It’s the BBC, but not as you know it

Posted on 28 August 2014

Thursday August 28th

This evening I went to the BBC…that is, the Bethlehem Book Club. It’s been formed by a group of women living in the Bethlehem area, most of whom are married to Palestinians. They meet monthly, at one of the member’s homes which is large enough to accommodate everyone. Tonight I was an honorary member as I do not live in Palestine full-time at present, but one of my best friends is always trying to persuade me to come back now, rather than when R has finished her secondary education. So she took me along as part of her campaign to ‘Bring George Home‘!

There were twelve of us, a good turnout! We went round the group, introducing ourselves and sharing a highlight for the month before discussing the books each of us had had read. When it was my turn, I said my highlight was being asked only one question at Ben Gurion before being ‘welcomed’ to Israel. As it’s summer, quite a few of the others had recently travelled (mainly to the US as, bar me and three others, the rest were American). They all said they too had not had any problems returning.

Sadly that wasn’t the case for one woman (not part of the BBC), returning from the US with two young children. In the immigration queue her children were speaking Arabic and an Israeli woman behind them assaulted the mother because she was Palestinian. She was punched, had her face scratched and a handful of hair was yanked from her head. It was terrifying and indicative of the attitude of many Israelis: violence against and abuse of Palestinians is entirely acceptable. (They shared this horrendous incident with me as they are friends with the woman concerned and she had posted about it on Facebook.)

Another member, whom I’ve known for a long time, spoke of her recent visit to her parents in the Dominican Republic. Her husband is Palestinian and works here as a cameraman for the BBC. They were there when Israel began its onslaught on Gaza. The first day they anxiously watched the satellite channels for news. Channel 2 was BBC and channel 3 was Al Jazeera. Overnight both channels had been replaced with Channel 2 (Israeli news), Fox and other American news broadcasters. They enquired with people they know and were told that it had been ordered at the highest level.

The group is intended to help build a community of women who have Palestinian partners but who themselves grew up in the West. There’s not a huge number of women like this here, and we are can be rather isolated. As one said to me, you can hardly go up to every foreigner in the street and ask them if they actually live here! So it’s hard to find people with whom you can share experiences and who have an understanding of a culture and lifestyle similar to your own. The group was quite diverse: some work in the NGO sector, others work in education, another has just finished writing a book about oral histories of Palestine. They were all from different backgrounds and it was nice to spend some time with different people.

Coming to live in Palestine is not easy, particularly through marriage as you suddenly become part of a different community and of a new family, and the pressure can be quite intense sometimes. It’s good to know this group exists as it provides a place for women in similar situations who can really identify with the challenges of living here, and share the good and the bad times together. Some spoke of their horror at watching the genocide in Gaza from afar, something I had found so difficult myself. It’s always worse being outside of Palestine when there is something happening that is making global news, so it’s good to know that we’re not alone, even when we feel that we are.

2 responses to It’s the BBC, but not as you know it

  • Karla says:

    I celebrate the fact that the BBC exist!! I dont live in Palestine but,I have family in Betlehem, and I have being there for a couple of times. I hope one day when I am visiting Betlehem, I can joint the group.

  • Leave a Response

    Bookmark and Share


    Recent Posts

    Tag Cloud

    1948 activism ahdaf ameer makhoul BDS beit jala Bethlehem budrus checkpoint community deheishe economy gaza Ghassan Kanafani home illegal occupation Intifada Iran Israel juliano mer hamis Lebanon Leila Khaled nakba negotiations PA Palestine palestine papers palestinian PFLP popular struggle prisoners rap refugees resistance revolution Sam Bahour Settlements society students tunnels wadi fukin wall war Water west bank

    Copyright © Georgina Reeves