Denmark, June 14 (Pal Telegraph) – I grew up as a Christian in this country, Denmark. I grew up with the stories of the Promised Land, the land without people.
The story about the fertile land, which mercifully sheltered the Jewish people, after 40 years of wandering around in the desert, which Moses saw, trying to enter the land. Moses never entered the land; he died in the desert outside, before he ever got there.
I grew up with the story of Anne Frank and she was one of my best friends, throughout my childhood. My grandmother was Christian, and she often told me stories about her experiences during World War 2 – that her brother smuggled Jews to Sweden in a small fishing boat in the middle of the night, and that she, herself, had been hiding English pilots up on her ceiling in Rønne on Bornholm.
I am one of those who swore, in the history class, that this we have to prevent more than anything, from happening again. That a whole world, silently, let the slaughtering of a whole nation of people happen right in front of their eyes. That a whole world, shaking their heads, listened to the lies about these people, and by doing that, legalized the termination, because, anyway, they are a people filled with conflicts and problem makers, who cannot participate in anything necessary in any society anyway.
But the more I talk about the Second World War, which happened 70 years ago, a story which should be like an unclear, distant fragment in our lives and in this time; the more I hear the bell of recognition in my ears.
But it’s not a strange and unknown story, I know it all, all the horror and the fear and the injustice and the silence… the killing silence.
The first time I met anyone from Palestine, in real flesh and blood, was in 1989, here in Denmark. They were two very good friends, and I was so honored to meet such a dew-fresh Palestinian, from the land where our beloved Jesus had walked around.
I thought there was a weak light around them, some of the light from Jesus. They had been created from the same dust, their families had for generations been drinking of the same water, from the same places where Jesus had been drinking.
They had to be special, these people, I was thinking. And we became very close friends. The friendship developed and one year later I was married and when I heard the story of Muhammad, I became a Muslim shortly after.
We were married for 8 years and had 3 children. And both of us tried, we really did, the best we could, to give each other a nice life, but it was doomed to fail from the beginning. We didn’t have the slightest idea of the situation we were in, and we ignored it and told each other that everything was perfect.
We were a very popular couple and our children were welcomed wherever we went, amongst my friends and his family. Not mine though, since they didn’t accept the idea of a Palestinian guy in Denmark.
Gradually as the years passed, I realized that I developed, I grew, became older and I grew up. I became a mother and it was good to be married. My husband was a good man and he taught me an incredible amount of his knowledge, about life, about humans and about God. But something was wrong… he didn’t develop.
On the contrary, he became more and more distant and absent. Waking up in the morning soaking in sweat, with no school program could he finish, no job could he keep without coming home every day with stories of conspiracies they all had planned against him, and all the humiliation he went through everywhere.
I was surprised, didn’t believe him, and we fought about it, had endless discussions and I defended my people and my country, like in a war situation. I cried and was bitter. Finally I started to believe it, just a little and then started the isolation. It has taken me many years to dig myself out of that isolation, but I came out on the other side, fortunately.
My ex-husband was born in 1962, grew up in Beirut, never set foot on Palestinian land, and he was a PLO child soldier from the age of 8. Not even some of his closest family members know this. He hid it also from his parents. Hid his uniform and rifle in a special hiding place before he went home in the evening.
The funniest game, he and his friends had, was to throw cans while they sneaked along the house walls, to locate where the snipers were shooting from, sitting on the roofs of the houses spread around the part of Beirut City, where the two refugee camps Sabra and Chatila are located. He lived through all the massacres up close. And he found places where murdered and tortured people had been thrown, which someone unsuccessfully had tried to hide away. I remember he told me about a place where there were only dead naked women, and the boys have been standing here, from a bridge, looking down at them with great fear and interest… on their way home from school.
Now, when I think about it, I can’t seem to understand at all, how we lived without more struggle than we actually did. As said before, I slowly realized that something was wrong. The first time I started to think about it, was at a visit paid by a nurse. And she noticed something about my boys’ walk. The way they walked. And she started to ask about their father, and his life. And I explained away and made it seem like nothing, when I realized where this conversation was heading. Due to my knowledge of my husband’s view on psychiatrists, I closed the subject and didn’t listen to hear good-meaning advice. Many years had to pass before I was to find out exactly what was wrong, and at that moment it was too late. I gave up, we got divorced, he moved to the other end of the country and I tried to collect the pieces of our broken life. And this was hard, because he was sailing, and he still is sailing, in his mind. He is travelling around in Arabia and smiling to the sun and the women. He has now 5 children and he forgot all about them, because they are in no danger, nobody is shooting at them, like they shoot after him… so everything is glory and shiny.
And I sit alone, without a family, without an ex-family-in-law, because they fight for themselves, to build just a little bit of life quality. But all they save they send to the family. And all vacation is spent in Syria or Lebanon, just to get a little home feeling.
And all the time, which they should use educating and raising their children, is spent telling each other the stories, the old ones, and the new ones and to follow all news, its important, because maybe…soon…a new agreement…compensation?…a new law, Obama says. And the children, our children, they sit also alone, left with tons of unsolved questions. And they are met with the worst expectations you can expect from a schizophrenic violent psychopath. Even they don’t even know what’s going on around them. They are Palestinians, their mother is a Danish Muslim, with a scarf and everything… alas, what poor, poor children.
But no, they are not poor. I don’t want them to be poor; they are winners and they are survivors. That’s why I write this story. Actually it’s not even written for you; it’s their story. To collect their story somewhere, because it became so sporadic and unclear, eventually.
The grandparents of my children were both born in Palestine. His father, Khalil Abou Hichme, was born in Haifa and his mother, Alia Natour, was born in Jaffa. They and their family were driven out from their properties and land areas with the key around the neck and some with the door under their arms, for the first time in 1948. At first they lived in a refugee camp, and later they were again driven out of Palestine to Lebanon.
Here they used all their values left to get a house for the entire family outside the refugee camp in Beirut. There is an aunt in Allepo, in Syria, and still an uncle and a half-brother in Beirut. Then there is “someone” in the USA, and that’s that. There is nothing more – no names, no history, no goals, no hope, no heritage, nothing. Only that silence… which makes such a noise.
I will try to uncover more facts of my children’s family and story and put it here when I find something. Because they are starting to forget and that disturbs me, because I have a feeling inside me, telling me, that it very, very important that they don’t forget they are Palestinians from Denmark.
By Helene Larsen
Muslim writer and pro Palestinian activist in Denmark
(www.paltelegraph.com / 07.08.2012)