Seeing Donald Trump asking president Obama to show his papers, I can’t avoid the association with my long experience in Apartheid Israel. Whether a policeman will stop you as you walk home from the center of Haifa to your neighborhood – or soldiers will stop your car on a roadblock – if your skin is dark enough or you look poor or Arab, they will ask you for your papers.
It is a test of your nerves and stoicism – if you don’t smile politely, if you show stress because you might miss your train or date, if you are simply fed up of being stopped and humiliated – it might be a fateful encounter.
This issue of asking for papers has become much more than a “security” routine. It is the essence of relations between the master and the slave. See who is checking whom and you know who is the danger and whose security and well being the system is designed to keep.
This behavior has so much penetrated the Israeli mentality that for many Israelis this is their natural instinct when they see Arabs. Sometime you meet a very nice Israeli guy in pleasant social circumstances and he tries to be nice and friendly. So, when he reveals that you speak Arabic, he wants to make a step toward you. He says, “Well, I know some Arabic… Hat el-Hawiya (Give me your ID)”.
Some pretty Arab female student even swore to me that somebody even tried this opening sentence on her in a date…
So don’t blame Mr. Trump that, when he sees a black guy trying to enter the white house, the responsible concerned citizen within him is overcoming his lonely dog instincts and he feels obliged to ask “Show me your papers, Nigger!”
No wonder that many Americans feel such a strong empathy toward Israel, until blind support to Israel is at the center of their view of the outside world. Israel is a live proof that you can be a “bright democracy” that serves exactly the “right people” and keeps an iron lid on everybody else. Could you believe that there are still such places in the world?
If your papers are not all right, you might be in trouble. Even if they are perfectly right, you might be accused of insulting a policeman, or trying to attack or run away. If the policeman is overwhelmed by his hard life, he might simply take your papers and tell you to come and look for them in the station or at the military governor’s.
As for Obama, he has no chance. He is suspected of being black and he has no way to disprove it.