Stories & Interviews

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 "The story of my life"

 Wednesday 20 May, 2009

I was born in Beit Sahour in a large family. I have four sisters and three brothers. My father was a teacher of history and my mother was a housewife …. Both of them dedicated their life to raise us all up in the best way and to support us with the education that was possible to achieve in this part of the world. As I am the eldest daughter, I put all my strength into studying …. I graduated from the High School, the Secondary Girls School of Bethlehem, with a high grade. I got a scholarship to study at the University of Jordan. That was in the year 1965, and then only a minority of women were allowed to leave home and study in a different country on their own. My mother was anxious to give me this chance as she herself got married at the age of 15…and was deprived from getting even a preparatory education….

After a few months, I found myself living with other students from the West Bank in Amman. I struggled hard to succeed as the books were all in English about Western civilization, medieval Literature and Poetry... But in 1967 in the second year, the June War broke out and I was separated from my family …. There were no contacts, no telephone calls, no letters…nothing!

Pain was greater than I could imagine …. I couldn't meet or see my father, mother, sisters and brothers….. but as I thought of the message both my parents gave me…"steadfastness, endurance and success.” Their motto was,"We will find a way"," Don't give up!!!" They sent these words with people who left the West Bank and came to Amman.. In1969.  

By Jala Andoni

“I’m the owner of the land, THE ISRAELIS ARE LIVING IN IT”

On the first of May in 1996, Israeli soldiers dug and confiscated our land, in order to join it to a new settlement which they called Har Homa and the Palestinians the Abu Ghneim Mountain.

The Israelis began cutting the 1000-year old Romanian olive trees, and threw them away. My husband Jesus Edwardo sat in front of a huge bulldozer in order to prevent the uprooting, but the soldiers gathered around him and hit him on his neck by their guns. Unfortunately all people were watching this with fear. No one was courageous enough to move, but I was worried about my husband, so I rushed among the soldiers towards my husband trying to pull him as otherwise they would kill him. As a result, they pushed me, so I shouted, “Don’t touch me, I'm pregnant.”

At that time I realized that there were some American journalists and they were taking photos, so I ran towards them telling, “Your government is supporting the Israelis and are helping them to do all these unfair actions. You should go back to your country and tell your government all what you saw. You should do an action to help the Palestinians because for years they have been trying to resist and to prevent the Israelis from confiscating the land and demolishing the houses through all kinds of non-violent actions but without many results.”  At that moment I realized that if I had not pulled my husband at the right time he would have been a martyr or a prisoner.” The American journalists told me “You are right and because of that we are here, trying to send your messages to the whole world.”

After that all people came closer to me and to my husband telling us to go to court, be patient and have more sumud or steadfastness.

But the sad end was that the Israelis succeeded to take half of the land, and they made a road which divided the land into two parts and they surrounded their part with an electrical fence. When we go to pick the olive trees the soldiers come and threaten us.

Tania Ghattas

I am Sandra Nasser. I live in Bethlehem near Rachel’s Tomb by the Wall. I want to share with you my story. We are eight members in the family (my father-in-law, mother-in-law, my husband, my four kids and myself). My father-in-law and mother-in-law built and lived in this house since 1980. Life at that time was very good, there were no walls surrounding us and there wasn’t any checkpoint or border on the way to Jerusalem. The roads were all open and we could go anywhere, even to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the north, which is now impossible for us without a permit. We had an olive wood factory with just 3 workers for rosaries, crosses and several other items. We were renting a store for selling vegetables and fruits. Before that, we had a good income but when the second Intifada started everything changed and the shops closed. After many years we tried to open the factory again but we could not sell the goods. As a result we were obliged to close it again. My husband tried to look for a job but here in Bethlehem was a lack of job opportunities. He got a machine for grinding and sharpening tools for carpenters, so he’s now working but the income is not enough for such a big family.

The taxi drivers start parking their taxis from 4 am till 8 am in front of our house and in front of the stores. They make noise, scream, and take food and drink in the street. When the workers come back from their work in Israel they rest in front of our house; they eat, drink, pray and even take a nap until they find a taxi. Some of the workers have cars and park them in front of our house until they come back from their work. There are about 50 taxis and more coming and going. Our kids have to stay as prisoners in the house until the cars leave, which is at about 8 PM -- too late for the kids especially in this dead area. They want to play in front of the house. This is impossible with all the taxis and workers down. Our house is also a bit small, we only have two bedrooms, one for us and one for the kids, a living room, one bathroom and a kitchen. We went to the police to ask for help but they said, “It is area C and we can’t reach it”. We went also to Bethlehem Municipality to seek help but no result. Neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis can offer help for us. We are frustrated, tired and are thinking to sell the house because we didn’t reach any solution. It is not easy for us to sell our house since it is the place where we began our life and raised our kids. And if we are obliged to sell it we won’t find purchasers since the area is almost dead.

In my house my father-in-law and my son are sick. My father-in-law suffered for more than 32 years from a heart attack. My son Nasser was diagnosed of diabetes type 1 after three months Intifada. He was three and a half years when there was shooting near our house. He used to watch the tanks moving in front of our house. I test his sugar levels 4 times a day and I give him 4 shots of insulin. He’s now twelve years old. 

We pray to God that this situation will end and peace will find its way here in this land where Jesus Christ was born. I am writing my story hoping that someone will read it and support us in a way. Our house is open for all who want to come and visit us in Bethlehem.

Sandra Nasser




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