Entering Palestine

June 20 2009

Robin Yassin-Kassab: “I love it when Arab Christians have names like Omar. It shows, on their fathers’ part, a rejection of the sectarianism which cripples us. I know of a Christian family in Beirut which named its eldest son Jihad, and Muslim families with sons called Fidel and Guevara. Omar is not merely a specifically Muslim name; it’s more particularly a Sunni name, disliked by some Shia for theological-historical reasons. Omar is not a good name to have written on your ID card while driving through a Shia-militia-controlled area of Baghdad. But I know an Iraqi Shia woman whose brother is called Omar, because her father rejected the whole sorry sectarian business.

“By and large, the Palestinians have avoided the curse. It’s still the case that if you ask a Palestinian whether he’s Muslim or Christian he responds, ‘Palestinian!’ I mention this because our guide from Amman to the Allenby Bridge was a Palestinian Christian called Omar, and because the Palestinians, unlike their enemies, are proud of their diversity and pluralism.

“Swaying in the bus aisle, Omar explained that Jordanian officers would check our passports but would not stamp them. ‘The Jordanian government has recognised Israel, but not Israeli control over the West Bank. Why are there Israeli police on the border and not Palestinians? Jordan recognises this as a crossing, but not a border.’”

Rest here.

One Response to “Entering Palestine”


  1. […] Palestinian Christians give their children names like Omar. Old post. It would be nice if European Christians did, too, but it might sound rather pretentious and […]


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