Palestinian-American born in Washington, DC, son of orange growers. Grew up in a Jewish community. Met my first Holocaust survivor, complete with blue numbers on wrist, at the age of five. Grew up hearing competing narratives. Became active in diaspora dialogue, leading to professional engagements promoting peace and reconciliation. Not the cold peace of Egypt and Jordan, but a warm peace where our peoples live and thrive together.
My #1 advocacy: right of return for Palestinians to make aliyah to all of Historic Palestine. The Jewish character of Israel will be preserved because the Jewish character of Israel is in fact the Arab character of Palestine. We are far more alike than different. Nothing tastes better to Israeli Jews than hot, fresh pita purchased on Shabbat from Arab bakers in Jaffa! What was most culturally different between our peoples -- the yiddishkeit -- is quickly fading into obscurity, even in Diaspora. As is said so often, Jews settle into the West Bank aka "Judea and Samaria" to experience "the Real Israel".
In other words, the Real Palestine.
Why I want peace:
I want to reactivate my family's orange business, which thrived for at least several centuries in our ancestral village of Beit Dajan, now called Bet Dagan. My Palestinian family had excellent relations with our Jewish neighbors, only to be violently ethnically cleansed in February 1948. As a community, we Palestinians do not define ourselves by religion, nationalism, or even language because of our widespread Diaspora. Instead, we define ourselves by very small, intimate spaces we call Home.
Case in point: talk to anyone who comes from El Bireh, adjacent to Ramallah. They are the self-proclaimed Paris of the Middle East and Center of the Universe. At least their universe! :O)
There are two large branches of the Dajani family, each with a Home: Beit Dajan and Jerusalem. As I come from the Beit Dajan branch of the family, I want to live nowhere else. I have no interest in uprooting anyone, just a healthy plot of land where the best oranges in the world will grow again.
Oranges are a symbol and source of national pride for both Palestinians and Israelis. It's a shanda (Yiddish for "sin and a shame") that Israel so eagerly uproots agriculture with Caterpillar bulldozers in favor of concrete apartment blocks and urban sprawl. We will preserve the beauty of our sacred, holy land only if we reconcile and build a cleaner, greener world together.
Interests and activities:
Performing opera, B-rated science fiction, low-stress bowling, and backyard volleyball
Something you didn't know about me:
Downstage center, stripteased to my skivvies while singing a Mozart aria
Walla, I visited in Beith-Dagan. This near Tel-Aviv. Say me, you have any contact with organisation Zochrot, that make very serios and deep researches on subject of Palestinian Naqba? If you want, I can to contact you with Eitan Bronshtain - the director of this place.
Thanks for your friendship invitation, Aref; sorry to take so long responding. I haven't been coming here much lately.
In the late 1970s my Palestiian landlord in Chicago was named Dajani. I never thought to connect it with Bet Dagan until now. I wish I could remember his first name. He and his family were very kind to me.
Tried to reply earlier, but think I misfired. Anna lit into me last night about contacting you so I knew about her intention to get on here (in fact, im helping her upload photos). Your story is fascinating, hope we can continue to correspond!