Walking the streets of Beirut, I was thinking of the guilty stamps.
When I went to Israel, I was interrogated at the airport. They had gone through my passport and sure enough, noticed some Arabic stamps. They showed them to me and asked which country those stamps belonged to. I said “How am I supposed to know? They're written in Arabic, I cannot read Arabic.” Had they written the dates in Latin, I could have guessed where I was at the time but even the numbers were in Arabic, so I was clueless.
They asked which Arab countries I had been to, and I answered. Then they asked if I had talked to Egyptians while I was there, if I made friends there. You see, I was in Israel to go to the wedding of an Israeli couple I had met travelling in the East of Turkey. I had even played a role in their marriage, or rather the marriage proposal. I had told them that the tradition is to go on a boat trip on the Bosphorus and propose getting down on your knees while the boat is under the bridge. So Amir did exactly that. They, of course, invited me to the wedding. As the two immigration officers asked about the details of my story like:
-why had my friends not come to pick me up from the airport?
“Why should they, they are busy with wedding plans, I can go on my own. I'm a grown up.”
- where is the wedding?
“Here is the invitation, see for yourself.”
- so where is it?
“How should I know?? That invitation is in Hebrew! You are the Israelis, not me.”
- do you have any Arab friends?
I do not remember how I answered that question. I must have said that I of course have talked to Arabs and know some people, or something of the sort. Or I might have told them I did not distinguish people according to their citizenships.
I'm immune from the wrong classification syndrome. I do not judge people according to the place they were born.
Well... Perhaps this national self-identity and putting people in boxes according to where they are born is really a disease. Or a mental disorder. Or a mass insanity. Or a worldwide epidemic. Something that has infected most people on earth.
But there has to be a cure for it. I should make a call to scientists to come up with a vaccine against this so very ubiqutious disease.