Days of Palestine

Sunday, February 5

Palestinian woman between bitterness of occupation and dream of freedom

Days of Palestine -

Mahmoud Darwish, a Palestinian poet summed up what I need to say about the Palestinian woman with the words “Mother, I will not name you a woman, I will name you everything.”

In celebration of Women’s International Day on March 8th, I am unveiling the stories of five Palestinian women scattered around the world from Ramallah, Tulkarem, Al-Jalil and Lebanon.

Palestinian women have faced the struggle and continue sacrificing daily to fight for freedom, reject humiliation and resist the Israeli occupation. Through their struggle, they have woven myths of bravery towards freedom.  Palestinian women played a key role in the 1936 revolution, the attempts to defend Palestinian during the Nakba in 1948, the 1967 war, the first Intifada in 1987, the second Intifada in 2000 and the popular resistance adopting Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) since 2005.

In violation of the international law, Palestinian women are in captivity with statistics showing that 84 women and girls were arrested in 2017. According to the Palestinian Information Centre, at least 370 Palestinian women and girls were arrested by the Israeli occupation forces since 2000.

Israeli occupation treats the Palestinian women in prison harshly and that in violation of the international law. They are subject to various types of psychological and physical pressure, as well as displacement from their homes.  After 1948 and during the 1967 war, hundreds of thousands were displaced from their homeland.

Palestinian women have leapt over all traditional barriers and have been engaged in political life, all forms of resistance, preserving national identity, uniting the dispersed family and hanging on to the memory for Palestinians who were raised by refugee families and who never saw Palestine. 

All of this helped preserve a clear picture of Palestine through the stories told by mothers, grandmothers and aunts. Despite all of the efforts to erase the Palestinian identity, the woman through oral history, embroidery art and Palestinian cuisine was able to preserve this identity and pass it on to the next generation.

Tasaheel Burnat is a 37-year-old Palestinian activist from the village of Bilin near Ramallah in the West Bank.  Together with her husband Iyad Burnat and their five children, they are considered coordinator of the popular resistance in Bilin.

In 2004, the occupation confiscated 60 per cent of the village land in order to build the Separation Wall on the Palestinian farmlands lands. Since 2005, Tasaheel along with the residents of Bilin and international activists have been engaged in weekly Friday demonstrations.  Tasaheel is a symbol of the Palestinian woman who resist the occupation alongside their families. She has been subjected to violence many times and her husband was arrested many times.  Three of her sons had been arrested when they were under the age of 18.

Majd was injured and he is receiving medical treatment in Turkey, Abed al-Khaliq was injured and he is now in prison and Mohammed was injured and jailed but was release after paying a fine.  Mayar and Mohyiddeen are very young but demonstrating with the family and villagers. Resistance is a part of the Burnat family, and even though their house, like many other houses in Bilin, is targeted by Israeli soldiers.

Hiba al-Jindawi is a Palestinian journalist living in Hilalia Area near Sidon in Lebanon.  Her grandparents from Nazareth became refugees during the 1948 Nakba and ended up in Lebanon, where she grew up and studied journalism at Beirut Arab University. She is an activist with national student campaigns including the International Campaign for the Preservation of Palestinian Identity. Palestinians in Lebanon have been living without and Lebanese ID and are still rejecting to give up their own until today. They dreamt to return to Palestine one day.

In 2017, Hiba was involved in a programme that collected stories and documented accomplishments of Palestinians in the diaspora. She loves photography and dreams of taking pictures of Palestine revealing the beauty of her homeland.

Farah Akef Hamouda was born in 1994 in the city of Tulkarem. She adored art at a young age and dreamt of becoming a famous artist. She earned her bachelor’s in art from the College of Arts at Al-Najah University and graduated in 2016.  Farah chose art to serve her country by preserving the Palestinian identity through art. She believes that art brings people together. She likes to teach children that art is the language of nations and the language of freedom.  One day she will become an international artist.

Rola Khalid Ghanem is a Palestinian novelist and lecturer who teaches literature.  She was born in the city of Tulkaram in the West Bank. Rola earned her bachelor’s degree in Arabic literature at Al-Najah University.  She is currently preparing her doctorate in Tanta University in Egypt.  Her influential stories containing many tales about life in Palestine during the uprising have won many competitions. She considers herself a rebellion novelist and an ambassador of Palestinian women in the Arab world.  Her desire is to use the power of her words to speak the truth and show that despite the tragic circumstances of the occupation, creativity and beauty is born from the womb of suffering.  She had two novels published which are “The Green Line” and “Feelings out of the Law.”

Rana Bishara is a Palestinian artist born in the Palestinian village of Tarshiha in the Upper Galilee.  She studied Fine Arts and graduated from New York University and is one of the most active Palestinian artists in occupied Palestine.  Rana organised many exhibitions locally and internationally and wants to draw more attention to the story of Palestine.  With her art, Rana is raising awareness about Palestine, its people and its history. Despite the occupation, Rana’s message has become stronger as art has the power to break many barriers.

Palestinian women with their contributions and accomplishments highlight the history of Palestinian resistance. Palestinian women are activists, martyrs, prisoners, teachers, writers, poets and artists.  They are moving history forward, echoing our lives and fighting for freedom.