— CG Jung
My obsession with twin selves is making more sense everyday.
Author Randa Jarrar's Blog
According to the Haaretz newspaper, Israel’s interior ministry has been quietly implementing a new rule since April that allows it to refuse entry to Palestinians holding foreign passports to Israel and the occupied territories. Most of those affected are Palestinians who today have citizenship in America or Europe.
Israel has this power over these Palestinians’ lives because, since its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, it has usurped control of the borders of the Palestinian territories. In another sign of how mistaken Western observers are in believing that the occupation of Gaza somehow ended with the withdrawal of Jewish settlers last year, Israel is still able to prevent Palestinians with a foreign passport (as well as those from the West Bank) from entering Gaza.
This new policy of exclusion affects thousands of the wealthiest and most educated Palestinians, some of whom have been living in the occupied territories for a decade or more investing in the economy as entrepreneurs, teaching in the universities or establishing desperately needed civil society organisations.
By comparing the Arabic original to the English translation, by Humphrey Davies (American University in Cairo Press, 2004), I noticed a remarkable difference in the terms used for same sex practices. The Arabic uses terms like " shuzuz " (meaning deviancy or abnormality) and its derivatives, which correspond to English usages such as "fag", "faggot" and "poofter". By contrast, the English translation replaces shaz and shuzuz by "homosexual" and "homosexuality", which do not imply sexual practices that are deviant from the social norm. It's as if the Arabic original urges the reader to condemn people who practice same sex, whereas the English version sympathises with them.
The treatment of homosexuals at the hands of Al-Aswany is similar to the treatment of Nubians and Christians -- two groups marginalised in Egyptian society -- in the novel. With all three groups, we need to ask why it was that Al-Aswany chose to represent them only to vent his venom against them. Is it because they cannot answer back, because their complaints will fall on deaf ears in a society that consistently ignores them, or casts them outside?