HER STORY #57 - anonymous
I immigrated to Israel at the age of 12 with my parents and my two older brothers. My parents are from Poland. They survived the Holocaust in Russia, as they had fled Poland at the very beginning of the war [Second World War].
[When they fled] they were a young couple with a son who was a year and a half old. They began understanding what was happening when the Germans entered Poland, including their town, and they decided that it was too dangerous for them to stay.
They tried to convince their families to flee as well, but no one took them seriously. They thought, “Okay, it’s a war,” and for some it wasn’t easy to take the whole family and flee, especially with small children. And their parents [interviewee’s parents] were in their 50s, and they thought that nobody would touch elderly people, even during wartime.
They were there [in Russia] for six years, and life there wasn’t easy, but it was okay. They came back to Poland when the war ended, and they heard what had happened, including about the existence of concentration camps. They hadn’t known about it because it wasn’t something that was written about in the newspapers. They knew that there had been a war that had lasted for six years and that it hadn’t been nice. My father had also been recruited to the Polish army.
When they came back to Poland, they met with all kinds of survivors. Some of them were like them – people who had been in Russia and in other places, and another part were survivors of the concentration camps. And of course they began searching for family members.
They quickly learned that the families on both sides of my parents had been killed in Auschwitz – very big families on both sides with a lot of children and grandchildren. And they also heard that my mother had a sister living in Paris, who had been in Auschwitz. She knew what had happened to the whole family, and when she got out, the first thing she wanted to do was to get away from there, and she went to Paris.
House / Photo Album
[After the war] My father went to the house where they had lived, before they left [to Russia], and he of course heard that all the houses that Jews had left were inhabited by Polish people. He didn’t mean to do anything about it, but it was very important for him to get a photo album.
For six years he had been walking around with one picture of his younger sister that I now have. That’s all he was able to take with him. They couldn’t take anything when they fled, because they were taken away in boats. [At the time] it wasn’t really legal to flee to Russia, but there were people who made a business out of it. They took people into apartments, and every time a boat was available, Jews would be taken to Russia – like what is happening to the refugees now in Syria.
So he knocked on the door and explained that he had lived there before and that he just wanted to know if there were pictures or a photo album, a sort of token for him. The Polish person, who lived there said, “Get away from here” and threatened him with a gun. He said that he didn’t want to see him again. The gun was very convincing, and then he [father] didn’t approach this town ever again.
Meaning of Wars
In the meantime, all the refugees that came from Russia and from concentration camps, and all other Poles as well, were permitted to live in some towns that they [Russia] had taken from the Germans. Russia had taken territories from Poland and in return they gave them [the Poles] territories from Germany. So they told the Germans that had lived there to get away, to evacuate. They had nice apartments.
When I was a little girl, my mother told me, “This is the meaning of war: We left our houses and fled to Russia. We came back and someone else lived there. And they place us in the houses of those that we threw out.”
She showed me a goblin that a German woman had made – that she [German woman] had left in the house [from the Germans living there previously].
She [mother] said, “We came into someone else’s house, with their cutlery.” She really thought that it wasn’t fair. Although she had unfinished business with the Germans, she felt that all that was happening wasn’t good for anyone.
What I remember as a girl is that nobody had grandparents. The children of my generation were all part of nuclear families with a father, mother, and one or two children, and most of the time even without a father – because people didn’t survive the Holocaust.
Nobody had grandparents, and I constantly felt that I was missing something, because my mother had told me that until the age of three and a half, my brother had been a prince to my grandmother and grandfather. They had spoiled him and loved him and bought him a bicycle and nice toys and nice clothes, and I felt that I didn’t have an idea of what a grandfather and a grandmother do – in terms of what their roles are.
We were a very little family with two brothers, my parents, and me.
We couldn’t get out of Poland, and when they finally let some people out, it happened gradually and slowly.
As a girl in Poland, I went to a Jewish school, but on the way to school I passed another school, and they saw the children going to the Jewish school and would make many anti-Semitic comments – also after the war. And I experienced all kinds of incidents that were anti-Semitic.
Our non-Jewish neighbors were okay, because we had developed personal relations with them, but there was still a feeling of antisemitism. There are many stories, but I don’t want to get into all of them.
For example, one of our neighbors’ nephews, who lived in another village, came to play with the children in our village, and he had a song that he would sing about Jews, an anti-Semitic song. I was shocked by this.
One day I was jumping rope, perhaps at the age of seven, and a non-Jewish Polish man told me, “Great job Sarah'le.” So I told him, “I’m not Sarah’le.” He said: “Yes, your name is Sarah.” So I went home and told my mother. She told me that from my physical appearance, he had noticed that I was Jewish, and during the war every Jewish woman had been referred to as “Sarah.”
Every Jew had been given an ID during the war, and if you were a Jewish woman and your name, for example, was Chaya, the document would say: “Sarah Chaya” with the last name. The Jewish men had another name added, perhaps Avraham.
One of the surviving aunts [in interviewee’s family] had a document from my grandfather and grandmother and there it indeed said “Sarah”.
So he called me Sarah. But I had been very proud of myself for jumping rope, and I had thought that he had given me a compliment.
Another incident was when I played with my friends in our garden. We had a big garden, and I found a big white, smooth piece of soap. I don’t think it was wrapped in anything. I took it home and showed it to my mother. She looked at it and said, “Here it says that the soap is made of Jewish fat.”
I don’t want to create a sense of being a victim when I talk about the Holocaust. This is just my background and it has affected the way I behave today and how I relate to life.
My parents also didn’t feel like they were victims. I really felt that my parents’ message was hope, looking forward. They said, “Look, we survived in Russia. They survived in concentration camps. There is nothing to compare.” It’s not possible to compare. Although it was difficult for us, nobody tortured us in Russia, unlike those who, like my aunt, had been to Auschwitz.
I felt anger, and I felt that it wasn’t fair, and that I wanted to be in Israel. My parents had explained that it [Israel] was a country for Jews. Here [in Poland] we were a minority, and antisemitism would probably always be a part of our lives. We didn’t think much of it. It was reality. Jews lived in Jewish communities and that was that, but the Holocaust had really been very severe.
I remember myself having a philosophical discussion with a friend around the age of 10. We talked about Israel and this country [Poland], and he told me, “We are Polish citizens but are descendants of Moses [prophet in Abrahamic religions], and I told him, “I am Jewish and I want to live in Israel.”
I remember that there was a season with flowers that had an incredible smell. They were purple and white. You don’t have these kinds of flowers in Israel.
I was in Germany and I saw those flowers and I couldn’t help myself and had to pick one. I knew that I wasn’t supposed to do that, but I took one flower to smell it, and I told myself, “In Israel I won’t pick flowers. I will be good.” Here I could let myself pick flowers, but in Israel I would be good.
My parents only wanted to go to Israel [after the war].
They had heard that some of the neighbors of those who had remained in Poland were anti-Semitic, and they had had enough. They wanted to flee to Israel, but for many years people couldn’t get permission to leave Poland.
At the very beginning, after the war had ended, there was a short time where people managed to flee the country. Some would go to the US, some to Israel. Poland had a Communist regime, and the borders had been closed. It wasn’t possible to leave, so they [parents] always said, “Okay, we’ll wait until they let the Jews get out of Poland.” So in my home we had this kind of dream and hope of moving to Israel one day.
We had an uncle in Tel Aviv, and he would send us boxes of oranges, which was something special, as it had come from Eretz Israel [the “Land of Israel”]. It was a celebration, and I had all sorts of dreams of what it would be like there.
We immigrated to Israel in 1958, and it was indeed fun. In the middle of December, it was minus 20 degrees [Celsius] in Poland, and in Israel it was warm, and I was wearing a shirt without sleeves, and sandals. There was sun, and it was paradise.
I learned the language quickly, and my family and I felt like it was our home. We felt like we belonged.
I can say that my life in Israel was good, and I felt that my parents were very happy, as they were building a family.
My older brother got married and had a daughter. My parents had become grandparents, which was what I had lost, but they were happy about their son’s daughter, and then they got another grandchild.
Then my second brother got married and had children.
The moment we came to Israel, I behaved the way I had promised to myself, and I had many good friends. There were no bad people, and everyone was nice, but it was scary. I had known that before we came to Israel.
There were Arabs that didn’t want us living here. Sometimes there were terrorist attacks and scary incidents. For example, someone we knew (also an immigrant) who worked in the fields on a tractor got killed by two people from Gaza. It was horrible, but that was one part of the things happening here. We took that into consideration, and I knew that there was nothing to do about it.
We also had friends who lived on a kibbutz next to Syria, and there were shootings on the kibbutz [from Syria] all the time. For months, the children there would be in the shelters, eating, playing, and sleeping there.
After a while, I became a student in Jerusalem at the university. I studied Literature, the Hebrew language, and Sociology. Literature and the Hebrew language were really my majors. I wanted to be the best in Hebrew and to know the language at a high level.
When I studied in Jerusalem, there was a wall in the middle of the city, and sometimes a Jordanian sniper would shoot someone.
I remember a specific incident as well. A woman was walking within a specific district. I don’t recall which street. She was shot.
I really liked Jerusalem and the studies. It was excellent, but there were areas [in Jerusalem] where I was scared to walk because of the incidents. It was scary and tense but a part of life.
My two older brothers served in the army of course, one after another – both in combat units, because they both were athletic and healthy. My parents were very anxious about them being in the army.
After my brothers, I also served in the army. We didn’t even consider the option of avoiding the army, as we felt like we needed to keep our homes safe, and my army service was very meaningful to me for many reasons.
One of the reasons for that was that suddenly I understood what happens to the soldiers and what the army is like. For example, how come when one of my brothers came home from the army on a Friday to shower and to rest, he would only wake up on Motza'ei Shabbat [refers to the time in the evening immediately following Shabbat]? He was a very good looking boy with lots of friends. Why was he so tired?
It also helped me in terms of being a mother to children who served in the army.
It has always bothered me when foreigners comment on how Israel is such a militaristic a country, when they say, “Everyone is serving in the army. Everyone has a weapon and is walking around with it.” I always thought, “Why are you saying militaristic? It’s a place that needs an army. There is nothing to do about it. How can we live here without defending ourselves?
The first big war that I experienced [while in Israel] was the Six-Day War, and it was scary, really scary, because we felt that we were fighting against everyone surrounding us. My parents’ generation had lived with this existential fear following the Holocaust.
I was a student at the time, and the army took in a lot of students and professors from universities. There were no students at the university. I went and asked if they needed me. I wanted to serve. They said no, but they told me that there was a lot of work at the post office, as so many letters were sent from parents to soldiers and vice versa. So I decided to volunteer there and sort the post.
My two brothers served in the army during the war. They were both married at the time and both of them had two children. We were very worried about them. I also had a boyfriend who was serving.
We had a shelter, and for six days we spent time in the shelter. We listened to the news all the time.
At some point the Israelis said that they had taken over Jerusalem. I was supposed to be happy, and everyone around me sounded happy, but I was thinking, “I guess it’s a good thing, but at whose expense? Who are the people, who will pay for Jerusalem and the Wailing Wall [Western Wall in Jerusalem],” which it was called in Polish, having been taken over by us?”
I had lived well without this wall until now, and I didn’t want to lose any soldier for us to win it.
[After the war] we were all eager to find out who had survived. Little by little we heard about people who had died, such as my good friend’s husband, with whom I had been friends since high school. She already had a three-year old daughter. Many of the people I had studied with in high school were killed.
Lucky for me, both of my brothers came back, as well as my boyfriend, although I got married to someone else.
I married a man, who had immigrated to Israel from the U.S.
He would go on a road trip with his friends every summer, once in Europe, once in the U.S., and on one of his trips they came to Israel. He went to Yad Vashem [Israel's official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust], and this experience was very meaningful to him. He had a big family, and his family hadn’t been killed in the Holocaust because all of them were in the U.S. and some in Canada, but somehow the trip did something to him, so he went back to the U.S., learned some Hebrew and immigrated to Israel.
His parents hoped that it would pass, that he would move to Israel and then back. He came to Israel. His Hebrew wasn’t good enough, so he learned more in Ulpan [school for the intensive study of Hebrew]. Then we met, and we eventually decided to get married. This was bad news for his family, because they realized that he would be staying.
He wasn’t sorry about this. We’ve been married for a long time – 45 years, in happiness. I’m very happy that it happened.
He also served in the army but for a shorter time, and we spent some time here [in Israel] after we got married, and then had a daughter.
He had a bachelor’s degree, and after the army he wanted to continue with his studies, but he realized that he couldn’t because his Hebrew wasn’t good enough. So because of that, and for other reasons, we moved to the U.S.
We had been in the U.S. for three months, when we heard about another war in Israel, in 1973, the Yom Kippur war.
The news we got in the beginning was fake news, like those we have nowadays. There were all kinds of Arab TV stations in English that said, “We are in Tel Aviv now.” We didn’t know exactly what was happening.
For me it was very, very hard. When I had been in Israel during the Six Days War, I knew what was happening to my family, but now I didn’t know. My parents were there with my brothers and their children, and my brothers were serving in the army, of course. I had all sorts of nightmares. I imagined them not having any food and being in danger.
It was also difficult to get in touch with them, because all the phone lines were busy. People outside of Israel were calling people in Israel, but when I got a hold of my family, they would comfort me, “Don’t be scared. We are okay. It’s not okay what they say in the news. They didn’t take over Tel Aviv.”
It was very difficult from afar. I have a son now who is doing a doctorate in the U.S., and when there was a war here, he was very worried in terms of what was happening to us, especially when hearing that there were grad rockets.
And the family is very important for me. I don’t know if it’s because we used to be a very small family, and all the others were killed [in the Holocaust], and suddenly we built this family, like a tribe. Today we are 30 people, and it feels like a big family, and everyone is unique and there is value to this. We have very good, close, and strong relations.
Make Things Right
Life, in general, is good [in Israel] with a lot of meaning and interesting studies.
After my first degree I did a Masters in Educational Consultancy. After this, I worked in a school, and then I went on to do a PhD in psychology. Today I work in a meaningful, interesting, and challenging job, and my success at work is something that goes beyond my personal success. It’s something patriotic.
But, I feel that all the time, there is a break and then a war, and I have a lot of criticism in terms of what happens here. I have a home, and I feel like my role is to make things right.
I don’t like the extremism, the racism, as well as the focus on religion. A lot of things are not the way I would want them to be, but it has also changed lately.
I never thought of leaving however, although I’m an American citizen, married to an American and have lived in the U.S. a couple of years because of his studies. I have an American passport. I have three children, two daughters and one son, who also are American citizens, because we lived there for a couple of years. Their English is great.
But I want to make things right. I have all sorts of thoughts about the situation, not only thoughts. I participate in all sorts of things, but I don’t demonstrate.
I have a good friend who goes to a different demonstration every day. She asks me to join her, but it’s not my way. I just don’t like it. I do things in my daily life that are very meaningful. That’s how I think.
During the Second Intifada, I would say that I found myself in two parallel worlds. During that time buses exploded every day in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and everywhere.
My daughter was doing her Masters in Jerusalem at the time. She lived in Mount Scopus, and her studies took place in Givat Ram. She had to take a bus to get from where she lived to the university, and to go on a bus was very dangerous. Although it was a university bus, it was still a bus driving through the city.
Buses would explode and you could get injured, and I was so worried that I’d call her every evening to check if she had arrived to her dorm room. I didn’t want to be annoying, so I would call her to ask her random questions, such as, “Did you buy something?” I would make up questions to talk to her for two minutes, because I didn’t expect her to report her location to me.
I just couldn’t sleep at night if I didn’t know that she had arrived to her room safely. I would talk to her twice a day. My nightmare was an exploding bus in Jerusalem.
One day she called me in the morning, and she said that something terrible had happened. The mother of a student that was doing the same master’s degree as her, a very nice and intelligent boy, had called the university to check, if he had come to classes. They asked at the front desk, if he had arrived to the university, but he hadn’t.
The mother had called, because she heard that one of the buses of the bus line he usually took, had exploded.
After my daughter heard about the exploding bus she called me out of stress, and for me it was terrible. I identified with the mother and it was very hard.
At the same time, I was working with a group of Palestinians from Jerusalem, Hebron, and elsewhere, and Israelis, who were working together on a project to write a book based on shared history.
It was during the time that I was doing my doctorate that my PhD counselor had invited me to participate in this project, as it was the field that I was doing research. He had requested me to be the observer and a mediator.
I participated in all the meetings. They met once a week in a hotel in Jerusalem, and they worked together to write this history book. I didn’t miss one meeting.
Once a year we spent one week outside of Israel to work intensively, far away from the Intifada and everything that was happening here. It was a difficult, interesting, and an important project. I learned a lot about the conflict from it. I wrote essays about it as well. I learned a couple of important things, and it was very important for me to hear their [Palestinians] narratives.
The history book itself would begin in 1917, and it was based on two narratives.
For example, according to the Palestinians, the Jews don’t have anything to do here. They don’t have any right to live because the British had brought them as colonialists. They took over this place. They didn’t deserve it. They didn’t have a connection. They conquered this place, and they have to go. For example, in one of the pages of the history book, they referred to Kiryat Shmona as a settlement.
I didn’t say a lot. My role was to watch and to write and to analyze. There were only a few times that I would get involved, but they already had two historians that were helping them to check that the included texts were factual.
When the Jews heard about Kiryat Shmona being referred to as a settlement, they asked, if they meant a settlement such as Kiryat Arba [urban Israeli settlement on the outskirts of Hebron]. No, the Palestinians responded, they were referring to Kiryat Shmona. For them, every community built in Palestine was a settlement.
It was difficult to hear it, but on the other hand that was the whole point. The mission was to listen to the narrative of the other side, covering 100 years of history. For me, it was interesting as someone who wanted to understand the conflict, where it all started, and what happened to the people. The group worked together for seven years.
When they wrote the texts, they had to negotiate in which ways they would write. The contract was to show the narratives in ways that could contribute to the recognition of the other side, how the other side sees the situation and how every date is seen from the other side with the use of peaceful terminology. So the point was to find out how to interpret those things without changing anything. So when, for example, they referred to a Jewish community as a settlement, it had to be left like that. We [Jewish participants] use the term “settlement” for territories taken over by Israel after 1967 [Six Days War] on the other hand.
In the beginning it was very difficult, but things changed. All of the participants were history teachers, and in one of the meetings, for example, one of the Palestinian women said, “You educate your children to kill Palestinians,” and then an Israeli teacher said, “No, I really don’t teach my children that,” and since the Israeli teacher was so trustworthy, they [Palestinian teachers] believed her. Everyone wanted to raise their children to live in peace, but we are taught the opposite about the other side.
With time the ways of thinking of the other side changed, and I really believe that one of the things that is needed in this conflict is to have people meet, to do something together – not to talk about politics necessarily but to have a mission, such as writing a book together. People [in the group] became very good friends.
Another thing that I felt helped a lot, in terms of these meetings, was that with every step taken it was eventually understood that the other side is here and won’t leave.
For example, the Palestinians tried to explain to the Jews, “You are settlers. You conquered a land that is not yours. You are talking about a Biblical connection to the land, which is a myth, as it happened thousands of years ago. For so many years you haven’t been here, and you came to a place, where people lived, and we deserve it. You should return to where you came from.”
I told them my story and about how I can’t go back [to Poland]. It was interesting for them. They never thought about it in this way. Perhaps they had previously thought that if your family came from Poland, then you could just go back to Poland.
Some Israelis were born here, some of us not, but we came, and the parents came in order for us to be in our country, and we are here, and we deserve it and no one [Jewish] thinks of leaving. I really think that this is a place that I deserve to be in.
On the other hand, the Jews in the group also had some kind of fantasy and would ask the Palestinians, “What is your problem? Jordan and Egypt are beautiful countries [to go to],” but the Jews thought like this less.
It was interesting to see that there wasn’t a complete symmetry between both sides. The Jews were more empathetic vis-à-vis the Palestinians than the Palestinians were vis-à-vis the Jews.
For example, the Palestinians said that, while they were having these meetings, there were so many curfews [because of the Intifada], usually during specific hours, but sometimes also for one or two days, so it was difficult for them. On the Jewish side there was silence. Nobody said anything, because they felt like they represented the bad side, and that we were the ones doing these things, so they didn’t dare say anything.
When they became completely quiet, I said that I had to tell them how worried I was about my daughter who was in Jerusalem, and about all the exploding buses.
We also had separate meetings, where the Jews would meet on their own and the Palestinians on their own, just to be able to talk between themselves. And the Jews complained about the lack of symmetry in terms of how if they said something about their suffering caused by terrorism, they [Palestinians] wouldn’t express a form of identification with their situation. To this, one of the leading psychologists said that it was natural, since they were fighting for the establishment of their country, and they were living under occupation. We [Israelis] were allowed to travel around in our own country [unlike the Palestinians] and it was easier for us to be empathetic in this sense.
One of the Palestinians said something like, “I feel like a person with a split personality, because I’m here with you, talking, and we are conducting professional and personal dialogues. It’s nice here with you, but when I go home I’m stopped by Israeli soldiers on my way, and I go into another world. It’s not the same. I really live in two worlds.”
I also lived in two worlds. My friends knew that I was taking part in this project, and so they would ask me, “What did they say about the terror attack on Seder [Passover Seder] where people got killed? Did they condemn it? Why do you think you can work with them? Don’t you feel that it’s waste of time?”
I didn’t feel that it was a waste of time. I was able to get into their shoes, and it was important for me. For others they could only view the Palestinians as either condemning or supporting the terror.
In the group there were people of all ages, and in terms of the occupation, and the younger Israelis thought that getting out of the territories [Gaza and West Bank] and to stop the occupation would solve the problem.
The older participants, including myself, said that they knew that it [conflict] didn’t start with the occupation. I do think that there needs to be a separation with two countries (one for them and one for us), and the occupation is not legitimate at all, but it didn’t begin there.
To refer to Kiryat Shmona, for example, as a settlement is okay, because the book is very important in terms of how the conflict is understood, but I have another story. I understand that they [Palestinian participants] thought like this, but I was always taught that Jews always have lived here. For example, my mother had an aunt that immigrated to Israel around 1900.
I also teach archeology and history, and I know that there were Jews here, generations of Jews, and the Hebrew language is not a language that was born in Poland. Jews are mentioned in ancient literature. There were sayings about Eretz Israel [land of Israel] for many years and it was referred to as a place for Jews. There was a connection to this place, and I’m sorry that there are wars between two peoples, and I hope that it will be possible to solve this situation.
Things like this have happened in the world many times. There have been many times where populations have changed, languages change, power changes, and wars, but at the end there were peace processes, and I really think it’s possible to get there.
I don’t feel guilty, and I think that the Palestinians deserve a country. I think that the Palestinians in Israel (who once were called Israeli-Arabs and now prefer to be called Palestinians) deserve equal rights, and those that have been evacuated from their homes should be treated more humanely.
30 Families and 40 Sheep
I feel that in order for there to be some sort of peace here, to move things forward women need to be empowered. I really believe in women. Women are more concerned about their families and about doing the best for their children. They think less about clout.
Once I did research on meetings between Bedouin and Jewish students, and there were always these political discussions. The Bedouins would say, “They’re transferring us from place to place. They’re evacuating us from the places where we lived,” and they would talk a lot about discrimination, racism, and not being treated equally.
A Bedouin man talked about an incident from 1952 in the following way, “My tribe lived next to Beersheba, and then the country chose that we needed to be uprooted from there. They wanted to transfer us to Jordan.” The families of this particular tribe was brought to the border with Jordan.
When this particular man described the event he referred to it as such, “We had 30 families and 40 sheep” and he would talk about all these numbers. They Jews weren’t that impressed. They said, “Well, they didn’t kill you, so? It’s okay then.”
The same story was described in another way by a woman, “They took our tribe and took us to the border with Jordan. My father was a small boy, and he saw how they took all the men and placed them next to the border. There were Jewish soldiers, and my father’s mother began begging the Israeli soldiers to not kill her husband.”
She was telling a real story with feelings, about how the boy was worried about his father, and how scared he was, and how the mother was begging for them not to be killed.
Everyone sat and really listened. The way she had told the story created empathy, and suddenly you could feel that it wasn’t really okay, and it was the exact same story told by the man previously, but she [woman] turned it into a human story.
Women talk differently.
I really believe in women’s power, in their ability to have a dialogue, to share their feelings, and when women talk about war, about struggles, they talk about their worries, their children, and how it’s not okay and not just.
I really believe in women, and therefore, in the process of all of my work, I make sure I do everything in my power for every Bedouin female student (I have many Bedouin students) to study and to pass, even if she doesn’t’ know Hebrew well enough, so that she can learn.
Once when teaching a psychology class, I showed a film about adulthood ceremonies, and I had an excellent film about those ceremonies for the indigenous community in South America.
In the middle of the film, I suddenly saw a Bedouin girl leave the class, crying. I went after her and asked her why she was crying. She said, “Look, in this class there are also [Bedouin] boys, and if my father hears that I saw such a film, where there are girls almost without clothes, with boys swimming in a river, the [Bedouin] boys will tell my father, and he won’t let me study.”
She was crying. She really wanted to study. I told her that I didn’t know and was happy that she had told me. I promised her that it would never happen again, and that I wouldn’t show films with nakedness again. I also added, “I am really sorry and perhaps tell these boys not to tell your father, because I promise it won’t happen again.”
Since then I requested for certain parts of the film to be removed, if I had to show it to the students. I don’t want a young woman to stop learning.
I really believe in educated women, whether they are Jewish or Arab.
Educated women raise different kinds of families. An educated woman has a different perspective on wars and peace. An educated Bedouin woman has strength when confronted with polygamy.
There are polygamist [Bedouin] families, and it’s a catastrophe for the children and for the whole society. When a young woman studies, she has more self-confidence and more strength to stand up against her husband and request him not to take in another woman, or to not be okay with being the second woman.
I really believe in women’s empowerment in terms of who can contribute to peace on both sides, because I also think that fundamentalism and racism is related to lower levels of education.
Of course there are educated racists, but I think that it’s easier to brainwash people who aren’t that educated.
Interview conducted on April 16, 2017