Al-Lajjun villagers continue their struggle
Lying at the foot of the plain of Marj ibn Amr, an ancient crossroads where the road from Haifa and Lebanon crosses the Damascus to Cairo thoroughfare, the village of al-Lajjun has a long history of political significance. In 1516 when the Ottomans took the area from Mamluk control, Lajjun was one of five district (liwa) towns in Palestine. During the British Mandate villagers played a significant role in the Arab Revolt–the anti-colonial struggle of 1936-1939. This legacy of resistance is proudly remembered by today’s villagers fighting a legal battle from their position as internally displaced only 6 kilometers down the road.
Ziad Awaisy – Nazareth, 1948 Palestine
Ziad Awaisy was born the second of five children in 1974, in the Saffafra neighborhood of Nazareth. For his parents, both refugees of Saffuriyya, this was a great achievement – a son was born in their own home. Their first daughter was born the year before when – more than a quarter of a century after the Nakba - they were still living in a two roomed house with the father’s parents and brothers’ families.
Mohammad Manasra - Växjö, Sweden
“The Palestinian peasant is an educated peasant.” Mohammad’s father’s words accompany the constant ringing in his ears that started when he was injured by a car bomb meant to kill him on the streets of Baghdad. “We were farmers, we knew the land, we loved the land and the land loved us.” It was this love of the land that led the villagers of ‘Ayn Ghazal, on the slopes of Mount Carmel to fiercely resist the Zionist onslaught in 1948. Despite the signinficant imbalance in the level of training and armament that clearly favored the Zaionist forces fighting to clear the area of its indigenous inhabitants, the defenders of ‘Ayn Ghazal, Ijzim and Jaba’ relentlessly fought to keep their families alive and on their land. “The Zionists called our three villages the ‘dirty triangle’ because they couldn’t defeat us, even though they were heavily armed with modern guns and artillery and planes while every three of the Palestinian resistance fighters had to share a rifle!”
Walid and Arjan El Fassed – Vlaardingen, The Netherlands
On 11 november 1963 an old airplane landed on Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. On board the plane that arrived from Amman were 65 young Palestinians from Nablus. The young men were contracted by Romi, a Dutch company specialised in refining vegetable oils. Most of the men were working at The Jordan Vegetable Oil Industries in Nablus. With the help of Dutch experts the company made a restart and in order to educate the young workers, they would work in the Netherlands for two years and then go back to Palestine. The Netherlands was experiencing a shortage of workers at the time.
Abu Rafik Masad - Santiago, Chile
Like all young Palestinians who were born and grew up under Zionist occupation, we have never known freedom, but this value was and remains the most coveted, regardless of the cost or sacrifice.
My family is from Al-Bakaa neighbourhood in Jerusalem. In June 1948, my family was forced to flee under attacks from Zionist forces. They took nothing, only the key. My family came to Bethlehem where I was born and grew up.
Mary Shoufani - Athens, Greece
My name is Mary Rayya. I am from Al-Bassa village in Akka District in northern Palestine. My village was totally demolished and destroyed and renamed Shelomi settlement. The whole population of my village, Christians and Muslims, was expelled in 1948. They were allowed by the Lebanese army to go to south Lebanon, to the town of Al-Nabatiyyah. Then they were moved again further north to Al-Damour. The Christian population of my village was convinced to move further north to live among the Christians in the northern suburb of Beirut. They lived in tents for almost 2 years and then UNRWA intervened and built a camp for them in Dbayeh (established in 1956). Our camp had 4 streets with barracks built on both sides; it was very crowded with houses stuck on top of one another.
Hala George and her family - Edinburgh, Scotland
Nothing in the disruption to me and my family described here compares to the continued suffering and desperation of those driven off their lands in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon. My father’s family are descendants of the Crusaders and originally came from Malta via Greece centuries ago, hence the name and the fair features.
Hussein Loubani - Nahr el Bared camp, Lebanon
One day we will return to our own Home,
And succumb to tender hopes.
We will return no matter how much time passes,
And distances separate us.
--A song by prominent singer Fairouz
Reverend Lilian Mattar-Patey – La Salle, Canada
While she was only two years old when her family was forced to flee their West Jerusalem home, Reverend Mattar was told the story so often that it is deeply entrenched as part of her own memory. Her father, Suleiman Hanna Mattar, was a successful banker with Barclays bank in Haifa, and the bank had moved him to Jerusalem. In the weeks before the Zionist attack on Jerusalem, her sister's closest Jewish friends had told her that there was going to be trouble for Arabs, her father had also been told that if they did not leave their home they would all be killed. So it was obvious when the sounds and tremors of explosions began to fill the house that they needed to leave.
Mustapha Khaled Awad - Brussels, Belgium
His name is “Mustapha” as he likes to write it and for others to use … a young Palestinian man living in Belgium as a political refugee. I first met Mustapha when I came to Belgium as a Masters student from Palestine. But actually I can say that I met him long before that, in my neighbourhood in Abu-Dis or on Rukab street in Ramallah, or maybe on one of my trips into the occupied land of “1948”, where his home village Al-Sumayriyya is located, in the north of Palestine. A Palestinian, alone, missing his people, without laughs or tears…without wedding ceremonies or funerals…without LIFE. I saw him in the faces of the people of my country, looking tired and so consumed, yet full of hope and faith.