Write down this
I am an Arab
And I work with comrades in a stone quarry
And my children are eight in number.
For them I hack out
a loaf of bread
a school exercise-book
from the rocks
rather than begging for alms
at your door
rather than making myself small
at your doorsteps.
Does this bother you?
My friend Khalil is a Palestinian arab from Al-Jammasin in Jaffa district. His grandfather grew oranges there before it was taken from him and his town destroyed by the terrorists of 1948. Khalil was 6-years old. He was forced to take shelter under olive trees and in caves with his family pursued by the Hagannah.
In the 16th century his ancestors from the Jammasin (Masra’at Hasana) tribe had paid taxes to the Ottoman empire on goats, beehives and water buffaloes.
Now they were driven off their land by Zionists in the greatest genocide of the 20th century.
In the 1930s Jaffa had a communist newspaper called the ‘Arab Labour Weekly‘ and its citizens read Egyptian papers like ‘Rose Al Youssef’. They went to the cinema ‘Al Cinema Wa Al Nas’. There were magazines like Sabah El Keir’ and a satirical one called ‘Al Baaqouqa’ which means the Mess.
The people in Jaffa used to go to the libraries to read short novels and magazines.
This was a very sophisticated society and many families were wealthy.
Khalil’s family was no different, they wanted their son to become and doctor but after Al Nakba he became a boilermaker instead, making water tanks. Khalil went to Germany to work and sent money home to his family now strangers in their own land. He now lives in Australia and makes honey from his beehives which he sells at a local market.
This is rarely seen archival footage that accompanies memories and accounts of forgotten Palestinian cities – highlighting the catastrophic effect the creation of Israel in 1948 had on them.
Banner photo: Al Quds, capital of Palestine.