Finding a Voice Under Occupation

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Young Palestinians Speak: Living Under Occupation, by Anthony Robinson and Annemarie Young (2017).

By Fouad Moughrabi / The Electronic Intifada
August 28, 2017

This is a unique book showcasing the voices of young Palestinians who look and sound like other children throughout the world. They live in difficult conditions but nevertheless attempt to lead normal lives and dare to dream of a better future.

This book is a labor of love about young people who are born in the perpetual insecurity of a conflict zone. What does it mean to live under military occupation, when soldiers raid your home in the middle of the night and drag your brother or father to jail?

Words have limited power to accurately describe the fear that grips a child when soldiers come to detain him or her. Media accounts of the Israeli occupation, illegal Jewish settlements, checkpoints and Israel’s wall in the West Bank fail to give the reader a feel for what these words really mean or what they may entail for people in their daily life.

Palestinians as regular human beings are largely absent from mainstream media; they usually simply appear as statistics, or are portrayed as anti-Israeli or as terrorists.

Young Palestinians Speak is an attempt to correct this injustice.

It offers young readers a glimpse of what their Palestinian peers think, how they feel and what they aspire to do in their lives. The reader learns that Rand wants to become a fashion designer, Shabeh wants to be a doctor, Basel wants to become an architect, while Tarteer and Abran want to become school teachers.

The authors, both longtime children’s book writers, situate the interviews through a brief historical introduction, a description of what the Israeli occupation is about and a list of key terms and issues such as settlements, water — or the lack of it — and access to education. The language, devoid of jargon, is easy to read and understand.

Life for young Palestinians living under military occupation has been difficult even under the best of circumstances. What is remarkable is that nearly every one of the interviewees either knows someone or is related to a person in an Israeli jail. They all report frightening encounters with Israeli soldiers that occur almost daily.

The Palestinian rights group Addameer reports that as of July, Israeli authorities were holding a total of 320 Palestinian minors.

[Read the full article here . . . ]

Young Palestinians Speak is available from the publisher, Interlink Books, and from Amazon.