued by (country)” and “Country of Residence.”
For the first one we went with “Palestinian Authority.” For the second, we were instructed by an elderly Palestinian resident of Jordan sitting down the aisle to put “West Bank,” which he insisted was the proper response. In the end, West Bank it was—and I crossed my fingers that the immigration official on duty was at least somewhat human.
To be sure, the West Banker was luckier than many Palestinians in that he was able to travel at all—albeit not conveniently—as opposed to languishing in the open-air prison of the Gaza Strip or in refugee camps in Lebanon, where conditions aren’t much better.
Surviving members of the first wave of Palestinian refugees to Lebanon have now clocked 68 years in the country but are still denied citizenship and attendant liberties, including the right to work most jobs. READ MORE AT TeleSUR ENGLISH.