Just like me, Omar left Palestine after the Six Day War in 1967. I went to America and he went to the United Arab Emerites (UAE). He was 14 and I was 6. But this story is not as much about him or me as it is about his son Sadiq—well maybe about them both.
Omar was a hardworking Palestinian man who wanted the best for his children but also did not want them to lose who they really are—Palestinian. He kept Palestine in his heart and the hearts of his three sons.
Omar longed to go back to Palestine, just like most if not all Palestinians living in the diaspora. This opportunity came rather unfortunately. In the UAE Omar was a foreman of a governmental agency in the municipality of Abu Dhabi. When his agency was privatized, the new owners quickly turned its Palestinian labor force to Asian. Why? Asians are a cheaper labor force. The UAE had no more use for Palestinians.
So Omar, aged 53 in 2005, tried to look for a job in the Arab Gulf states but he was unsuccessful. Sadiq describes this as “2rza2 inkat3t”—the luck was cut off.
Longing to go back to Palestine and wanting to keep Palestine alive in his sons’ hearts, he went back to his village, Qusra, Palestine, located southeast of Nablus, to build a home for his family. And he did. Omar wanted to spend the last years of his life in Palestine.
Two years ago in the early morning hour of 5 am as Omar was going to work, he suffered a heart attack due to the depression about the plight of his people and the financial worries of borrowing to build his home. Lack of a medical infrastructure because of the occupation, I am sure, contributed to his early demise. At the very young age of 57, Omar became another victim of Apartheid Israel. You see any Palestinian who dies before the creation of a Palestinian State is a victim of hope usurped by the lack of peace.
Sadiq, Omar’s oldest son, is a 25 year old young man who is in his last year of studies at the University of Najah in Nablus studying psychology. Having lived the first 19 years of his life away from the occupation, adjusting to it now has been difficult. He has a hard time understanding others and they have a hard time understanding him. He says the conflict is within his self-being.
He wants to become a respectable person, wants a life without dependence on others and no need to borrow money to live. He wants to earn a respectable living and have enough money to take care of his family. He wants a nice wife and a better life for the coming generation. Now though, he believes that the days are dark—2yam Sooda.
I naturally ask whether he has any hope. His answer is yes and then tells me that those who live outside of Palestine have it better than those who live in Palestine. I try to relieve him by telling him the economic conditions are hurting many people but then I realize he may not be speaking about the economy but rather about the freedom inherent in the human spirit. He tells me that for those who want to come back to Palestine it will be very difficult. Therefore he wants to leave.
While I believe the people of Palestine should continue to be steadfast and stay on the land of Palestine, I find it difficult to tell him to stay.
His freedom of movement is limited. Before Salem Fayyad became Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, the checkpoints from Qusra to Nablus dotted the roads forcing Omar and others to use the hill roads (tareq algbal ) to get to Nablus. What usually took 15 minutes to get to Nablus from Qusra, took 5 hours--unimaginable for any American to comprehend and accept.
His spirit is controlled. He wants to provide better living conditions for his future offspring but in Qusra life stays the same under the cruel occupation.
His only alternative for a meaningful job is in Apartheid Israel after he graduates next spring; but being 25 years old he will not be able to travel through the checkpoints for a job. Apartheid Israel restricts the movement of Palestinians between the age of 16-49 from entering for work. He will need to obtain forged Israeli identity documents.
Before that however, he needs to cross into Apartheid Israel through the back roads and yes sewers. Paying 500 shekels, Sadiq will be able to sneak through sewers, bypass roads and tunnels to get to the other side of the Apartheid Wall. He will be able to join his brother and work as an investigator, mentor teacher or with aid agencies. This way he can support his mother and younger brother who is also attending college.
Sadiq next makes a profound statement that takes me aback. He says “It is hard to live in fear.” Fear of the apartheid soldiers coming knocking at your door at any time of day or night. In the book Kafir Boy, a book about living as a Black boy/man in Apartheid South Africa, I thought I knew what living in fear was. But to hear it from a person that I can more readily identify with, a Palestinian, that statement hit me like a ton of bricks.
Sadiq turns to the violence that the apartheid settlers are committing upon the people of Qusra and upon the agriculture around the town. Apartheid soldiers aid the settlers in their terror escapades.
He provides a website for an article dated September 24, 2011 about the death of Essam Aoudhi, a son of Qusra, who was shot by apartheid soldiers protecting apartheid settlers in their vicious burning assault on one of the olive groves around Qusra. Essam was shot at very close range according to Dr. Sameh Abu Zaroh, a doctor at Rafidia Hospital in Nablus. Others were also injured Read the article and look at over 25 pictures from this incident. http://occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com/2011/09/24/essam-aoudhi-martyred-in-defense-of-qusra/.
Sadiq sends me another website which contains a slide show of pictures of what apartheid Israeli settlers are doing to the Palestinians in Qusra. It is a slide show of pictures about what the apartheid settler are doing. Although most of the pictures are heart ranching, one picture moved me to tears. It is of a young woman whose one side of her face is burned while the other side is intact showing how beautiful her face really is. I am told that apartheid Jewish settlers committed this horrific deed. See the pictures at: http://www.google.ps/search?q=settlers+destroy+mosque+in+qusra+village&hl=ar&prmd=imvns&source=lnms&tbm=isch&ei=dSn7TpuOIojY8QPegb2vAQ&sa=X&oi=mode_link&ct=mode&cd=2&ved=0CBcQ_AUoAQ&biw=1024&bih=568&safe=active
As I peruse these pictures and see what the apartheid Israeli settlers are doing: destruction of Qusra Village mosque; chopping of the olive groves; the offensive Hebrew writings on the buildings of Qusra; the agony on the faces of the villagers; the old lady hugging the olive tree (read my poem: The Olive Tree Howls For Justice http://poetrybyfadizaanayed.blogspot.com/2011/12/olive-tree-howls-for-justice.html) ; the pictures of martyrs; the gunfire of apartheid soldiers; the apartheid Jewish settlers being protected by apartheid soldiers; an apartheid settler throwing a liquid at a Palestinian lady as he passes her by on an otherwise empty street; and the bulldozers demolishing Palestinian homes, I reflect upon Sadiq’s statement, “It is hard to live in fear.”
This is exactly what the apartheid Jewish settlers want the Palestinians to think. I am writing this article in the comforts of the University of Chicago Hospital as I am accompanying my 47 year old brother for a medical test relating to his cancer. My brother is getting the best of treatment. It is easy for me to say from this venue that the people of Palestine should stay on the land. It is easy for me to tell them Samood, Samood, Samood—Resistance, Resistance,Resistance. However, this is the only answer that I can give and the only answer Sadiq’s father, Omar, knew, for he went back to Palestine for his children to keep Palestine in their hearts. I wish I had Omar’s courage.
While I say Samood, I am doing everything I can to expose the Apartheid State of Israel so that one day soon Sadiq and all my Palestinian brothers and sisters can be free of fear.
( © Copyright, Fadi Zanayed. Publication or distribution of this material is allowed provided its content is not altered and the source and its author are cited.)