You want to travel to Greece? You ask for a passport, but you discover you’re not a citizen because your father or one of your relatives had fled with you during the Palestine war. And you discover that any Arab who had left his country during that period and had stolen back in had lost his right to citizenship.

You despair of the passport and ask for a laissez-passer. You find out you’re not a resident of Israel because you have no certificate of residence. You think it’s a joke and rush to tell your lawyer friend: “Here, I’m not a citizen, and I’m not a resident. Then where and who am I?” You’re surprised to find the law is on their side, and you must prove you exist. You asked the Ministry of the Interior, “Am I here, or am I absent? Give me an expert in philosophy, so that I can prove to him that I exist.”

Then you realize that philosophically you exist, but legally you do not.

Mahmoud Darwish, Journal of an Ordinary Grief, in Ibrahim Muhawi, introduction to Mahmoud Darwish, Memory for Forgetfulness