Oil painting, 1999, 160X200 cm. by Ismail Shammout
The Israeli occupation was oppressive and ruthless. But we struggled to survive, to assert our presence, to preserve our traditions, and sustain our dreams. Life went on.
Happy and sad occasions continued to be observed and celebrated in traditional Palestinian custom. And children multiplied …
The Palestinian, upon the usurpation of his homeland, had to distinguish himself professionally and through his conduct in order for him to find his place in life. At many locations in the world he had to endure the many hardships of life and to, moreover, prove his presence and competence through being serious, loyal and perseverant.
Life for the Palestinians did not stop at any place in spite of its harshness, limitations and the arbitrariness of the laws.
Palestinian popular life persisted in the face of all kinds of oppression, whether in the areas which became under Israeli occupation within occupied Palestine (1948), or those areas occupied by Israel in 1967 (the West Bank & Gaza). Thus, Palestinian living became subject to the changes which imposed a new pattern for the behavior and life of Palestinians, in the social, cultural, economic and political senses.
Years passed and the Zionist dream pertaining to the dissolution of the Palestinian personality and its extinction did not materialize. In effect, the Palestinian community remained cohesive and with a presence, maintaining its heritage and traditions.
The life of the Palestinian communities continued with its happy and sad moments- through a wedding or a new-born, or through the return of someone abroad. The Palestinian toiled in all available arenas and in all professional specializations.
The symbols of the homeland remained lofty- where Jerusalem takes pride in the sanctity given to it by God, with its Mosques and Churches, grand by virtue of its history and heritage. All the Palestinian cities, moreover, take pride in the bequest of the forefathers in terms of everlasting relics telling the narratives of history and past glory.
Upon the passing of a few years from the hour of the catastrophe a new pattern of Palestinian life began to prevail inside the camp and outside of it. This new pattern laid the ground for relative stability, aiding the Palestinian individual to re-evaluate what happened and, likewise, to ponder what could happen.