My Homeland Is The MUA

“My homeland is the MUA,” says Maz.

His family come from Jerusalem, but after the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, like so many Palestinians lived in exile.
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We were in Lebanon until the Israeli invasion in 1982 when we fled to Jordan,” says Maz.
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But with the 1993 Oslo Accords, which provided for the creation of a Palestinian Authority and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip and West Bank, the family returned to Palestine. There Maz worked for the Israeli heavy vehicle manufacturing corporation Caterpillar for three years.
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When I saw the suffering, when I got to know my country well, when I got to visit the 48 occupied territories, I got to bind with that soil,” he said. “But things got out of hand. I felt under threat. In my work I had to cross checkpoints daily. I nearly got shot. It should take 15 minutes from Ramallah to my home village of Hizma in Jerusalem on the West Bank, but instead it took five hours. I could not go home without being stopped five or six, sometimes 12 times. I had to climb mountains, change cabs, and confront armed soldiers.

Brutal occupation
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When my grandmother was dying she asked for my father. The doctor got an ambulance. Dad climbed in with her. But at the borders of Jerusalem city checkpoint the military stopped the ambulance. My father holds a Palestinian diplomatic passport, he is a general manager of the Palestinian Authority, but they would not give him access.
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On that day my grandmother died in the hospital calling his name.
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I cried, not because of the death of my grandmother, I cried because of the brutal occupation that has no mercy.”

Maz returned to Amman to work with the Jordanian shipping company RSM. It was there he met and fell in love with Delilah, a Palestinian Australian woman.
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I thought Australia was a big island with plenty of ships,” he said. “When I got here I was a bit disappointed to discover Australia had such a small merchant fleet.”

Maz’s father in law is chairman of the Palestinian Workers’ Union in Australia.
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It is Fatah, but Fatah, Hamas, we are all Palestinians,” he said.
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We have been around for thousands of years – Muslims, Christians, Jews. And there’s no reason we can’t live together in peace.
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As an MUA member I believe the Palestinian struggle is like any struggle for freedom and basic rights. It is the same as any union struggle. The workers’ struggle. It’s no different than the rights we fight for in the MUA. We don’t get killed here, but we fight for the right to work, the right to return safely to our families at night. To live in prosperity and peace.
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The MUA is the umbrella that provides shelter for all those voices. Like any other true union it is there for the benefit of its members and their freedom.
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My duty as an Australian Palestinian is to make the message clear for my country, for any country suffering from attacks on basic human rights. International support is important. Unions, boycotting and organising against the companies behind the brutality, not the Jewish people, is crucial.
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Then the Palestinians feel they are not alone. It gives them hope. Ours’ is a long struggle and it’s not going to end overnight.
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I strongly believe that the unions should exert more pressure on the government to be fair, to see the story from a different spectrum at least. To listen to the other side. To try to play an effective role in conflict resolution rather than supporting the aggressor. There are many ways. And in this free country we have means to many tools.”

MWJ also welcomes any stories from Jewish members of the union.