Like every Mizrahi[1] girl, I was embarrassed by the fact that my parents speak Farsi, especially my mother who had a very heavy accent. I mean, think about it. She came here in her 20s. When I was in elementary school, most of the kids would laugh about my mother’s accent. And I was embarrassed with my own tradition. I thought it was…barbaric. I used to go to school in Tel Aviv where most of the population was Ashkenazi and it was a religious school. So it was very complicated. I’m not here and I’m not there. Read the rest of this entry »

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It was a Thursday morning. I didn’t pack anything. My feeling was, ‘God, maybe you want to give me a little extra time on this, maybe you want to change your mind!’ All of a sudden I see 15 air force officers marching towards the back of our house. They were walking three, three, three… five rows of three soldiers. I don’t know if you’ve heard about it, but for every family in Gush Katif[1], the army had worked with psychologists to work to prepare a plan on how to take out each family so that it would go as smoothly and easily as possible. Read the rest of this entry »

I was actually born in Israel, in a village called Shefamer, which is 40 miles outside of Haifa. I lived there for three years. Then in 1979, early 1979, we moved to Australia. I was the fourth daughter in the family, and my father had the foresight that his daughters would suffer the triple discrimination, as women, as Arabs, as a minority…he saw that coming. So he wanted to make sure that his daughters had an opportunity to have a good education, to have work opportunities, to have career potential. So he and my mum decided to move to Australia. And we grew up there. My brother was born in Australia and we all finished our education there. Read the rest of this entry »

The following oral narrative is based on a conversation with Sara Benninga and Sharon Goldberg of the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement, a social and political grassroots movement fighting for civil equality in Israel and an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. The immediate context for the growth of Solidarity was the forced eviction of 4 Palestinian families in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah from their homes in 2009. Each Friday, hundreds of protesters from all over Israel congregate in the small neighborhood, standing shoulder to shoulder with the local Palestinians. For more information, visit http://www.en.justjlm.org/.

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First of all, I would describe myself as Muslim. This is my first identity. Then Palestinian, then Bedouin, and only then, if necessary, Israeli. But now, I identify myself only as Muslim. I’m very proud of my Bedouin heritage. It’s a way of life. It’s very visible that I’m Bedouin. But if I really want to describe myself on the inside, I’m first of all mainly Muslim. Read the rest of this entry »

For people from New York, we’re a big family. For people from Lakiya[1], we are not very big. We are five sisters and two brothers and my father and my mother. So we are 9. Both my parents are from Lakiya. My mother is from the al-sana tribe, and my father is from a small family, Abu Obaid. Till I was 12 years old, I learned in the village. Then in 7th grade, my parents decided to send me to a Jewish school. It was very hard for me because all of the people there spoke Hebrew and I only knew a few words in Hebrew. I also didn’t have any friends. My first year there was very hard. But I learned there till I finished high school, in 12th grade. It was very hard to stay in a Jewish school as a Bedouin, as a woman, as an Arab, as somebody that…I’m not the kind of person that keeps quiet. I’m a person that talks and fights, sometimes. In Lakiya, I was an active leader in my class. But when I switched schools, people didn’t know me, I didn’t know how to talk, I didn’t know what the teacher was talking about, and I felt…outside. I felt the meaning of minority. Read the rest of this entry »

I grew up with strict Greek parents who were extremely upset when I married a Palestinian, the only non-Greek person at the Greek-Orthodox Christian theological college in Boston. My parents are just very old-fashion people that believe that you should marry your own kind. My dad passed away very unhappy. 2001[1] was a very tragic time, where on the news you only see just things that happened in the middle of Gaza. So even though my village of Taybeh was a relatively peaceful location, my parents were just very disappointed that I would marry a man that had no country, who, you know, had a lot of violence in his country, who took me away from “the country of freedom” where my mom and dad went to give me a better life! They thought that he brought me backwards, by bringing me to his home in Palestine. Read the rest of this entry »

You know, I grew up in Israel and the Hula Valley was always a very strong national symbol, of the triumph of engineering and science over nature, over swamps and diseases… The Hula is a wetland that was drained during the 50s, and a very small part of it was recreated as a nature reserve….with  severe ecological effects, detrimental to the water quality of the Kineret. It was a very major story when I was growing up. I even remember as a little girl going there. I fell in love with the place, I really did. It’s so beautiful. So after I completed my first degree in biology,  I saw the ad that they were looking for a warden for the Hula Nature Reserve, I applied for the job and I got it. Then I started being very interested not just in animal behavior , but the conservation, protection of the environment, management… Read the rest of this entry »

I was afraid, like, I remember that my grandmother was holding my hand all the time. We were running and escaping and trying to avoid the tear gas. It was fear. It was really fear. Yeah, I remember the first, my real political awareness or real political activism was when I was 9, 10. It was in 1982. I don’t know if you heard about Sabra and Shatila Massacre in the Lebanon War, the First Lebanon Invasion[1]. Then I was 10, and there was a huge demonstration here in Nazareth against this massacre. And I joined my grandmother, she held my hand. Read the rest of this entry »