'Afro-Palestinians' forge a unique identity in Israel


'Afro-Palestinians' forge a unique identity in Israel
  1. 'Afro-Palestinians' forge a unique identity in Israel
    www.brandonsun.com
    JERUSALEM - In the shadow of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City lies the "African Quarter" — home to a little-known community of nearly 50 Arab families of African descent. Descended from Muslim pilgrims from a variety of African countries, they now consider themselves pr…
    Lifestyle

JERUSALEM - In the shadow of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City lies the "African Quarter" — home to a little-known community of nearly 50 Arab families of African descent.

Descended from Muslim pilgrims from a variety of African countries, they now consider themselves proud Palestinians, despite widespread poverty and occasional discrimination from both Palestinians and Israelis. Several have even participated in violent attacks against Israel.

"We regard ourselves to be Afro-Palestinian," said community leader Ali Jiddah.

Jiddah, a former member of the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, spent 17 years in Israeli prison for taking part in a 1968 bombing that wounded nine Israelis before he was freed in a prisoner swap. Jiddah, who long ago renounced violence, is now a well-known tour guide in the Old City, offering what he calls an "alternative" perspective on the conflict with Israel.

Afro-Palestinians reside in various Palestinian cities, with large communities in Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank town of Jericho.

Some are the descendants of slaves or soldiers brought in during Ottoman times. The forefathers of Jerusalem's African Quarter are mostly Muslim pilgrims from Chad, Sudan, Nigeria and Senegal who settled here or got stuck during periods of war.

"My father came from Chad, from the Salamat tribe," said Mousa Qous, 55, director of the African Community Society, a grassroots centre that serves black Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Standing under posters of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Nelson Mandela, he said his father came to Jerusalem on a religious pilgrimage in 1959 and "then decided to stay to fight in the 1967 war."

Others came with The Arab Salvation Army, an army of volunteers that fought on the Arab side in the 1948 war surrounding Israel's creation.

"We are originally Nubians from Aswan," in southern Egypt, said 30 year-old Hanan Bersi.

Some still have their ancestors' identification documents, like Ibrahim Firawi, whose grandfather came from Sudan's western region of Darfur.

"We have documents and letters, and even tried to contact the Sudanese Embassy in Jordan to help connect us with family in Sudan," he said. Showing off his father's old passport, he said he has not been able to track down any of his relatives.

Historic Palestine was a crossroads for different cultures, and some Palestinians trace back their roots to a range of non-Arab groups, from Kurds to Indians and Afghans. Afro-Palestinians were denied Jordanian citizenship after the 1967 war, as they were not seen as Palestinians. Israel has treated members of the group like other Palestinians with varying degrees of rights depending on whether they live in east Jerusalem, the West Bank or Gaza.

But even after decades in the region, fitting in has not always been easy. As newcomers, many faced discrimination because of their skin colour.

"Our parents were foreigners. They were more sensitive as foreigners, and people would tell them that they were foreigners, that their colour was such and such," said Hawa Balalawi, a shop owner whose father was from Chad.

Most of Jerusalem's Afro-Palestinian residents live in old buildings that were originally built in the 10th century for the city's poor. Made later into prisons by the Ottomans, the buildings were handed over to the Old City's Islamic trusteeship during the British Mandate, which rented them to members of the African community because many served as guards or servants at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Despite these deep roots to the area, some Palestinians still refer to them with a local derogatory term, "abeed," Arabic for "slaves," and to their neighbourhood as "habs al-abeed" or the "slaves' prison."

"We fought the usage of this term and mentality for many years," Quos said. "Less people use it now." But he said racism can still surface, in marriage proposals, for example.

"Sometimes when a black Palestinian wants to marry a white Palestinian woman, some members of her family might object," he said. "It's not a phenomenon, and recently, there have been more inter-marriages."

Jiddah, the tour guide, blamed ignorance for any type of racism among Palestinians, and points out that he has experienced similar racism from Israelis.

"We Afro-Palestinians are dually oppressed, as Palestinians and because of our colour the Israelis call us "kushis" — a derogatory word for blacks.

Still, he said the involvement of Afro-Palestinians in the struggle for independence has elevated their status in the eyes of their fel…

Tags: #Muslims
  1. Alberta environment minister says green incentives program ready by March

    Brandonsun.com - Lifestyle
    01.17 / 21:07 www.brandonsun.com
    EDMONTON - Environment Minister Shannon Phillips says energy efficiency programs to help Albertans save money are now in the final stages and will be launched as early as March. Phillips says the first programs will give homeowners the chance to receive LED light bulbs and low-flow shower…
  2. Stevie Nicks reluctant

    Castanet.net - Entertainment
    01.17 / 20:56 www.castanet.net
    Stevie Nicks is hesitant to make new music because she feels people aren't willing to pay for artists' work. The 68-year-old last unveiled new solo material in 2011, with the record titled In Your Dreams, while her band, Fleetwood Mac, last released an album in 2003. And Stevie now admits…
  3. Dora the Wonder Pony

    Horse-canada.com - Lifestyle
    01.17 / 20:41 horse-canada.com
    Just got into the house after playing with Dora in the arena. On the really cold days I play with her in the barn so this past week the barn has seen a bit of action. Up in the arena read…
  4. Nissan's Qashqai finally makes it to Canada

    Guelphmercury.com - Lifestyle
    01.17 / 20:26 www.guelphmercury.com
    Qashqai shares many of the design, utility and technology attributes as the Rogue, but is slightly smaller, sportier and more affordable for younger, urban SUV…
  5. Homosexual couples aggressively coming out in Catholic parishes and no one’s stopping them

    Lifesitenews.com - Lifestyle
    01.17 / 19:14 www.lifesitenews.com
    'Gay-friendly' parishes and non-approved ministries are seemingly everywhere, and most dioceses are turning a blind…
  6. You can help

    Guelphmercury.com - Lifestyle
    01.17 / 19:06 www.guelphmercury.com
    The Volunteer Action Centre of KW and Area invites all Canadians to participate in the Canada 150 for 150 challenge. Individually or as a group, make a pledge to volunteer 150 hours over the course of 2017. Individuals can track their hours at https://volinspire.com/signup/canada150 or anyone can share their experience by visiting volunteerkw.ca. Our online database contains hundreds of volunteer opportunities that are updated daily. Let’s make 2017 the biggest year for volunteerism y…
  7. Streep, Meyers, ‘Moonlight’ to be honoured at LGBTQ gala

    Lethbridgeherald.com - Lifestyle
    01.17 / 19:05 lethbridgeherald.com
    NEW YORK – Actress Meryl Streep, TV host Seth Meyers, and the Golden Globe-winning movie “Moonlight” will be honoured next month by the Human Rights Campaign, the LGBTQ civil rights organization. The award for “Moonlight,” a coming-of-age film about a black gay youth, will be accepted by Tarell Alvin McCraney, the author of the play The post Streep, Meyers, ‘Moonlight’ to be honoured at LGBTQ gala appeared first on The Lethbridge Herald - News and…
  8. Waterloo firefighter shares firehouse recipes

    Guelphmercury.com - Lifestyle
    01.17 / 17:23 www.guelphmercury.com
    For Patrick Mathieu, the choice was easy. Either he could be on cook duty or…
  9. Colin Mochrie champions transgender rights, expresses support for daughter

    Brandonsun.com - Lifestyle
    01.17 / 17:23 www.brandonsun.com
    TORONTO - Canadian comic Colin Mochrie says he welcomes his new role as a champion for transgender rights after speaking out in support of his daughter. The "Whose Line Is it Anyway?" star says he didn't expect to receive much attention when he took to Twitter on Sunday to ask why some…
  10. Brown butter adds nutty nuance to classic sauce

    Guelphmercury.com - Lifestyle
    01.17 / 17:03 www.guelphmercury.com
    Just when you thought you couldn’t take a sauce or baked good to another level, along comes brown b…
  11. Dumbbell flyes target chest and shoulders

    Guelphmercury.com - Lifestyle
    01.17 / 16:23 www.guelphmercury.com
    Dumbbell flyes help to strengthen the chest (pectoral) muscles. For maximum benefit, include them alongside other common chest exercises, such as push-ups and chest presses. This allows for developing strength on varying planes of…
  12. Katherine Heigl announces birth of baby boy, Joshua Bishop

    Lethbridgeherald.com - Lifestyle
    01.17 / 16:22 lethbridgeherald.com
    LOS ANGELES – Katherine Heigl has given birth to a baby boy. A representative for the Heigl tells People magazine the actress and husband Josh Kelley welcomed Joshua Bishop Kelley, Jr. on Dec. 20. Joshua is the couple’s first son and Heigl’s first biological child. She has two adopted daughters, 4-year-old Adalaide and 8-year-old Naleigh. The post Katherine Heigl announces birth of baby boy, Joshua Bishop appeared first on The Lethbridge Herald - News and Sports from…
  13. ‘Aladdin’ star James Monroe Iglehart switches to ‘Hamilton’

    Lethbridgeherald.com - Lifestyle
    01.17 / 16:02 lethbridgeherald.com
    NEW YORK – Tony Award-winner James Monroe Iglehart is trading in his genie bottle for a place in American history onstage. Iglehart, the star of “Aladdin” on Broadway, will join “Hamilton” in the dual roles of Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson starting in mid-April. It’s the joint role Daveed Diggs won a Tony in The post ‘Aladdin’ star James Monroe Iglehart switches to ‘Hamilton’ appeared first on The Lethbridge Herald -…
  14. Trudeau says he may not wish political leadership on his young daughter

    Brandonsun.com - Lifestyle
    01.17 / 16:02 www.brandonsun.com
    FREDERICTON - The prime minister says he may not encourage his young daughter to carry on the family tradition of political leadership. Justin Trudeau was at a town hall in Fredericton when he was asked by a little girl what his eight-year-old daughter Ella-Grace wants to be when she…
  15. SLIDE

    Horse-canada.com - Lifestyle
    01.17 / 15:13 horse-canada.com
                NOBLE BIRD RUNS IN EARLE MACK’S STARTING GATE SLOT IN PEGASUS The PEGASUS WORLD CUP, Jan. 28, prospective field with last 4 Beyer Figures: California Chrome – 104, 119, 112, 113 Arrogate – 120, read…
  16. COOKING ON DEADLINE: Cheesy Beer Dip with Hot Pretzels

    Brandonsun.com - Lifestyle
    01.17 / 14:42 www.brandonsun.com
    It is easy enough to put out bag after bag of chips during a Sunday football-watching party, or any other gathering for that matter. And it's not much harder to go the extra step and put those chips into an actual bowl ... you know, if you're feeling classy. But how about making a…
  17. You're going on vacation, but what about your plants?

    Brandonsun.com - Lifestyle
    01.17 / 14:41 www.brandonsun.com
    Winter, especially early winter, is a good time of year for gardeners to travel. Houseplants now are most tolerant of neglect and, if we plan a little, they can even thrive in our absence. Lack of water is the major threat to neglected plants. But you know how long your plants can go…
  18. Hyundai highlights US spending plan before Trump inaugurated

    Brandonsun.com - Lifestyle
    01.17 / 08:15 www.brandonsun.com
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - Hyundai Motor Group said Tuesday it will significantly increase its investment in the U.S. while Donald Trump is president and is considering building a new U.S. factory, in an unusual disclosure of its mid-term investment plan in the key market. Chung Jin Haeng,…
  19. Tax deadline looms for Prince estate; government to get half

    Lethbridgeherald.com - Lifestyle
    01.17 / 07:14 lethbridgeherald.com
    MINNEAPOLIS – “Money Don’t Matter 2 Night,” Prince once sang. But his money matters a lot to the IRS, and the case provides a cautionary tale not just for the wealthy, but not-so-rich Americans as well. Prince’s estate has until Saturday to file an estate tax payment for the late rock superstar, and the taxes The post Tax deadline looms for Prince estate; government to get half appeared first on The Lethbridge Herald - News and Sports from around…
  20. 88 million tons a year: Auditors decry EU food waste

    Brandonsun.com - Lifestyle
    01.16 / 23:06 www.brandonsun.com
    BRUSSELS - The sheer waste of food had been bothering teacher Marijke De Jongh for so long that two years ago she set up a pop-up restaurant to serve perfectly good groceries and meat that were approaching their expiry date. With her Rekub team, she followed it up with an app that…