Third-generation Palestinians look to their roots

Palestinians children shout slogans and wave flags in a demonstration in Greece. (AFP)
Updated 15 May 2018
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Third-generation Palestinians look to their roots

  • Now, 70 years after more than 700,000 Palestinians were forced to flee from their homes and villages, the third generation still struggles with national identity and where to call home
  • While most third generation Palestinians have never lived in Palestine, some still feel a strong sense of belonging to the land that was stripped away from their parents and grandparents

DUBAI: For many, the 1948 Palestinian mass exodus, more commonly known in the region as the Nakba, is only known from the heart-wrenching tales that parents and grandparents pass down to their children.
Now, 70 years after more than 700,000 Palestinians were forced to flee from their homes and villages, the third generation since the Nakba still struggles with national identity and where to call home.
“I never say I’m just Palestinian because I have never lived there,” Tamara Yassin, 25, told Arab News. “My ties to it are just my grandparents. My mom was born in 1967 and that is when they left Palestine. I know my roots are Palestinians, but the UAE raised me.” Yassin’s grandparents are originally from Jaffa but had to migrate to Gaza before leaving Palestine for the UAE.
“Life just turned out that way and it’s a place I’ve visited for a couple of weeks when I was 16… I know the history. I know my grandparents’ stories, but three places are part of me growing up and they’re the UAE, the USA and Palestine,” said Yassin, who now lives in UAE-emirate of Sharjah.
After the Nakba, Palestinians were dispersed all across the globe, seeking refuge and another place to temporarily call home. Families were formed and children were born outside the country their parents grew up in, so differing ideologies often clashed.
“I’m a Palestinian who grew up in Saudi Arabia,” said 28-year old Dania Husseini, whose family hails from Jerusalem. “I guess I’m one of those who have an identity crisis. I don’t fit into the typical Palestinian culture or the Saudi or the Western, really. I have a mentality of my own that developed after living in all the environments I lived in and met the people that were part of them.”
Yazan Samir Al-Khatib, whose family moved from Nablus to Puerto Rico during the exodus, said: “I cannot deny the fact that my thoughts and ideologies have been heavily influenced by Puerto Rico as well as the United States. I have a profound love for the Latin culture and somewhat a sense of belonging to the American civilization.”
While most third generation Palestinians have never lived in Palestine, some still feel a strong sense of belonging to the land that was stripped away from their parents and grandparents – one that will never fade.
“I would, without fail, travel to Palestine (West Bank) every summer and it was there that I felt most at home. I would go to school in Puerto Rico and later the US in anxious anticipation for the summer to come along so I can finally board a plane to Amman, cross the Jordan-Israeli border and take a taxi to my beloved Lubban,” Al-Khatib said.
While many have a sense of belonging like Al-Khatib, some believe that it’s where they grew up, and not where they hail from, that forms who they are and where they’re from. “When anyone asks me, I say I’m Jordanian,” said Rand Fermawi, whose family moved to Amman from Jaffa. “I grew up there and so did my parents. I know a lot of die-hard Palestinians who are like that because their parents made sure to let them know what their ancestors went through, but other parents chose not to do that,” Fermawi said.


Cyclone death toll in Oman, Yemen rises to 11: authorities

Updated 21 min 6 sec ago
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Cyclone death toll in Oman, Yemen rises to 11: authorities

  • Cyclone Mekunu left a path of distruction, flooding towns and causing extensive damage
  • One of the dead is a 12-year-old girl who was hit in the head with a door that blew open

SALALAH, Oman: The death toll from a cyclone that battered southern Oman and the Yemeni island of Socotra has reached 11, while eight sailors are still missing, authorities said.
Cyclone Mekunu hit Oman’s Dhofar and Al-Wusta provinces on Friday after intensifying from a category one to a category two cyclone, with winds of up to 170 kilometers (over 100 miles) per hour after it made landfall on Socotra on Thursday.
Oman’s civil defense service on Saturday reported two deaths, adding to an earlier toll of a man and a 12-year-old girl.
“The third is an Asian man who was missing but his body was found late Saturday in Dhofar” province, spokesman Lt. Col. Saeed Al-Badaei said at a press conference late Saturday.
“The fourth is a young Omani man who was swept away in his car by flooding,” he added.
Socotra’s governor Ramzy Mahrous said on Sunday that the death toll on the island remained seven — five Yemenis and two Indian sailors. A further eight Indian sailors remain missing.
The southeastern part of the island remains cut off, but authorities are working to access the area and assess damage, Mahrous told AFP.
Around 1,000 families on Socotra, with a population of around 60,000, were evacuated after their homes were damaged.
The main road linking the airport to Hadibo, the island’s main city, has been reopened, Mahrous said.
Oman’s meteorology directorate announced late Saturday that “the direct effects of the tropical system are over.”
Cyclone Mekunu has now been downgraded to the category of “deep depression.”
Late Saturday it struck Saudi Arabia’s Empty Quarter, one of the world’s most arid deserts, with ongoing heavy rains and strong winds.
The Saudi meteorological authority said on Twitter Sunday that winds blew at 60 kilometers (over 35 miles) per hour, kicking up blinding dust storms.
Rains are expected to continue for two more days, drenching the area with more than 100 millimeters (four inches) of rain, almost six times its annual average, Amman-based weather experts WASM said on Twitter.