Discover more from Blind spots with Farah Maraqa
Chronicles of a new "Anti-Semitism Scandal" (part 7): Experiencing Germany before and after!
There is a lot of misunderstanding and stereotypes from all sides: the German, the Palestinian, and the Jordanian.
My exchange for around a week in Berlin was extremely challenging. It was the first time I was faced with a deep questioning of my beliefs and the Germans' beliefs surrounding me, us, and our region.
In 2013, I came to Berlin in the second part of an exchange after the first included some German students coming to Jordan a couple of months before.
For the first time, I faced differences in the vision to the conflict back in my grandparents land and that of the whole region.
As anyone who comes to visit Berlin, your program will be full of stories and memorials about world war II and the holocaust before talking about the German wall and its history. I felt compassion for the people who lived that time, and I felt sorry for their losses.
I know how it feels to be discriminated against, and I remember my grandmas’ stories about their killed dreams while children. Who heard that from a sad brokenhearted grandma can’t help but feel sorry and sad for humanity when it happens with other people, regardless of their religion or race.
People say it is not the same; what the Palestinians face is not the same as what the Jews faced. I agree, as their times and circumstances are different. The grief and helplessness are endless to families of those killed anywhere on earth. In the end, we are all human beings. No one deserves to die with broken dreams or a broken heart.
I asked many basic simple questions in every place we visited. And back then, since being raised in the middle east, I had enough stories that made my region the world for me, while all of what I studied in school about the world wars were a faded memory in the back of my head.
I learned a lot at that time and understood the German's point of view. But I couldn't understand a meeting in the foreign ministry when the guide there avoided talking about the Palestinians when he was talking about the region and "our problems".
When I directly asked, he mentioned a couple of dialogues the German foreign ministry supported between Palestinians and Israeli guys. I asked about their vision about the conflict and the settlements in the west bank and the situation in Gaza; he talked about the funds that Germany is spending there without any further answers.
Later German colleagues explained how German officials are "overprotective" regarding Israel. "The guilt of the history and the responsibility towards the Jews prevent them from making any statement", she added.
That wasn't very reassuring for me. I felt sad and questioned the "ethics" and the "human rights protector". Back then, I remembered what one of the lawyers in Jordan told me before visiting Germany. He said: "We are paying their taxes, and they don't want us to complain; their guilt is making our lives harder, as they don't want to see the other side of the story". This was the vision of many Palestinians that I learned before and after moving to Germany.
There is a lot of misunderstanding and stereotypes from all sides: the German, the Palestinian, and Jordanian.
It wasn't all about Palestine for me; the next day, we had what they called a "Jordanian movie night" we watched a movie that revolved around a radical person in Zarqa, then it showed us Jordan as a country of terrorists. I felt so angry. I started to question all "the German judgments" and their knowledge about our country.
A couple of German colleagues who had already visited Jordan were also confused. By the end of the movie, the organisers told the audience that Germany was giving money to Jordan to face the tremendous radical community.
I stood up, said that the movie doesn't look like Jordan, and my country is much more than just a radical mafia. Some of my German colleagues supported my position based on what they already saw in the first part of the exchange.
The exchange ended with me having a lot of question marks in my head; the most important one was: when these two cultures are going to talk to each other before talking about each other?! I felt my Arab friends and colleagues back then had points, and my German friends and colleagues too, and maybe talking about the elephants in the room will be better for everyone.
Years later, that experience became most significantly engraved in my head, despite being the shortest. I left Germany with a significant surge of adrenaline running in my head; I felt everything was challenging me, my beliefs and my culture.
After three years of that exchange, I concluded that I need to see, feel, and understand the other side of the story if I want to grow. The German point of view was the best to give me more balance for my personal and professional life.
Deutsche Welle was the best place at that time. There was a natural balance. The objectivity in every topic makes the conversation possible between the different opinions, the actual diversity, which made me learn more about the world, and the promotion for human rights, democracy and the freedom of speech.
In these values, respect for German history was automatically established.
I felt I had found a home. I started working hard and studying hard; after my working time, I watched our programs and became a promoter for them even when talking to my family, friends, Arab colleagues or writing to Arab media. Being a freelancer in Deutsche Welle gave me some time to write. It also enabled me to reflect on myself, my beliefs and my life.
No journalist who wrote against me could find articles from Berlin that violate Deutsche Welle’s values. I was utterly aligned and found one more great layer in writing objective reports and balanced critical analysis. I knew how to grow naturally in every single way.
Months before being attacked by the wave, I applied to become a full-time employee, as it could give me yet another opportunity for growth and the ability to experience something I had never experienced professionally before, "Stability"!
That all was before being belittled to a couple out of context sentences and a significant amount of hatred. Now, as it sounds, I am in less stability than I thought I would gain out of the contract. Despite this, I know that now is the time for even more growth and professionalism.
I highly recommend my colleagues- especially those who attacked me- to objectively seek the other sides of their stories, which would help adding more layers of truth and balance their reports!
*This article is a part of my "Chronicles of a new "Anti-Semitism Scandal" series documenting my experience while being wrongfully accused of anti-Semitism and subsequently under investigation by Deutsche Welle and the German media. I am a professional journalist who believes in my profession's mission, ethics, and values, and I will not remain silent in search for the truth, facts, and honest dialogue. I will keep writing and documenting until the end of investigations on the 15th of January 2022 or longer if needed.