“Let us work together to replace despair with HOPE, fear with human SECURITY and humiliation with DIGNITY”

Bedouins in Our Own Home

In our tradition, Bedouins are the people who follow green pastures, and their homes are linked to where the animal feed grows. They live in tents, exposed to the beautiful skies of Palestine, and mosquitoes are the only pestilence. Bedouins also represent our traditional values of hospitality, traditional music, and folk stories.

In our tradition, Bedouins are the people who follow green pastures, and their homes are linked to where the animal feed grows.  They live in tents, exposed to the beautiful skies of Palestine, and mosquitoes are the only pestilence.  Bedouins also represent our traditional values of hospitality, traditional music, and folk stories.

Yesterday my family and I, my three brothers, and all of our neighbors had to make the serious decision of whether or not to remain in our homes or evacuate.  The rumors were spreading quickly that the Presidential palace, which is near our homes, would soon be under fire from the Israeli military.  We left.  Unlike our Bedouin cousins, we left not to seek better pastures, but to seek refuge.  The skies yesterday were still beautifully lit with brilliant stars, but the “mosquitoes” were a bit bigger and definitely more hazardous.  A
deadly sting…!

Also unlike Bedouins, we could not be hospitable or welcoming (“Welcome to
the house of the potentially dead!”) . . . our music was the news reports . . . and our folk tale sounded like this:
“Once upon a time there was a family called (no names, please). They lived close to a big castle.  One night, as they were sleeping, a neighboring tribe invaded their home.  It wasn’t clear why the neighboring tribe invaded, since they already had better pastures, more animals, and more food.  Still, they invaded, and the castle was (stay tuned for news).”

I’m sure that seeing the devasted homes and hearing the casualty counts indicates something of the trauma of our lives, but for us, the impact is not measured by the degree of damage that occurs after the bombing.  Rather, we measure how we feel after staying up for five nights in row in anticipation of what will come next.  We have constant sound effects, the continued murmuring of approaching vehicles and sky high engines.  It is deafening.  We sit, as closely packed as possible, away from windows and closer to concrete walls, closer to an emergency exit — the “getaway bag” ready, the radio on, the mobile phone on, the light off, and Kameel’s milk bottle warm!!!  Our prayers have kept us safe another day!

Nadeem (4 years old) is now an expert in identifying the different sounds around … It’s
an Apache … no, no … it’s an F16.  Given the context, I suppose this is a natural vocabulary, but we pray that by God’s grace, he will soon have a new context.  And we talk with him about the colors of spring that are all around.

Now we are back home.  Home has an incredible scent of security despite the hazardous location.  Being back home is the only sign of hope we have now.  May we have a few days of rest here.

George Ghattas is the chairman of HCEF’s Holy Land Coordinating Committee.  He is the Head of Program Development for the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem, and he lives with his wife and two children in Bethlehem.  He has written the following four reflections in an attempt to describe his family’s perspective on the last several days of violence in Bethlehem. 


 

2016-10-24T07:34:44+00:00 March 11th, 2002|Categories: News|