Just finished Mourid Barghouti’s I Was Born There, I Was Born Here (2011, Walker & Co.; first published in Arabic, 2009). It is a set of short stories about the author’s experiences as a Palestinian making trips from Jordan back to his homeland in occupied territories (Ramallah). No matter your political leanings or support for Israel and/or a two state solution, you will find his descriptions of road blocks, walls, difficulties moving around, etc. a reminder of the fact that trauma can result not just from shocking and unexpected experiences (e.g., assaults, rape, domestic violence) but also from the daily grind of living in a police state without the right status. And lest you think he is only talking about living under Israel’s thumb, he also describes living under intimidation in Cairo as well,
No matter the differences in terms and methods from one Arab country to another, such people [those who had just taken his adult son] are always gracious when inviting their prey to be their guests and they will always be bringing them back in an hour or so at the most. Men and women have spent decades in the cells of the Arab regimes without ever finishing that damned cup of coffee.
We got the message.
The message of fear or, rather, of intimidation….
Thuggish authority is the same, whether Arab or Israeli. Cruelty is cruelty and abuse abuse, whoever is the perpetrator (p. 199)
His son was forced to leave the country of his birth (Egypt) since he was not Egyptian. Here’s what the author said,
What has stayed with me from this incident was my inability to protect my son. (p. 200)
Besides the descriptions of interminable waits at checkpoints, rude interrogations, refused entry to home villages for no apparent reason, Barghouti also describes the experience of being seen by others as a criminal, a possible thief, a terrorist instead of the poet that he is.
A worthy read to see life from another perspective.