From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Huda's Dream: A Palestinian Woman's Vision of 'The Other'
"Frank Imhoff" <FRANKI@elca.org>
Wed, 27 Jun 2001 11:03:05 -0500
Children Exposed to Great Pressure Doubt Peace Will Happen
GENEVA, 27 June 2001 (LWI) - Huda Abu Gharbieh suffers with her children
over one contradiction-the reality in which they live and the ideals she
advocates. Gharbieh speaks with them about peace, truth and justice, but
they say they are no longer ready to believe whatever she tells them.
"Our children do not have a normal childhood," says the Palestinian mother
of four. They are growing up under enormous pressure, "the intifada has
turned them into different people," Gharbieh said during an interview with
Lutheran World Information (LWI) in Geneva.
Notwithstanding the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Gharbieh says her
dream is not shattered-to live with her children in her own country, proud
to be a Palestinian, with Israeli neighbors. But the road to that reality is
long, she admits. With tears in her eyes, she tells of her neighbor's child,
shot dead by an Israeli settler, and ponders the seemingly never-ending
grief and anger around her as the spiral of violence goes on.
But Gharbieh is equally outraged by the attacks and massacres carried out by
Palestinians. Peace with justice must be created in schools, in youth
groups, and with the help of women's groups, she says. In her own family she
experiences various obstacles on the stony path to peace. Her 18-year-old
son would like to study computer programming, but the road from Ramallah to
Jerusalem is blocked. He would not even be able to go to the university
every day, and living in Jerusalem would be too expensive. She recalls her
last visit there, the normal 15-minute trip ended up being a three-hour
Gharbieh, a Muslim, proudly explains the meaning of her children's names.
Her eldest son is named Ivar, which means "He who takes care of others more
than himself," a befitting description of his mother's job at the Augusta
Victoria Hospital (AVH) in Jerusalem, where she is director of the technical
and housekeeping department. The AVH is run by the Lutheran World Federation
(LWF) through its Department for World Service.
Gharbieh would like to understand the other side of the story, so she seeks
out contacts with Israelis, with other mothers like herself. She wants to
work for peace in practical ways. She wants "to tell her story to the other"
and "also to listen to the other," to foster better understanding. Her faith
helps her to see other human beings as God created them. And she knows that
peace is only possible when the fundamental questions have been resolved,
including the right to landownership. "The settlers must leave our land,"
she insists, "otherwise peace cannot come."
Then she tells the almost unbelievable story of the 30-year-old Palestinian
Mazan Julani, who was shot by a Jewish settler. Julani's parents donated his
body organs to be used as transplants for three Israeli patients. Nobody
could understand these parents, she said, but they had been guided in this
decision by their firm faith and the conviction that reconciliation is more
than just a word.
Gharbieh visibly suffers from the situation in her country. Often, she
wonders why her children cannot have the same expectations of life as
children in normal situations elsewhere in the world. But she does not give
up hope. In the face of the conflict, she keeps searching for truth,
understanding and reconciliation, and raising her children in this spirit,
even though they do not always agree with her. It is her earnest hope that
in the long term Israelis and Palestinians will be able to walk the way of
peace together. She holds on to this dream.
(German original by Klaus Rieth, Brot fnr die Welt [Bread for the World]).
[Gharbieh was in Geneva by invitation of the LWF. She addressed journalists
at an LWF press meeting June 15 held at the offices of the United Nations
here. She was also among panelists in a June 17 seminar on justice and peace
in the Middle East, on the June 12-19 LWF Council meeting agenda.]
(The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran
tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund (Sweden), the LWF now has 133 member
churches in 73 countries representing over 60.5 million of the 64.3 million
Lutherans worldwide. The LWF acts on behalf of its member churches in areas
of common interest such as ecumenical relations, theology, humanitarian
assistance, human rights, communication, and the various aspects of mission
and development work. Its secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland.)
[Lutheran World Information (LWI) is the information service of the Lutheran
World Federation (LWF). Unless specifically noted, material presented does
not represent positions or opinions of the LWF or of its various units.
Where the dateline of an article contains the notation (LWI), the material
may be freely reproduced with acknowledgement.]
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