Palestine in USA Politics

2016 has been the first election season as you call it for me in America. It has been a learning experience in many ways. I am not used to the extended length of the campaign compared to other countries, especially in the Middle East. It is truly very long. Almost two full years by my count.

It has been very interesting to me as well to see the change from many years of President Obama who has been president since I arrived here. The country is going to change very much, I feel, and it feels like many people have not been speaking up in this way before.

 

I am perhaps less worried than many Americans about what will happen with President Trump. Remember I have seen many worse leaders who were not elected at all, far from the small detail of your electors college. I think it will be very different but not necessarily bad.

 

The one big issue that worries me is what will happen with Muslims like me and with Muslim issues that we care much about. The campaign brought out much hatred and fear of Muslims that was very new to me. I am concerned about what will happen if Mr. Trump continues to speak in this way as our President. I am also worried about how militant it seems to me his choice for envoy to Israel is.

I have known for a long time that there is an unspoken agreement in this country that Israel is always right in their conflicts. That is not fair, and I have often been disappointed by it. Americans look the other way while people like me are pushed from homes by Israeli troops and settlers.

 

The next President may be even more against Palestine. His choice for an envoy to Israel has said he does not believe in a “two-state solution.” For those of you who don’t know that means he thinks Palestine is not deserving to be recognized as a country. This is a very serious issue to my people and to me.

 

We have been in our homeland and in parts of Israel for just as long as the Israeli. If there is not two-state solution there will be war forever. This is why there has been war since the Allies divided up the Middle East. They did not give respect to the sovereignty of my people and now we are displaced. We are refugees in many ways. Or foreigners in our own lands.

I am hopeful than the United Nations will convince Mr. Trump to see the importance of this. But I would like to respectfully ask my readers to ask why America is always so supportive of Israel even when they commit grave atrocities against my people. Surely all parties are to blame, and Israel cannot be given a blank check to do whatever they will.

If this country is at as much of a crossroads as it seems, and many ideas are being tested, I think we should add this one to the pile.

Living with less by using Japanese techniques and the best vacuum

One thing I have observed in the past few years is the new trend of Americans wanting to embrace minimalism in homes. There are many books of Eastern philosophy about how materialism is not good for humans, but much of American culture is about consumerism and materialism from the beginning.

So I am very interested to see so many trendy books, including one by a Japanese author about how to make a ritual out of decluttering your home. She talks about how to give your old possessions a ceremonial farewell and thanking them for their service to you. It was a best-seller in the New York Times.

I think that this is all very good for Americans to learn. I am not pretending to be a model citizen in any way, but one of the blessings I have found from my time in “limbo” between Palestine and Louisiana is that I have become much less attached to my possessions. I have learned to live with less.

This is an idea I like very much. I have seen many other immigrants in my community who have struggled to get by because they want to be like Rich Americans. They buy televisions and jewelry and big cars but still they cannot properly feed their children. It is wrong.

I have been very conservative about buying possessions here. My wife and I could only bring two small packs of things to America and many were lost along the way or taken by customs agents. When we arrived we were very poor. We did not have much aside from a bed and meals in our apartment. It makes you focus on the important things in your life. Family, food, laughter. When you have fewer things, you have better relationships with each thing in your life. They each have an important purpose or you would not keep them.

You should invest in these things because they are the only ones that cannot be taken away.

This is perhaps to restore the American “spring cleaning” event. If you clean regularly, you find excess things to get rid of, or dirt to clean away so you can live more cleanly and comfortably.

So I encourage my readers to make a regular cleaning time and look for things that aren’t necessary.

You may be interested to hear that we in Palestine make a ritual of cleaning the home before prayers. In Islam it is ungodly to keep a dirty floor. So sweeping is almost part of prayers. Sweeping makes you feel like you are taking care of your house. You clean everything, and remove things from the floor to get them out of your way. It is the same approach you must take to your life.

Of course, here is much easier. I have discovered the power of American vacuums and I use them to keep my home spotless. My wife loves our vacuum. I found it for her on bestcheapvacuum.club, after searching hashtags.

It seems to me that the biggest thing to do to be happier in this time now is to de-clutter, so to speak, in your life. This makes sense to me. I am a bit of what you might call OCD so cluttered places make my mind cluttered and nothing is easy to do. This also makes me feel like there is less chaos and uncertainty which is what I have tried to get away from in my life.

As a person from a place that is in conflict I have also seen the benefit of aid workers and aid supplies sent by America. I understand that many people feel like they do not have more to give to other people in the world. However, it seems to me that many people live with excess and all those things take money. There are so many better uses for extra money than an extra TV. I think that ordinary Americans would be very surprised to learn how much difference they might make by sending even a small amount of money to help others instead of buying extra things.

But if Americans learn to live with less, I do not think they sacrifice the quality of life. All these books and many studies prove the reverse. So you will do better, and have more resources to give to meaningful things like aid overseas and to fix important things in America through charity and giving.

Here is to this trend of minimalism and de-cluttering continues. It is good for all of us.

Thinking Like An Immigrant

Thinking Like An Immigrant

I am always being asked what it is like as an immigrant in this country. People are fascinated by the idea of it. I always find that fun, because it makes me think like a journalist about myself!

Many people are demonizing immigrants in the media and in the politics right now.

I want to set the record straight. As an immigrant I can tell you that we have a very healthy mentality. We are not here to take your resources. We do the jobs you do not want to do very often, and we work hard to earn what we have.

And while we have much to learn about your culture, I think it would be a good idea for many Americans to start thinking more like immigrants too.

Here is why.

As an immigrant, you are always thinking of what might happen from out of the blue. You save money to be prepared. That is a much better mentality than when many Americans spend whatever they have left over from every pay day. Americans should save money for when you might need it down the road.

If you save even $10 a day you will be surprised at how much is in your piggy bank at the end of the year. And it will be so much easier for you. For us it is a struggle to set the money aside to help our families back home or to feed our families here in the United States. For you, it is as simple as skipping a burger or an extra movie ticket. This is how you will become as good as an immigrant at dealing with emergencies and other things you don’t expect.

Take every opportunity to get free things or things at discounts. You never see immigrants buying things at full prices in shops. That is because we know better. You may think we are too poor to buy clothing from normal shelves but we go to the clearance rack because we know we get many more things for our dollars there. If you are a patient shopper as we have learned to be you will learn that you should never have to pay more than 75% of what a price tag is marked. Immigrants are used to haggling and being what you call “shrewd” a new word for me. If you control your need to have things immediately you will save so much money at discount season.

Immigrants also live very modestly. We cannot afford the luxuries of very expensive cell phones and many television channels. I think that if every American had to live as one of us for one month, they would find many things in their lives unnecessary.

Many of the world’s problems would be solved by us buying fewer possessions. You would save the environment. You would re-use waste like plastic containers and bags. Immigrants are very good recyclers. And you would feel less anxiety in your life because you would have more money to spend on food and rest.

I have been thinking a lot about this. And you can read my article about living modestly and finding spiritual happiness through vacuums from last week.

In the end I think immigrants bring a fresh perspective to America. They can see when things are a waste of money and when you are being careless which will get you in trouble when things go badly.