Sunday, August 10, 2014

Reflections from the Past


My grandmother, Milia was from Nazareth. Both her and my grandfather Issa grew up during the first world war. They both suffered terribly living here during that difficult time. My grandfather lost all his family members at age 9. He was left alone being raised by a blind relative...He worked and put himself through school and became a well known author and teacher. 
Here is my grandfather and grandmother and their family:


My father was born in 1929. He grew up in a large family in poverty. He would tell me that he never knew what it was like to be full. He would simply eat until all the food was gone.  Below is my father's birth certificate. It was in Arabic, Hebrew and English issued by Palestine as that was the name of the country then (see the top of the certificate):



When the state of Israel was established inside of Palestine (in 1948), my mother, Fawz, was a teenager. She remembers clearly some of the events.  Below is a copy of the Palestine Post newspaper at the time:



My mother was one of the few Palestinian girls that got to not only go to school, but to get higher education (teaching certificate).  This was not common at that time.  Her class consisted of students from all over Palestine (one student from Nazareth, one from Haifa, one from Jerusalem...). She often mentions one dear friend of hers who went to school with her. This friend was killed in Deir Yassin when Zionists entered the village and killed Palestinians there. My mother's friend was teaching in Deir Yassin. The soldiers killed her and all her young students.  My mother said many other Palestinians fled their villages when the Israeli soldiers used go into the village saying in loud speakers: "Leave, or we will do to you what we did to those in Deir Yassin." Those who fled became refugees, a people without a home.

In 1967 my country ceased to exist. Israel occupied it all during the 6-day war. I was born in 1971 and grew up in what became the State of Israel.  Our Palestinian flag was banned. We could not raise it without the soldiers coming to make us take the flag down and burn it. 


Our currency ceased to exist and we started using Israeli currency. Here is an old Palestinian pound: 




What bothered me the most was not having a nationality. I traveled in 1990 and the person at the airport asked me what my natioality was. I just stared at him...I had no answer. I couldn't say "Palestinian", It was not valid. There was no Palestine anymore. I longed for that belonging to a country, to a soil to a government...

But, when I was born in 1971 things here were really good compared to what it has become now. I have fond memories of traveling with my whole family to the dead sea to swim, or to the Mediterranean, to the Galilee, to Haifa, to the Red sea...We would just get in the car and drive anywhere in the country freely...(the good old days!). Now there is a wall! A 25-foot concrete wall that separates us from those places making even dreaming about going there hard.  If our car is caught inside Israeli areas it would be bombed! If we are caught inside Israeli areas we are arrested or shot...What are Israeli Areas? Well, basically 92% of the original Palestine. We, the Palestinians that still live here in the West Bank are only allowed to live on 8% of our whole land. We can't go to the Galilee, the Red sea, the Mediterranean, Haifa, Jerusalem...etc. These places are now off limits to us Palestinians living in the West Bank behind the wall...

I love the sea..I have always loved it. My favorite childhood memories are our family vacations that involved swimming mainly...Our family was so united and we did something together almost every week during the summer. Where would we go now for fun? To another Palestinian city (and spend 2-3 hours on the way)? Why, what is so fun in that?

What saddens me is the new generation. They who have never seen the sea, who don't even know what it was like to look and not see the separation wall...who don't know what it is like to be able to get on a bus from Bethlehem and be in Jerusalem in 15 minutes without passing through checkpoints and being turned back...to be able to just drive to the airport and fly out! (we are now not allowed to fly out of Israel--we must travel by land to Jordan to fly out from Jordan). 

What also saddens me is the fact that this new generation does not see Jews/Israelis. Because we traveled throughout the country in the past, we associated with Israelis a lot, we shopped at their stores, they shopped at ours...but now, we are so separate...The wall has broken up our country and caused hate to increase between both people. We have become what South Africa was. We have areas for 'blacks' and areas for 'whites' and both sides can't imagine living together...

What seems lost also is the beauty of children's smiles. Children who have no concerns and can play in innocence are being wiped out. Look at the smiles of me and my cousin below...so pure and so innocent. Not a care in the world...


In contrast, one kid in primary today brought a sling shot to class. He said he is learning how to use it to defend his home and throw rocks at the soldiers. Another primary child at church prays for the children in Gaza and for their protection.  One child I saw, Jihan, donated her money in her piggy bank to the children of Gaza. She said she is so sad by what has happened in Gaza. She says when she plays, her heart is not there and she can't be happy. She says her heart is burdened by the suffering of the starving, homeless children in Gaza. 

Those I mention above are children!! Where did their childhood go? These burden free years that you get to enjoy before responsibility and trials hit you...Our Palestinian children are being denied the right to enjoy that childhood. When over 70% of the Gaza children want to die to defend their home against the Israeli soldiers, then something is wrong with that picture...They should want a doll, a new bike, a boat ride in the sea, new clothes....I hope there are those out there who can make a difference...If all you can do is pray for justice and peace then that is enough. 

2 comments:

  1. I hope the child with the slingshot was taught what Jesus when the soldier asked what he should do: "Do violence to no man." But that was his profession, his life, to do violence if ordered to--but he wanted something better and came to Jesus seeking guidance.

    All of which is easy for me to type from the safety of my American home. My heart goes out to him; he wants to do what's right. Alma chapter 24 has much to teach us all.

    My prayers continue for you and for all those around you, on both sides.

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  2. Misleading post! You have posted photos of the territory named by the Brits as Palestine, to be more accurate they renamed it as the British mandate of Palestine. There was a french mandate too. The Turks never named that region Palestine and if you go back in history you'll find the romans, after the invasion of israel, renaming all that land into palestine only to dilute the jewish entitlement to that land. So, as country there never was a Palestine mate. The currency was issued by the Brits on behalf of the British mandate of palestine. so please be accurate next you post propaganda!

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