A memory – MESSAGES FROM GAZA NOW – October 2023 – March 2024

9 March 2024

A Memory

In 1989, l was 19 years old, and I left school for work in Israel. For Palestinians, working in Israel means only manual labor, as farmers, carpenters, mechanics, collies, cleaners, construction workers, washing dishes in restaurants, (no shame at all), and of course we are not registered in the Israeli workers unions. We have no rights other than the agreed salary, no health insurance, not any type of compensation for the end of service or for work injuries. Of course, jobs in engineering, teaching, the medical professions, and so on, are not allowed for Palestinians from Gaza and the West bank.

I had been working in a blacksmith’s. The owner was a very kind and friendly Israeli man, who originally came from Poland as a young man in 1951 with his family. He participated in the 1956 and 1973 wars as well as the invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

Once he told me in a very friendly way, “Hossam, I like you, you are a good young man, you don’t make trouble. But you know, your people are not like you. They make trouble for our army in Gaza and the West Bank. You know that if your people were clever enough and united with us, we could control the world. Your people with their good manual skills and we with our brains, we really could control the world. Just accept the fact that we are cleverer and let us make the strategic decisions.”

The following week I was in Gaza, writing graffiti against the Israeli occupation on the walls of Gaza City, and for that I was arrested for 9 months by the Israeli government.