I'm back with my latest installment of Teaser Tuesday for Daughters of Earth, this time with chapter 5. I'm finishing up the editing process. Here are the previous teasers: chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3, and chapter 4. In this chapter we are "back" in our time, specifically, April 6, 2009 with the brilliant Palestinian Israeli citizen Dr. Sanya Al-Assad. She is the future inventor of BHB which secures womankind's survival. Right now, she works at a woman's clinic in the Negev Desert of Israel providing medical care to disadvantaged women, be them Palestinian or Russian and Ethiopian immigrants. She's the focus of a BBC News website expose. The interview turned to politics and Sanya spoke her mind.
“You’re doing a lot for this diverse collection of women,” the reporter said.
“I do what I must,” Sanya replied.
“If a Palestinian State is ever created, will you live and practice medicine there?”
“To teach and train, perhaps, but this is my home, my roots are here. Why should I move? A Palestinian State alone does not solve the deep-seeded problem of division. The Arab minority in Israel shouldn’t have to leave the country to find equality and justice. We’re second-class citizens here. You know how hard it was to find an apartment when I was in medical school in Tel Aviv? No one wanted to rent to an Arab. We should have equality with the Jewish majority, the rights of full citizens.”
“There’s the notion of, ‘if you don’t like it, then leave.’”
“That’s the American way of thinking. In Israel, when Israelis think something is unjust, they challenge it.”
“But you say you’re not Israeli.”
“Irrelevant. People shouldn’t sit on their hands when they’re faced with injustice. If you want a better life, you don’t run away to find it, you make one where you are. That’s just my opinion.”
“So, you’re opposed to those Muslim leaders here who refuse to recognize Israel and advise their followers to boycott national elections.”
“Including Hamas and Sheik Salah, the leading Palestinian cleric in Israel?”
“They’re not the only obstacles to peace. Look at Israel’s new right-wing government. Look at the new foreign minister. He wants to deport Arab Israeli citizens like myself to reduce our numbers in this country. He wants to divide Jews and Arabs into two culturally homogeneous states. Only Arabs who pledge loyalty to the State of Israel as a Jewish state—not a state for all its citizens be them Jewish, Muslim, Christian, or Druze. This oath plan is directed at Arabs like me, and it’s insulting and unabashedly racist.”
“But you really can’t compare Hamas to—.”
“Violence is not the answer, regardless of who’s committing it.” Sanya’s cheeks flushed with anger. “Teaching our children that violence is the answer is reprehensible. Having children’s programs on Palestinian Television teaching children to say ‘Death to Israel!’ and that Allah will be proud of them if they die trying to kill Jews is obscene. Yet, I’m not here to criticize my people to an Englishwoman, and you’ll show your readers how bad we are and divide us into groups of good Arabs and bad Arabs. ‘Oh, she’s a good one.’ Frankly, I couldn’t care less what your readers think of me.”
The reporter sat forward on the seat with hands clasped in front of her. “No, I’m not trying to make Palestinians look bad or paint you in any favorable or unfavorable light. I apologize if you’ve gotten that impression.”
Sanya took a deep breath and let it out slowly. She didn’t know why she had gotten upset. If she didn’t care what the reporter’s readers thought of her, why did she get riled up? Yet, it was more than that, and she had been on edge for some time. The strain of watching Palestinians suffering from a distance and only being able to provide limited help had been growing.
“I didn’t mean to be discourteous,” Sanya said. “These are just difficult times. I take to heart what has happened to my people, and the future looks doubtful.”
“Do you think there’ll ever be peace?”
“In my lifetime? I don’t know. There have been 30 years of peace between Egypt and Israel, but for Israel and the rest of the Muslim world? There needs to be a seismic shift somewhere for that to happen.”
“Do you see yourself at Soroka Medical Center in five years?”
“No.” She sucked her teeth. “Shame on me for saying that so quickly; it gives the wrong impression. My hope is that once my residency is over, I can transfer to the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv. I love Soroka and the people here, but Sheba’s Joseph Buchman Gynecology and Maternity Center is arguably the leading Ob/Gyn center in this part of the world. Their commitment to developing new reproductive technologies and research in gynecology, perinatology, onco-gynecology, and infertility is unparalleled.”
“Would your husband be coming with you?”
“Of course. Where would we women be without our men?”