March 25, 2011

Palestine on form

The census in the UK is supposed to be completed soon.  This Palestinian resident of the UK was in a quandary as to which country to say he was born in.  Here's The Independent:

Census took me home at last
As a British citizen of Palestinian origin, stating my country of birth often poses a problem, and this came to a head when completing the Census 2011 form.
My birthplace, Beit Jala, lies in what is now the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Until 1948 it was Palestine; when I was born in 1951 it was under Jordanian rule and I received a Jordanian birth certificate; it was occupied by Israel in 1967, and is now referred to by the UK Government as the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
The census form allows only 17 characters for the answer, so that officially sanctioned name does not fit. I wasn't sure if "OPT" was a recognised abbreviation, so I called the census helpline.
After much internal consultation, and reference to guidance notes, I was told that "We all know it's occupied" and that I should simply write "Palestine", which I have done, with considerable pride and satisfaction.
It's gratifying that at least Census 2011 is clear about the reality, even while the UK Government dithers. My British passport states my town of birth but mentions no country, presumably a diplomatic cop-out to avoid controversy. Let's hope that the UK Government gets off the fence and properly recognises Palestine as a country.
Johnny Rizq, London W3
I wonder if they do keep a list of official countries...


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