This is the case of Salam Kedan, a Palestinian presenter with an Israeli passport. The 18 year old girl was born in Hadera, Israel and grew up in Baqa al-Gharbiyye, an Arab city in Israel, located near the infamous Green Line. During her presentation, Kedan talked about her life caught between two conflicting cultural identities, “I didn’t feel like I belonged to any state. I couldn’t say where I was from.”
Kedan continued explaining that despite her Israeli citizenship, she was still treated like an outcast in the Jewish homeland due to her Arab origins and Muslim background. “My family and I often get pulled over and searched in public for security reasons. It was always humiliating.” Kedan’s presentation touched on a more personal issue, the unjust treatment of Arab-Israeli passport holders, such as their poor representation in the Jewish government. Kedan explained that the Kinesset (Israeli Legislative body) only had 12 Arab representatives out of 120. Kedan also expressed her remorse over the educational system. The Israeli curriculum doesn’t involve any Palestinian history, “It’s like they want you to forget who you are and your Palestinian heritage.”
In addition, Kedan spoke of the difficulty she had to face as a Muslim in an Israeli run school, “Universities under the Jewish government make it harder for Arabs to get accepted. Often times they hold interviews for prospective Arab students, but never get accepted for any apparent reason.” Kedan also expressed the difficulty for Muslims to get a job because their recruitment is considered a threat to the Jewish government
However, Keddan’s reaction from fellow Muslim Arabs regarding her citizenship isn’t very welcoming, “I didn’t feel like I belonged to Palestine either, I was always treated like a stranger in Palestinian cities.” Kedan’s passport isn’t recognized by many countries, an example of this was when she wanted to visit Saudi Arabia, “I had to get a Jordanian passport and travel through Jordan to get there because Saudi Arabia doesn’t recognize the Israeli state.” This was the case for Kedan when she wanted to visit Doha as well, she is currently in Doha on a government status visa.
Despite her experiences, Kedan is still optimistic that a bright future is ahead for Arab-Israeli citizens. “If small acts of kindness like me (is) being accepted into Qatar (and) continue to happen to all Arab-Israeli citizen’s, then Arab-Israeli citizens will one day be accepted by both Israelis and Arabs.” She also shared her MUN experiences with us, “I meet and interact with many Jewish students during conferences and in school and they are often very accepting of me, I have also encountered many Arabs that were very accepting of my status.”
But even as a teenager, Kedan isn’t tired of being treated like a political figure, “I’m just glad I have the chance to educate people about the Arab-Israeli citizens. A lot of people just find it so crazy that we even exist.” However, Kedan can still kick back and relax like any other teenager. “My favorite ice cream flavor is chocolate, I love comedy movies, and am a big fan of music.” Israeli passport or not, Kedan is still just another teen just trying to find her identity between both worlds.
By: Sarra Hamid