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.


UN warns of worsening hunger crisis in Yemen

Updated 56 min 35 sec ago
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UN warns of worsening hunger crisis in Yemen

  • The World Food Programme is in the process of scaling up its activities in Yemen to provide emergency food assistance
  • Eight million people in Yemen are already considered to be in the brink of famine

GENEVA: Some 12 million Yemenis could soon be on the brink of famine if the security and economic situation in the war-ravaged country does not improve, the UN warned Tuesday.
“Yemen is currently facing the world’s worst hunger crisis, with almost 18 million people throughout the country not knowing where their next meal is coming from,” World Food Programme (WFP) spokesman Herve Verhoosel told reporters in Geneva.
Over eight million people are already considered to be on the brink of famine in Yemen, he said, adding that the situation was being exacerbated by sky-rocketing food prices, which have soared by a third in the past year alone.
“If the situation persists, we could see an additional 3.5 million severely food insecure Yemenis, or nearly 12 million in total, who urgently require regular food assistance to prevent them from slipping into famine-like conditions,” he warned.
This means the UN agency will need more funding, Verhoosel told AFP, pointing out that “the more people (who need help), the more money is needed.”
WFP is in the process of scaling up its activities in Yemen to provide emergency food assistance to some eight million of the country’s hungriest people each month, Verhoosel said.
But he lamented that due to the dire security situation in the port city of Hodeida, the UN agency still did not have access to some 51,000 tons of wheat stocks at its Red Sea Mills facility there, which would be enough to feed 3.7 million people for a month.
“We are doing everything we can to ensure access to these wheat stocks,” Verhoosel said.
Yemen’s air, land and sea ports are currently functioning, so WFP had several ships filled with aid headed toward Yemen, and is working to reposition stocks in case routes are cut off, he said.
The agency has also begun using the port of Salalah in Oman as a supplementary route, he said.
WFP currently has enough grains in Yemen to help 6.4 million people for two months.
But Verhoosel warned that distribution across the country was difficult at best, insisting that aid workers need access and guarantees that their neutrality will be respected.
“We need an end to the fighting,” he said.
Yemen’s brutal conflict has since 2015 left some 10,000 people dead and has created what the UN has dubbed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.