Chat 27 Jun - After-event discussion - Introducing Diaspora and Conflict

Dear Peacemakers!

After each Chat Workshop (an event taking place every second Sunday in Chat), we (the MEPEACE Dialogue Team, that is Cigdem Yilmazer, Clara Singer, Jessica de Souza, Johanna Silverthorne, Tanya Kasim and myself) open a dedicated 'after-event discussion', in order to give the workshop participants and other interested members the chance to elaborate on their points raised during the workshop, share new ideas on the respective topic with others, and discuss with others about the topic.

Information about our event which successfully took place on 27 June can be found here:



Please also have a look at the attached summary of the Chat Workshop!



The leading questions were:


What is a diaspora?

In what ways do conflicts affect diasporas?

What diaspora groups exist in the Middle East?

If applicable, how would you describe your life in the diaspora? What role does your national/ethnic identity play in the diaspora?



During the 90 minutes of live discussion in the Chatroom, the participants, together with the moderators, already addressed these questions to a large extent. However, feel free to add anything here. But please stick to the topic


Introducing Diaspora and Conflict



The Dialogue Team won't interfere in this discussion - however, take into account that 'normal' moderation (as in every other discussion) applies - so please observe the Guidelines.

We are looking forward to your comments and opinions!

Tags: Dialogue Team, chat, chat workshop, conflict, dialogue, diaspora, mepeace, peacebuilding, peacemaking

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Oliver I been on vocation in Israel the last 3 weeks, I am back now and I want to be back on the team :)
Great to hear that, Ohad! Hope you enjoyed your vacation. It would be great if you could moderate in the next Online Peace Talks! Looking forward to talk to you..
As far as diaspora, Palestinians who fled Palestine in 1948, were not allowed to return if they were students in the US and married during the 6 day war, and people who were deported for political reasons are all part of the diaspora. This includes refugees in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. If certain Jordanians of Palestinian descent associate more with being Palestinian than Jordanian then they could be counted amongst the diaspora.

The diaspora will change eventually with both Jews and Palestinians as they get absorbed gradually abroad.

That's the definition of the Palestinian diaspora, basically.


How do conflicts affect life in the diaspora?

It depends where you live and what kind of diaspora Palestinian and which time period.

Palestinians wanting to go home were used by various ideologies and forces and leaders which led to conflict
in Lebanon and Jordan. Palestinian refugees sought to go home and some Lebanese factions wanted
to change the system.

Palestinians in Jordan were pressured to deny their identity. The Jordanian kings were allied with Israel on more than one occasion and sought to preserve their power while the PLO and Palestinians wanted a fight for liberation. It led to Black September. The Jordanian Government makes it hard for Jordanian citizens to keep Palestinian documents or connections.

In Europe, the people of Europe are generally sympathetic with the Palestinian people and the media tends to have more favorable reporting about Palestinians. The European governments on the other hand are a different story. They are afraid to stand against injustices vis-a-vis Palestinians, but that has been changing in Scandinavia, at least.

In the US, there is so much discrimination against Arabs. The media made people feel as if Arabs should be ashamed of being Arabs. They are demonized very heavily including Palestinians. Some decades ago, Palestinians got questioned and harassed by the FBI if they were pro-Palestinian. Also, Palestinian activists and anti-apartheid activists were spied upon by the ADL and nothing happened to the ADL. People can get in trouble if any money remotely goes to any organization possibly affiliated with even charity given out by Hamas, but nothing will happen to people sending money for settlements. However, public opinion is beginning to shift, racism against Palestinians is beginning to become less. The American people are rather nice. It's the government and media that needs to be nicer. Politically when it comes to the media, the Palestinians in the diaspora feel under seige.

Canada is more open to Palestinians and Arabs in general than the US. The government is another matter with the Conservatives. The Canadian media tends to report stories America doesn't report so much. Palestinians seem more connected to Canadian society than American society. French Canada in Quebec is more sympathetic to Palestinians and diaspora Palestinians and their culture than English Canada.
This might or might not have anything to do with diaspora, but both my parents and I discussed identity and both had warned my sisters and I to not feed into what Arab nationality we considered ourselves because that's feeding into divide and rule. One of my mother's students used to ask her where my dad - and her husband - was from originally, and she said, "Does it matter?" However, the more you resist answering that question, the more other people will try to push you to say something you didn't want to say in the first place.

Basil, I remember after 9/11, most Arab and Muslim organizations in the States were afraid to donate any money for fear they'd be called names, not to mention being paid a visit by law enforcement.
The instructor at my school has a view very similar to your parents. She feels that nationalism is the crux of conflict.
Your instructor is correct. It's very easy to let yourself get caught up in nationalistic fervor if you do let people tell you what nationality you should be. This came out of a conversation I had with my dad ten years ago on our way into Amman for work. He said when he was a young boy, he didn't think of his identity in terms of how much of an Arab anyone was. He wasn't an Arab only, but he said the same thing to me and my sisters two years afterwards: don't let anyone dictate to you what nationality you should be.
The summary of the Chat Workshop is now available for download. Enjoy!



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