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.


Iran faces ‘strongest sanctions in history’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Updated 22 May 2018
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Iran faces ‘strongest sanctions in history’

  • US Secretary of State laid out Trump administration’s strategy for constraining Iran’s nuclear program
  • US threatens "strongest sanctions in history" if Iranian government does not change course

WASHINGTON: The US told Iran on Monday to drop its nuclear ambitions and pull out of the Syrian civil war in a list of demands that marked a new hard-line against Tehran and prompted an Iranian official to warn that Washington seeks regime change.

Weeks after US President Donald Trump pulled out of an international nuclear deal with Iran, his administration threatened to impose “the strongest sanctions in history,” setting Washington and Tehran on a deeper course of confrontation.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded sweeping changes that would force Iran effectively to reverse years of its foreign policies.

“The sting of sanctions will only grow more painful if the regime does not change course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen for itself and the people of Iran,” Pompeo said in his first major speech since becoming secretary of state.

“These will be the strongest sanctions in history by the time we are done,” he added.

Pompeo took aim at Iran’s policy of expanding its influence in the Middle East through support for proxy armed groups in countries such as Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

He warned that the US would “crush” Iranian operatives and allies abroad and told Tehran to pull out forces under its command from the Syrian civil war where they back President Bashar Assad.

Iran is unlikely to accede to the US demands. Tension between the two countries has grown notably since Trump this month withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement aimed at preventing Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Pompeo warned that if Iran fully resumed its nuclear program Washington would be ready to respond and said the administration would hold companies doing prohibited business in Iran to account.

“Our demands on Iran are not unreasonable: Give up your program,” Pompeo said, “Should they choose to go back, should they begin to enrich, we are fully prepared to respond to that as well,” he said, declining to elaborate.

Pompeo said if Iran made major changes, the US was prepared to ease sanctions, re-establish full diplomatic and commercial relations and support the country’s re-integration into the international economic system.

The speech did not explicitly call for regime change but Pompeo repeatedly urged the Iranian people not to put up with their leaders, specifically naming President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“At the end of the day the Iranian people will get to make a choice about their leadership. If they make the decision quickly, that would be wonderful, if they choose not to do so we will stay hard at this until we achieve the outcomes I set forward,” said Pompeo.