The American Red Cross was hosting a blood drive at my university today so a friend and I stopped by. I would find out an hour later that my identity as a Palestinian was unverifiable.
Before donating any blood, nurses drew a blood sample and, following standard procedure, asked me a series of questions about my medical and travel history. When asked if I had traveled out of the United States within the last three years, I told the nurse that I had spent time in the Gaza Strip in Palestine. She couldn’t find it in the database.
For the next fifteen minutes, the nurse searched every plausible variation of the words Palestine and Gaza and even searched entire geographical regions.
“I remember seeing it there before,” she told me just as she called a field office for technical support.
By this time, she had committed the details of my travels to memory. “The donor flew to Cairo and took a four hour car ride to Gaza, in Palestine. He stayed there for four weeks and then returned, by car, to Cairo.” [Read more...]