First Published: 2012-05-12

 

A Palestinian's altruistic world and the archives of a personal nakba

 

Nammar's spiritual ethos recaptures, etches out his visions firmly throughout archives of his personal, family history, during, before, after the 1948 Nakba.

 

Middle East Online

Review by Leila Diab – United States

Book Review of Jacob J. Nammar’s ‘Born in Jerusalem, Born Palestinian’

Devoid of any endless visions or boundaries of self respect, self existence and freedom, albeit from within the corners of one's mind, a Palestinian's personal experience of disaster, tragedy or the Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948 then and now, is rather profoundly a spectral travesty of universal injustice.

This timely autobiographical story, Born in Jerusalem. Born a Palestinian, written by Jacob Nammar, a Palestinian Christian recounts his bittersweet yet, fervent family life memories and his despondent world of experiences as a youth. Nammar's spiritual ethos recaptures and etches out his visions firmly throughout the archives of his personal and family history, during, before and after the 1948 Nakba.

During Jacob's formative years of growing up in his beloved Palestinian homeland, Palestine, and the the city of Al-Quds, Jerusalem, his vivid mind is reminiscent of a city in which the Nammar family prospered and owned several tracts of valuable properties in Haret Al-Nasara (the Christian Quarter). It was in the city of Jerusalem where the Nammar family clan had good relationships with the Jewish people, even to the extent of contributing during the nineteenth century, two hundred Ottoman coins to help renovate a Jewish synagogue. Historically, Nammar, adds, “That was our relationship.”

However, as years of acceptance and mutual respect passed on, a total rein of terror eclipsed over Palestine during the Nakba of 1948. Unfortunately, gone were the days of a prosperous economy, social harmony, acceptance and a peaceful Palestinian society, which was replaced by an immoral

and decadent Israeli military government occupation of Palestine. A Palestinian steadfast life of self existence, survival and a cohesive family was now the norm.

Jacob, witnessed his own family's fear and trauma, as well as many prominent and well to do Palestinian families in Jerusalem as they were forced to leave their homes, had their property confiscated, and even having to emotionally endure male family members being tortured, imprisoned or taken away, just because they were peaceful Palestinians and no other reason. Jacob's father and brother were also the victims of these blatant Israeli military government's human rights violations.

According to Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it states, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor attacks upon his honour, and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the laws against such interference or attacks.” Needless to say, once the reader walks away after reading Jacob's story, I am sure they will ask why was this human tragedy not resolved now by world leaders, for the Nammar family and all Palestinians who have been denied their fundamental rights and the right to return to their homes.

One can assume that it is fate and destiny that will change the course on of one's life.

This holds true for Jacob's mom, who was born in Armenia and as a young child witnessed the massacre of her entire family under the Ottoman Turks and eventually ended up in Lebanon.

For Jacob, the experience of the Nakba and the constant violence for Palestinians living under an Israeli military occupation was now bellowing in his faith and belief that God was always with him. Thus began his daily visits to the YMCA in Jerusalem. It was at the YMCA that Jacob found his peace of mind and self-acceptance especially, while participating in many types of sports.. At the YMCA, he made many international friends who also excelled in swimming and basketball as he did. Ironically, Jacob was asked to join the Israeli basketball team and went on to become the only non Jewish player in the league. In fact, he was one of the most valued and most promising basketball players on the team.

However, much to Jacob's surprise, he was automatically dropped from the team. Jacob explains that since the team was funded by Jewish Americans, “They felt that is was unacceptable for a Palestinian to represent Israel in the upcoming Olympics. I felt betrayed and humiliated.”

After reading Chapter 10, 'You Do Not Belong Here”, the readers of this story should be able to deduce the implications and the effects of inhumane practices on any society, its religion, culture and politics.

Ironically, this is a story of Jacob 's altruistic world as foretold in the archives of his personal Nakba, of fate, destiny and karma ( dignity).

I would hope that everyone who reads Born In Jerusalem, Born Palestinian will acknowledge and commend Jacob's hopeful and profound belief that, “Jerusalem shaped my spirit, religion, heritage, identity and earthly consciousness.”

I personally believe, as a Palestinian, Jacob's story will eventually be recognized as a tribute and evocation of contemporary human beings who have suffered under ethic cleansing and in particular the Palestinian experience of separate and unequal laws of injustice and racism.

As a child born in Jerusalem and born in Palestine, the teachings of Jacob's parents hold true in

his heart today. “We are all God's children and spiritual descendents of the Prophet Abraham.”

Someday, if there is justice on Earth or in Heaven, there will be a right to return for thousands of exiled Palestinians like Jacob, and for those of us who have had our land, our history, our culture and our lives destroyed by the brutal occupation. And it is the hope of Jacob, that once again we will be at home in our Palestine.

Leila Diab is a Palestinian American freelance journalist.

 

Iran back to high enrichment 'in 5 days' if US quits nuclear deal

UN urges Iraq to do more for IS sex abuse victims

Taliban warns Afghanistan will become 'graveyard' for US

Two North Korean shipments to Syrian chemical weapons program intercepted

Algerian ‘bikini rebellion’ may be hype but harassment isn’t

Erdogan vows to prevent Kurdish ‘terror corridor’ in Syria

Iraqi troops recapture first two districts from IS bastion

UN says thousands fleeing Tel Afar amid anti-IS offensive

Second round of Kurdish referendum talks could happen next week

Dozens killed in coalition strikes as US-backed forces advance in Raqa

German foreign minister says Erdogan backers threatened his wife

Turkey arrests former national goalkeeper for ‘coup links’

Iran in negotiations to unblock Twitter

Yemeni FM says Iran 'part of the problem' in Yemen

On the trail of Spain's attackers

Mattis in Baghdad to support Iraqi forces

Erdogan critic stunned Turkey's 'long arm' reached Spain

Spanish police shoot dead man who could be Barcelona attacker

Iraqi forces close in on last IS bastion in country’s north

Kuwait arrests 13 fugitives in Iran-linked terror case

Qatar blocks planes from transporting pilgrims

Erdogan says joint op with Iran against Kurds ‘on the agenda’

Barcelona attack fugitive ‘dangerous, possibly armed’ warn police

Lebanese president ratifies public sector wage rise, tax hike

Young Syrian refugees want end of war and ISIS

Lebanon army advances against IS in border battle

Spanish police say driver of Barcelona rampage van identified

Toxic politics in Italy, Libya further complicate migration problem

Russia destroys large column of IS fighters in Syria

Assad says no Syria ties for countries backing rebels

In African tour, Sisi seeks to rebuild ties, address security and water concerns

In Egypt, Syrian refugees recreate Syria

Iraqi Kurds may postpone referendum in return for concessions

Dubai real estate market sets the pace for renewed growth in the GCC

German-Turkish intellectual held at Ankara’s request

Jordan’s municipal elections marred by deaths, riots

Rouhani says top priority is protecting nuclear deal from US

Russia doubts IS claim of stabbing attack in northern city

Turkey slams 'arrogant' German reaction to Erdogan poll call

Police confirm Finland 'terror attack'

Spain hunts suspects as IS claims attack

Aid project helps Syria refugees feel at home in Jordan

Lebanese army launches anti-IS offensive on Syria border

UN demands access to Yemen ports

Low-cost attacks a new reality for Europeans