Last week US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib rejected an offer from Israel to visit her grandmother in the West Bank village of Beit Ur Al-Fouqa, after she and fellow Congresswoman Ilhan Omar were banned from taking part in a diplomatic visit.
Though Israel said it would allow Tlaib to visit her 90-year-old grandmother Muftia on “humanitarian grounds”, the Michigan Congresswoman said that she “couldn’t allow” Israel to humiliate her and use her love for her grandmother “to bow down to their oppressive and racist policies”.
Now the Twittersphere has rallied behind Tlaib by sharing past and present photos of their own Palestinian grandmothers with the hashtag #MyPalestinianSitty, paying homage to generations of Palestinian women who lived through the trauma of the 1948 Nakba and subsequent exile from their homeland.
Many users shared stories of the ordeal their grandmothers experienced during the 1948 Nakba, when some 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly driven from their homes.
Palestinian artist Dima Srouji shared a photo of her “superwoman” grandmother who fled the central Palestinian village of Ramleh.
#MyPalestinianSitty is a superwoman. She was forced to flee Ramleh at the age of 6 after her brothers were imprisoned by the Israeli forces during the Nakba. She lives in Beit Jala and raised 6 girls and a boy and has 20 grandkids. She misses the fresh fish. pic.twitter.com/GBMxergb4t
— Dima Srouji (@DimaSrouji) August 18, 2019
Twitter user Miriam’s grandma fled the village of Saris, west of Jerusalem, when it was raided by the Hagana, a paramilitary organisation which went on to form the core of the Israeli army. The family fled to Qalandiya refugee camp, before taking a boat to Lebanon and then Venezuela.
#MyPalestinianSitty & grandfather fled Saris 🇵🇸 in 48 when the Hagana Jewish forces raided their city. They fled to a refugee camp in Qalandiya and took a 60 day trip on boat from 🇱🇧 to 🇻🇪 to start their lives over. My family eventually moved Jordan. She died in 09. We never met. pic.twitter.com/RwTdnoOPGl
— miriam • مريم (@chemfoosha) August 18, 2019
Some reflected on the sacrifices their grandmothers had made to see their children and grandchildren succeed.
#MyPalestinianSitty #MyPalestinianSitty and Baba fled Jaffa during the war and were refugees who left everything behind and settled in Jordan. Raised 12 kids and 2 nieces. Sold her dishes to buy plane ticket for my dad to go to college in USA. pic.twitter.com/9flhsjwsl3
— Debbie Abdo Phelps (@phelpsd) August 19, 2019
Others chose to remember Palestine before the Nakba.
Hanan Ashrawi, member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO)’s Executive Committee, shared a photo of her grandmother Farha wearing the traditional dress of Ramallah in 1925.
#MyPalestinianSitty Teta Farha in Ramallah around 1925; sadly she died shortly after this photo was taken. My step grandmother, Teta Zareefeh, lovingly raised all nine of her children. She died in 1967 during the war. Palestinian women are truly the salt of the earth. pic.twitter.com/Zk6iBIV6QZ
— Hanan Ashrawi (@DrHananAshrawi) August 18, 2019
Twitter user Liz Zacharia shared a black and white photo of her grandmother on her honeymoon, playing in a stream with her new husband.
#MyPalestinianSitty, who though I barely knew I’ve always missed. We have the same exact name, she was a teacher as am I, and there is a definite resemblance. I grew up eating my Colombian mother’s Palestinian food that she taught her how to cook. Here she is on her honeymoon. pic.twitter.com/VUU1Pe7x0M
— Liz Zacharia (@liz_zacharia) August 19, 2019
While Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Ben Jamal, shared a photo of his grandma Nazly in their home in Talbieh, West Jerusalem.
One of the great sadnesses of my life is that I only met my Palestnian Grandparents when I was very young. Here is #MyPalestinianSitty
On the far left. She was called Nazly and she lived in Talbieh in west Jerusalem in a beautiful home from which she was forced to flee in 1948. pic.twitter.com/Tv0mJgn8Eq
— Ben Jamal (@BenJamalpsc) August 18, 2019
Younger generations of Palestinians also joined in the conversation, with Tlaib sharing a photo of her other Palestinian grandmother from Beit Hanina, just north of Jerusalem, who was “one fierce woman”.
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) August 18, 2019
Ammar Campa-Najjar – a candidate for the US’ congressional elections who, like Tlaib, is of Palestinian descent – honoured his grandma who was killed “in her own home” during the 1973 War.
#MyPalestinianSitty was killed in her own home 16 yrs before I was born. She never hurt a soul.
The last memory her children have of her is stepping over her to get to the doorway.
I honor her by choosing peace over violence & progress over bitterness.
I’m a prisoner of hope. pic.twitter.com/aYYXrpHvWO
— Ammar Campa-Najjar (@ACampaNajjar) August 19, 2019
Some highlighted the resilience of Palestinians in the face of countless wars, occupation, Intifadas and siege.
Meet #MyPalestinianSitty Fatma. She witnessed the 48 war, 56 occupation of Gaza,67 reoccupation of Gaza,78 invasion of Lebanon, 82 invasion of Lebanon, 1st & 2nd Intifadas, 3 major Israeli attacks on Gaza, & 13 years of blockade w/6 hours of electricity a day. She still smiles🙂 pic.twitter.com/oHZIq1htMx
— Jehad Abusalim جهاد أبو سليم (@JehadAbusalim) August 18, 2019
While others shared their favourite memories of their grandmothers.
She knew directions to everywhere.
I could throw on 10lbs in 2 weeks on that cooking.
She put up with more BS in a month than most do in a lifetime.
Everyone knew her.
She could read the future in coffee stained cups.
— Sam Rasoul (@Sam_Rasoul) August 18, 2019
For many, the fact that #MyPalestinianSitty was trending was testament to the strength of Palestinians.
Nineteen-year-old Palestinian Twitter user Dana said that the hashtag “absolutely filled my heart”.
the tag #MyPalestinianSitty absolutely filled my heart so I thought I’d share my beautiful, strong, kind, absolutely amazing sitty who has the hugest heart. I don’t know a person more proud to be from palestine. Love you more than anything!! pic.twitter.com/1iClyLPv0m
— dana (@iIoveharrystyle) August 19, 2019
A sentiment echoed by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
#MyPalestinianSitty is trending and I am overcome with emotions realizing how we are finally humanizing one of the world’s most dehumanized peoples.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) August 18, 2019