HER STORY #24 - ILTIZAM

"Me in Bosnia. I love nature the most here." Photo taken by Iltizam.

"Me in Bosnia. I love nature the most here." Photo taken by Iltizam.

First Female Doctor

I have lived in Sarajevo for seven years, to study medicine. I got a scholarship to study there through our Ministry of Education. It was the cheaper option. It's so expensive to study in Palestine or in Amman.

Me being here is hard for my family. It's the first time that I'm out of the country. But they're happy that I'm doing, what I want. I communicate with them a lot. 

I visit Palestine every year or every second year. I'm not staying here for long. I'm just staying to finish my education. I would like to go back to Budrus. I only left for education. I want to come back as a doctor. 

Being a doctor is something that I have wanted to be, since I was a child. It's because of the situation in Palestine. I always see people getting hurt. The times when I participated in protests, I saw people getting hurt, and I wanted to help. 

My dream is to open a clinic in my village, because it's really important. The farther you are from Ramallah, the less opportunities you have for health care. I want to open a clinic to help people. 

I think I am the first female from my village, who went to study abroad. And I'm the first female to become a doctor. It sets an example for other young girls. They can go and get an education. Every time I go back, I see it in the eyes of young girls. A lot of them want to become doctors, and a lot of girls want to study abroad. They get excited, when they hear about my situation, and they tell me that they want to try something like that. 

In villages many believe that it's not right for women to go and study abroad. It was mostly like that before. Today it's a little bit different. You actually have more women than men, who study. Today more are open about women studying. 

My father always supported me. Since I was a child, he was my main support. 

Budrus

I'm from Budrus. It's a village west of Ramallah. 

Our village is on the Green Line. Since November 2003, when the Wall began to be built, we have protested in order to stop the building of it. I have protested from 2004 to 2006. 

I participated in my first protest at the age of 15, when they first started building the Apartheid Wall. It was a very new experience for me. It was the first time that I met soldiers that close. I had met them in prison, because my father was in prison, and I had met them at checkpoints, but it was the first time, it was this close. 

It was the first time I encountered tear gas, rubber bullets and them shooting at people. It was really unpleasant, and it was the first time that I felt that my life was directly at threat. It was the first time I had to really defend something that was mine. They came to take something that is mine. 

After so many protests they actually changed the road, of where the Wall was to be built, so it was built behind the Green Line. We got to save some of our land, but not all of it. You can say that it's a success, but there is still a wall. There are still protests. 

And it's still not safe. 

Last year they killed a young Palestinian man next to the wall. The wall is so near the school in Budrus, so there are always clashes. 

When you're born under occupation, you always have to think about it. Even as a child, when I knew that I wanted to be a doctor, I would think about my father being in prison, and then I would feel bad for thinking about something so big. Growing up without my father was something I always thought about. 

Budrus is 30 kilometers from Ramallah. Our hospital is in the center of Ramallah, so every time someone gets sick, you have to take them there, but that is difficult under the occupation because of the difficulties in getting there. There are checkpoints, and they change depending on circumstances. 

The worst was during the Second Intifada. Budrus and the villages around it are close to the wall, so there are many protests, and every time there is a protest, the military will turn the whole area into a closed military area. 

Sometimes my school would close down, and I wouldn't go to school for a couple of days. 

My Duty

Not only do I want to be a doctor. I also want to be a human rights defender. I want to work for human rights and women's rights in Palestine, because I think it's my duty. It's everyone's duty. When you have the chance to make a better future for other people, I think it's your duty to do it. 

As a teenager I was an activist. I was part of so many human rights projects, including a woman's organization. One of the projects that I participated in would help women get a chance to work by, for example, creating a sewing machine project that would help women to sew, so they in the future could generate an income for their family. 

I took part in many projects, and it made me realize, how a lot can be achieved, even if there are less people with advanced education, and even if the economy is not as good as the one in the city. 

I see things have improved, especially as more women have a higher education. 

Israeli Friends

I have Israeli friends, but they are the ones I have met at the protests, in my village. 

For me it was strange, because I'd only met Israelis as soldiers, so it was weird for me to meet Israelis, who support Palestinians' rights. Before an "Israeli" for me meant an Israeli soldier. They were all occupiers, all soldiers. It was a very natural conclusion to have, because the only ones I had met were soldiers. 

I wasn't angry at them, because we don't hate them because of the fact that they are Israelis. We only hate the occupation, and as long as you support my right to exist - my right to be free - why not be friends? We welcome them. 

I still meet the people from the protests every time that I go home. They come to visit, and they are very disappointed by how things are in Israel. 

Actually, to tell you the truth, I now have a very confused image of Israelis. I grew up with an image of Israelis as soldiers. Then I met these Israelis at the protests, who gave me a positive image of Israelis. But during the war in Gaza in 2014 I read that 80% of Israelis supported the attack on Gaza. It showed that the majority of the people there support occupation and the killing of other Palestinians. 

Israelis have a privilege. They can get more information. They can come and see the Palestinians' situation. 

I've never been to Israel, not even once, so how could I put myself into their minds? It's not something that I choose. It's because of something that they built. The only Israelis that I have met are the ones at the protests. 

I think that they have the privilege to go and see the daily lives of Palestinians and to see, how the occupation makes it more difficult for us. 

The hate is not something that we built. It's something we have to go through - seeing Israeli soldiers. 

But if I had the chance, I wouldn't really like to go to Israel. I wouldn't go inside for so many reasons. I think the best solution would be for them to come, because I'm not really ready to see the other side. 

Some of the friends that I have met in Bosnia, who traveled to Israel and Palestine told me, how they went to the beaches in Israel and then saw a completely different situation in Palestine. I don't think I'm ready to see the privileges of the lives that Israelis are living. I think it would make me angrier. 

As an Israeli, you can't say that you support the government and the occupation and not see, what it does. It's perhaps easy to support it, if you live in a nice place. 

Go to Palestine and see how Palestinians live. See how this barrier is built, and how it is to live on the other side. 

Settlers

The situation is really complicated. Right now we are working towards a two-state solution, but even the two-state solution seems impossible because of Netanyahu. 

I think the first step should still be the two-state solution without settlements and occupation, and what should happen afterwards, in the future, is up for the next generation to decide. 

There are nine villages west of Ramallah, who are affected by the Israeli wall. The village next to us is called Nilin, and they have problems with settlements, because they are close to them. On the way from Budrus to Ramallah there are also settlements.

I've never met settlers personally. I wouldn't want to meet them. I don't think I would talk to someone, who has actually taken our land. To simply talk won't help. As long as we're not equal, I don't think we should have a dialogue.

Any contact with settlers and dialogue with them is not welcome.

When it comes to human rights, I don't support that religion should interfere with any of that. To use your religion like that is selfish. You cannot just take the rights of other people in the name of religion. It's 2016. People have different religions and Gods. You cannot use other people for that. I respect whatever you want to believe in, but we have human rights to be the judge - not religion. 

Go There And See It

Everything that is happening nowadays is getting worse. I'm a very positive person, and I know that there will be something really great. I don't know when though. I hope it will be in my lifetime, but I don't think it will be. I will work for it being in my lifetime however. 

The best way for people to know about the situation is just to go there and see it - just the way it is. 

I know of American Jews, who came to Palestine. They told me that they were shocked the first time they saw how Palestinians live. They don't get this information in the United States. 

I think today it is easier to get this information however - because of social media. There is no need to watch BBC or CNN. People can get this information via Facebook. The more information you get, the closer you get to reality.  

"With mom in my village Budrus." Photo taken by Iltizam.

"With mom in my village Budrus." Photo taken by Iltizam.