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Palestinian Politics

Hope for the Future:
An Interview with Amal Jadou

International Women’s Peace Service
March 18, 2005

Amal Jadou
Amal Jadou

Amal is a 31-year-old refugee from Aida Camp, Bethlehem. She is a Ph.D. candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in the U.S. She was recently hosted by the government of Japan, as a recipient of their Young Leadership Prize. She hopes to be elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Download the full interview (Windows, 40MB, RealMedia, 33MB) OR Click on the clip you want to watch (You need to have either Windows MediaViewer or Real Player (download free RealPlayer)

Part 1: Introduction (3:40)
(Windows, 9.24MB, RealMedia, 3.59MB)

“I lived three years in the US, but every summer I always made sure I came back to Palestine and worked with different NGOs on refugee issues, political prisoners’ issues and women’s issues, because I wanted to maintain the contact between what I learned in the US and the reality on the ground.”

“The reason why I would want to be in the Legislative Council is because I believe that change in this society has to happen, if we have two parameters to guarantee that: I believe in a democratic society, and in order to have that, I believe there are two prerequisites. One is the rule of law, and the other is having institutions, strong and free, open institutions.”

“If I’m in the Legislative Council, maybe the laws that we would make would not be implemented immediately, but at least they would be there, and maybe the next generation would be able to make better use of them.”

Part 2: Women’s Liberation, the Situation of Refugees, and the Nature of Occupation (4:15)
(Windows, 10.7 MB, RealMedia, 4.04MB)

“When you [women] have a role guaranteed by law, then nobody’s saying like, ‘I sent you to get an education’ or ‘I allowed you to go to work.’ So it becomes something like the man gives, rather than you’re doing something that’s your right.’”

“There are no laws that really support disabled people. People think that compared to other Arab countries, we are very developed in that, but even in developed society, you need to become more and more progressive.”

Amal Jadou

“Refugee camps in general have been going through very harsh conditions for the last sixty years....We have running water every 21 days, because the Israelis control the water....They control when we can laugh and when we can smile and when we can cry. They control our movement.”

“People think occupation, it controls our movement, it controls our land, but what they do not understand, is that it infiltrates into our soul. And it becomes like slavery, where you don’t feel free at all, it is like someone is grabbing your throat. The closest I was able to read about, something that I could assimilate occupation to, is my readings about African American slavery.”

Part 3: Women in the First Intifada and the Effect of the Oslo Process (9:42)
(Windows 24.3 MB, RealMedia 9.08MB)

“If you asked me to describe an Israeli soldier’s face, I couldn’t do it. They were just these things in green, coming into the camp, dragging my brothers out of the house, when they were like 10 or 12, and beating them, and making them wipe out the graffiti.”

“I wasn’t really good at throwing stones, because I didn’t have strong arms. And I remember at one point, my grandmother and my mother, two strong women who had a major impact on my life, said, ‘You know, you are gifted with other things.’”

“Women played a major role in the first Intifada, but not just women, all of Palestinian society played a role in the First Intifada. The First Intifada was a popular Intifada, and everyone participated....There were so many young men in prison, and young women too but the numbers were not as high as men, so you had 24,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails, and women had to be the leaders, and with the movement of education, in the universities, women were leading Student Senates in the universities.”

“Women were great with the First Intifada, and then Oslo happened the unfortunate Oslo happened, and women thought, okay, khalas, the country is liberated, we don’t have to have any more a political role, let’s work on social issues. And they took part in the regression of their role. They excluded themselves.”

Part 4: A Sin to Be Different: Role of Women in Palestinian Society (3:51)
(Windows 9.7MB, RealMedia 3.66MB)

“Until the beginning of the Intifada, many Palestinian Muslim women did not wear the veil. People think of the war on terrorism in the US, and they think ... we’re going to liberate them, we’re going to democratize them, but ... what they actually accomplish is the opposite. People are becoming much more closed. People are trying to cling to what they think the United States is trying to rip them off, which is their religion....The US administration ... are really not helping the liberals of Arab society, and the secularists of Arab society, they are marginalizing us.”

“I don’t wear tank tops and shorts in the camp. I wear normal, decent clothes, but there are times when I feel totally naked. But I make myself come back to myself and say, this is not what I want to do, because I will be falling into the trap of assimilating.”

“One of the cycles that I really want to break in my society is that everybody has to be the same....It’s a sin to be different.”

Part 5: The Hardest Thing for a Young Palestinian Woman Is Being Occupied (9:43)
(Windows 24.3MB, RealMedia 9.08MB)

“The hardest thing about being a Palestinian young woman is being occupied, I think. Because there are no consequences for anything they might do, no judicial processes where you can get your rights....It just makes me hate myself, hate the fact that I’m a woman, sometimes. Because this young man just thinks that he has so much control and power over my life....and he really can make me feel like I’m nothing, I’m worth nothing.”

“Even in the United States, I can go where I want, but I don’t feel that I’m free. I am still occupied.”

“After 9/11, I was really scared [in the U.S.]....My first encounter with 9/11 was, I lived in a dorm, so I went downstairs and there was a TV, so students were watching it, and one student actually asked me, ‘Is there any anniversary for any Palestinian political party today?’... I’m looking, and I really didn’t even know what was going on. He’s like, ‘Look what you people have done.’”

“But to be honest, I was totally supported by the administration, and my professors, and many American students came to me, and students from other Third World countries like African countries, places like China and countries in Latin America, and they said, ‘Don’t worry. You’re here with us, and we’re going to support you.’”

“There are certain things within my culture that I really appreciate....Like, I thought that I would never miss the muezzin, the person who says the prayer in the morning, but I really did when I was in the U.S. Because like, what’s breaking the [Ramadan] fast, without the muezzin? You just stop eating, and then you break your fast, without the family setup.”

Part 6: Hope for the Future: Institution Building After Arafat (4:13)
(Windows 10.6 MB, RealMedia 4.05MB)

Amal Jadou

“Arafat for me was a symbol, he was the one who transferred us from a bunch of refugees dispersed all over the world, into a national movement fighting for our rights, accepted in the international community.”

“For me he is a symbol of so many Palestinians, who have suffered a lot all of their lives, and they haven’t seen the dream come to reality.”

“I am an optimistic person by nature, and I believe in people’s ability to do things, if they have the will....I have encountered enough Palestinians, and enough Israelis by now, and enough international people, who really have so much will to change things, and because I see the hope in their eyes and how active they are and how brave they are, I think there will be change....we will have a Palestinian state, and we will be able to be free, and just live like any other nation on earth. And still we will have our problems and our issues to deal with.”

Read more first-hand reports.

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Watch Interview with Amal Jadou in RealPlayer | Download for Windows Media Player

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