By Neve Gordon
My friend’s wife was accepted to a PhD program at McGill University in Montreal. They decided to move to Canada with their two children at about the same time that I was offered a fellowship at Princeton and decided to move with my family to New Jersey for a year. Hoping to rent out our apartments while we’re away, we both posted ads on the most popular website in Israel. I received about five calls a day and found a tenant within a couple of weeks. My friend received only three calls in four weeks, and none of the people who called came to look at his flat.
A few days ago he removed his ad from the website and posted a new one, only this time he changed his name from Hussein to Rami. Rami is an ethnically indeterminate name – it can be either Jewish or Palestinian – but there are no Jews called Hussein. Within three days ‘Rami’ received about thirty phone calls, and six people came to look at the flat. He expects to sign a lease with one of them tomorrow. In Israel, if you are a Palestinian and want to rent a flat, at times, to misquote Arthur Miller, you have to live without your name.
First published in London Review of Books