Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

There's no place like homeland

It is a typical American home except for a few details. On one side of the door hangs an engraving of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, on the other a map of Palestine. A large reproduction of a drawing by Palestinian artist and novelist Ghassan Kanafani hangs over the mantelpiece. The drawing is of the Arabic word for Palestine with various symbols interwoven - a flag, a rifle stock, a map of Palestine.

For Husnieh and Jamal Anabtawi and their five children, who have lived in the United States for the last year, these artifacts are reminders of their real home. Home is the West Bank. But the family was in Kuwait when Israel occupied the territory in 1967, and they have no residency permits to live in the West Bank. Only the two oldest children, Amer, 22, and Nancy, 20, have ever visited the family's home.

About these ads

This has not kept the children from gaining strong nationalistic feelings. ``They say the best warriors for the Palestine are those who have never seen Palestine,'' says Mr. Anabtawi.

This is certainly true of the middle daughter, Aseel, 19. Palestinian artifacts adorn every wall of her room. Blowups of old Palestinian currency, paintings by Palestinian artists, and a cross-stitched map of Palestine cover the walls. A stuffed bear wearing a t-shirt saying ``Palestine Forever'' sits on the bed.

The Anabtawis are well adjusted to American society but feel their exile acutely. ``I believe one can forget his wife, ... his wealth, ... any good memories,'' says Jamal's brother Yousef. ``The only thing he can never forget is his birthplace.''

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.