Language is a powerful tool connecting us with Palestinians

Sociolinguistics Series: Part 47

Language is a powerful tool.


Okay, stream of consciousness rants aside, we are back on the bus to Ramallah. The wall we are driving next to is what separates the West Bank from what is considered Israel Proper, and it is a structure of many names.

This is a boundary that runs the length of the West Bank "border," even though at certain parts, the wall infringes upon what is considered Palestinian territory (according to the 1967 Green Lines previously mentioned). In Hebrew, Jews call this wall the "separation barrier," "separation wall," or "security fence," the last of which refers to the parts of the barrier that is actually a fence rather than a wall. The "security" part of that name is called this way because Israelis believe that the wall has actually done a lot to help with the security issues; once the wall went upon, the number suicide bombings went down. People said that they attended more weddings than funerals after the barrier was built.

Arabs call it the "apartheid fence," "apartheid wall," "annexation wall," "colonization wall," or "occupation wall," where the last few are talking about their view that Israel will slowly encroach upon, further occupy, and annex the already small Palestinian territories. Third parties try to keep it more neutral, with names like the "West Bank wall" or "Armistice Agreement Line." Again, you can see how people on all sides choose to call the same structure by different names.

There is a lot of graffiti on the Palestinian side of this wall, usually in protest of the construction. Near the town of Bethlehem, there are some well-known graffiti paintings, including a Banksy ones. Some compare the West Bank wall to the Berlin wall, painting phrases like "ich bin ein Berliner," or "I am a Berliner" on the wall.

Back to the bus, once again. We drive past many established Palestinian refugee camps, such as the Al-Amari Camp. When Palestinians were driven out of their land in 1948 and again in 1967, there were upwards of one million Palestinians who adopted refugee status, either within the West Bank and Gaza or in a neighboring country.

A very quick tangent about other Palestinian refugees: some actually escaped to Latin/South America. Chile houses the largest Palestinian population (around half a million people today, descendants of those who fled during the exodus) in the world--outside of the Middle East, of course. A lot of these communities speak Arabic almost exclusively, so you'll just have random pockets of Arabic language in culture in the tropics of South America.

On a more serious note, the Palestinian refugee crisis is a very difficult one to deal with. The Arab League recommended, at the beginning of the exodus, for Palestinians to keep their refugee status--meaning their kids are born as refugees rather than citizens of whichever host country they are in. To this day, the Palestinian refugee status is the only refugee status that can be inherited; anywhere else, a kid born to a refugee is a citizen to a country, not a refugee. The reason the Palestinian refugee crisis is still so urgent is because of this status inheritance.

Originally, the Arab League had an optimistic goal: the Palestinian identity would remain intact, even among refugees, so that one day Palestinians can return to their homeland of Palestine. However, because of this, the host countries of refugees choose to isolate refugees and keep them in refugee camps instead of having them assimilate into the countries' societies, which they could have easily done.

Now, seventy years later, Palestinian refugee children are still being isolated from their host country communities; these children have never seen the land of Palestine, yet they are told they must only live to return to this homeland. Many of the original refugees of the exodus aren't even alive anymore because this issue has been dragged on for so long. The 2015 census shows that there are over 5 million people with the status of "Palestinian refugee," and the number has only grown since then.

Besides the refugee camps we saw in the streets of Ramallah, we saw poverty that wasn't present just a few miles to the east and south--just over the West Bank wall. We saw some obviously-named knock off brands of Western companies, like "Star & Bucks" instead of "Starbucks." We saw people living in cramped quarters, quite literally right on top of each other. The streets were dirtier than in Jerusalem, and my heart hurt for the Palestinians.

(picture of Stars & Bucks taken by Cassidy Childs)

I previously alluded to Palestinians who commute to work in Jerusalem every morning. These hard workers have to wake up at the crack of dawn to start their long commute--not long in physical distance, but in the number of hours it sometimes takes to get across the wall. They work jobs in Jerusalem because it pays better, and they are better equipped to support their family.

The Palestinian Authority depends heavily on Israel's economy to have their own, but it's scarcely enough to support such a large population. If, right now, the land were to become one united state, there would be more Arabs than Israelis. However, the wealth is extremely unevenly distributed, and Palestinian civilians offer suffer the consequences of their government's actions--some which they don't even agree with.

There is a lot of nationalistic pride, of course, but at the end of the day, people want the administration that puts food on the dinner table. In Gaza, Hamas is an authority that does this for people, which is why Hamas was "democratically" elected there--more on that later. In the West Bank, the PA is scared to hold another election because Hamas might actually win the popular vote, though no one really knows where loyalties lie, since both administrations have their ups and downs.

After we visited the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, we went to meet with a representative from it. He was the ex-minister of agriculture in the PA, and he had a thing or two to say about the conflict. In the next section, I will be talking about that!

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The 10 Most Important Things You Need To Know About Relationships

Without communication, there is no relationship; without respect, there is no love; and without trust, there is no reason to continue.

When you see an old couple holding hands or sharing romantic kisses while sitting on a park bench, doesn't that spark warm feelings of love and happiness in your heart? Doesn't it make you think about how they maintained their relationship for so many years when couples you know have trouble making it past six months? And of course, some people are not made for each other and so their relationship just simply doesn't work. But then there are couples who give up the minute an obstacle comes along, which makes you think their relationship wasn't truly important to them in the first place. What everyone has to understand in order to preserve a strong, happy, and prosperous relationship is that love is colorful, and the same kind of love doesn't exist for everyone. Being in a loving relationship that continues to thrive, I'm going to share some of the few things that I believe should exist between two lovers who want to sustain their prosperous relationship.

1. Communication

Communicating with your partner is essential. I'm sure you've heard it before, but communication is key. If something is bothering you or what your partner wants to do isn't what you're interested in, say something! Neither you nor your partner are mind readers, so how are they supposed to know how you feel if you keep your feelings bottled up inside? Not speaking up and communicating your ideas, feelings, desires, and wants is unhealthy because one day you might blow up and say some things you'll either regret or feel sorry for saying. Communicate to find a middle ground in your relationship because it's unfair for one person to constantly accommodate the other. Relationships cannot grow without communication, so don't be afraid to speak your mind and embrace your thoughts.

2. Trust and Honesty

A relationship cannot continue without trust and honesty. By being honest with your partner, they have no reason to doubt you or not trust you. Trust is vital in a strong and successful relationship because you don't want to think twice about what your partner says or does. Almost anything can be acceptable in a relationship as long as you're honest with your partner. Being in a relationship doesn't mean that everything else in your life has to change. You can still see your friends, go out, and be your own person, but be honest with your partner with whatever you do because by hiding something from them, you might be giving them the perfect reason not to trust you.

3. Forgiveness

No relationship is perfect. That's because none of us are perfect. People make mistakes in everyday life in the same way that people make mistakes in relationships. Of course, there are some things that are unforgivable, such as cheating on your partner (at least in my eyes), because it means that your relationship didn't mean much to you anyway. But, most things can be forgiven. Forgiveness is extremely important and necessary in a relationship because we have to accept and be reminded that we aren't perfect. So if I bailed on you because something important came up or you had a bad day at work and said some things to me that should have been directed at someone else out of anger, it's okay. Sometimes all it takes is a simple I'm sorry and I forgive you.

4. Respect and Appreciation

Without respect and appreciation, there is no love. How can you disrespect the one you love and care for? Exactly: it's hard to find an answer. Respect is the foundation of a healthy relationship. Respect your partner by choosing your words carefully, honoring boundaries, being willing to compromise, showing consideration, and protecting your partner. Make sure you're being respected by knowing your worth, acting honorably, setting and upholding boundaries, being a man or woman of your word, and showing respect for yourself. Appreciate your partner for who they are, the things they do for you, the support they give you, and the growth that they contribute in building your own identity.

5. Emotional Support

Real men don't cry is a load of bullshit. I have been blessed to be surrounded by a few strong and courageous men in my life who I've seen shed a tear or cry when losing a loved one or simply out of pure happiness. We all have emotions and though we try to hold them in check, those emotions sometimes boil over. In relationships, it's important to show emotional support for your partner, regardless if they are a man or a woman. So when your partner is going through a tough time or is struggling for whatever the reason might be, stray away from the pathetic Be A Man go-to phrase and be their shoulder to lean on. If your partner knows that you're emotionally there for them, they might have an easier time opening up to you in the future.

6. Humor

Sharing laughs and smiles with the one you love is extremely important. After all, being in a relationship is sharing your life with someone you care for, cherish, and have fun with. Being able to joke around and laugh with one another is extremely healthy for your well-being and the relationship. It's not just about fun and games, but it's also no fun to be so serious and stern about everything. Keep your relationship alive with some humor, adventure, and daily laughs to see the smile of your loved one!

7. The Magic of Small Things

The small things in life are actually not that small. There are times where the smallest deed can make someone the happiest and that's usually because the small things are the most thoughtful ones. Preparing breakfast when your partner is too tired or surprising them with an iced caramel latte on their way home from work can be enough to make their day. The small things really do count and they are remembered more than you might think. There's something magical in knowing that your partner feels appreciated and happy that they have the privilege of calling you mine. And the small things can do just that.

8. Sharing Interests

Having things in common with the one you love and sharing interests with your partner is perfect because neither one of you need to accommodate the other! There will be days where both you and your partner will not want to do the same things and a middle ground will have to be met, but sharing interests makes it easier when looking for fun things to do and finding things to talk about! Having a few similar interests like bike riding or playing football allows you and your partner to have your "thing," the thing that brings you two together. Liking similar things is also a perfect conversation starter, but also talking about your dislikes and things that you don't agree on can spark an intense and even more enticing conversation!

9. Celebrate Achievements

The happiness you feel because of your own achievements should be the same feeling you get when your partner accomplishes something they've been striving for, no matter how little it may be. Whether it be winning the Noble Peace Prize, having a 4.0 GPA, or hitting a new record at the gym, no achievement should go unnoticed. Being proud of your partner's achievements can strengthen your relationship and bring the both of you closer together.

10. Love and Affection

Love is life. And if you miss love, you miss life. This might strike you at first, but what's the point of being successful, rich, happy or really anything else if you have nobody to share it with? Love is one of life's greatest gifts. It brings people together and allows them to build a life that some can only dream of. But sometimes love is not enough to maintain a prosperous and healthy relationship. That's because relationships aren't easy, people are so different from one another, and relationships take much effort and patience. But in the end, if you don't have love in a relationship, you really don't have anything. Take the time to show your partner some affection, to make alone time a priority. The kisses, hugs, and even sex is something that in the end does make a relationship healthy. But without love, all of that means nothing.

Every relationship struggles, but only strong relationships get through it. Take the time to focus on these ten things that are important in keeping the love alive and feelings between you and your partner strong. And most importantly, remember that no one falls in love by choice; it's by chance, and no one falls out of love by chance--it's by choice.

Cover Image Credit: Marika Cygert

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8 Types Of People Fetuses Grow Into That 'Pro-Lifers' Don't Give 2.5 Shits About

It is easy to fight for the life of someone who isn't born, and then forget that you wanted them to be alive when you decide to hate their existence.


For those in support of the #AbortionBans happening all over the United States, please remember that the unborn will not always be a fetus — he or she may grow up to be just another person whose existence you don't support.

The fetus may grow up to be transgender — they may wear clothes you deem "not for them" and identify in a way you don't agree with, and their life will mean nothing to you when you call them a mentally unstable perv for trying to use the bathroom.

The fetus may grow up to be gay — they may find happiness and love in the arms of someone of the same gender, and their life will mean nothing to you when you call them "vile" and shield your children's eyes when they kiss their partner.

The fetus may grow up and go to school — to get shot by someone carrying a gun they should have never been able to acquire, and their life will mean nothing to you when your right to bear arms is on the line.

The fetus may be black — they may wear baggy pants and "look like a thug", and their life will mean nothing to you when you defend the police officer who had no reason to shoot.

The fetus may grow up to be a criminal — he might live on death row for a heinous crime, and his life will mean nothing to you when you fight for the use of lethal injection to end it.

The fetus may end up poor — living off of a minimum wage job and food stamps to survive, and their life will mean nothing to you when they ask for assistance and you call them a "freeloader" and refuse.

The fetus may end up addicted to drugs — an experimentation gone wrong that has led to a lifetime of getting high and their life will mean nothing to you when you see a report that they OD'd and you make a fuss about the availability of Narcan.

The fetus may one day need an abortion — from trauma or simply not being ready, and her life will mean nothing to you as you wave "murderer" and "God hates you" signs as she walks into the office for the procedure.

* * *

Do not tell me that you are pro-life when all of the above people could lose their lives in any way OUTSIDE of abortion and you wouldn't give 2.5 shits.

You fight for the baby to be born, but if he or she is gay or trans, you will berate them for who they are or not support them for who they love.

You fight for the baby to be born, but if he or she is poor or addicted, you will refuse the help they desperately need or consider their death a betterment of society.

You fight for the baby to be born, but when the used-to-be-classroom-of-fetuses is shot, you care more about your access to firearms than their lives.

It is easy to pretend you care about someone before they are even born, and easy to forget their birth was something you fought for when they are anything other than what you consider an ideal person.

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