Patriotism and Justice

Mureed Barghothi, in I saw Ramallah, wonders if women (or men) from other countries where their country’s map as jewellery, like Palestinians do. I think I have seen some pins shaped like the US with the flag embossed over it. But the extent of this question goes further. He thinks that only when we stop associating patriotic symbols with everything in our life we will be able to achieve our goal, a return to Palestine.
I believe that only when this goal is achieved that we will be able to hide away from this monster we call patriotism. Not that I don’t love Palestine myself, or for that matter not wear the Kuffieh and, occasionally, a cherished Handallah T-shirt, but that we seek to create our identity with symbols.
I like to think of my self as not someone who’s wish, or quest, for freedom in Palestine, is motivated by patriotic emotions. Rather, I believe it is a motive of justice that pushes me to the extremes in thinking and, sometimes, acting on behalf of Palestine.
Some people see our struggle against Israel as a form of patriotism. However, this dogmatic relation to a motherland, is in its very essence exclusive, it is designed for a specific population group and will, inevitably, lead to discrimination towards others. Something that we have always faced and hence we should not seek to impose on anyone else.
It is Zionist patriotism that has got us to this stage, before that was British patriotism, then the Turks. If you observe every patriotic movement on the face of this planet you will find how exclusive it is. How in times of crisis, it borders on fascism.
If we continue to associate our struggle with patriotic motives, then we have no right to slander other patriotic movements based on their exclusivity. That’s what every patriotic movement does.
If we associate ours with religion, then why should we not accept their religious claims? After all, they are to them as sufficient excuse as ours may seem to us.
It is only by thinking of justice, freedom from oppression and tolerance or others that we can put our struggle in its right context.
A motherland is not merely a piece of land to plough, or a house to live in. It is about safety, well-being and dignity. We are not only after a piece of land, for that is available everywhere. Nor are we after a house, for that can be built anywhere. We are after a long sought justice that we yearned for so many years, and been deprived of for so many years. This is the essence of our being.

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