Britain's Lord Acton (1834-1902) is known for saying: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men…" There are, however, many great people who are not "bad" in any way, and who have influenced the history of their countries but have not been done justice by historians.
There is no doubt that the Palestinian cause has been and remains one of the most important of global issues. Many great people have been involved in its struggle, but they are not mentioned in the pages of history. One such person is Amin Hamideh, who sacrificed everything he had in the defence of Palestine.
His absence from the history books is due to ignorance, indifference and negligence on the part of the authorities. Unfortunately, some of this is intentional. The Palestinian authorities and historians should be more diligent in collecting together the biographies of the heroes who have served Palestine so nobly over the years of the struggle for freedom and justice.
Amin Hamideh was born in the town of Al-Mazra'a Ash-Sharqiya in the district of Ramallah in 1907. He grew up as a simple peasant in an agricultural society. The difficult conditions led him to emigrate to Cuba as a young man, like thousands of other Palestinians at the time. Once there, through hard work and determination he became a well-known businessman, but his relationship with his homeland and his family remained very strong. He always considered returning to Palestine and settling down. In the meantime, he spared no effort in sending material aid to the Palestinians in 1930s and 1940s in the face of the alarming escalation of Jewish immigration during the British Mandate period.
When, in 1947, the nascent United Nations issued the Partition Plan for Palestine to divide the country into an Arab state and a Jewish state, Hamideh returned with his Cuban wife and four children. He wanted to defend his land, his country and his people: "We are the keepers of the land," he explained.
He built a large house and designed it so as to be a fortress against any attack on his town. Its location on the top of a hill near the edge of the town was very strategic, with a commanding sweep of the area. He also bought guns for most of the town's young men to defend it, and a truck to transport the injured; he himself was injured while defending the abandoned village of Qalunya, near Jerusalem. Hamideh sacrificed his enormous wealth accumulated in Cuba and all of his possessions for the sake of defending Palestine and its people.
People in Al-Mazra'a Ash-Sharqiya and the surrounding villages will always remember Amin Hamideh for this great sacrifice. They will remember him as an honourable man who gave up a life of luxury in the diaspora and returned to fight for the freedom of his homeland and his people. They will remember him as the founder of the first girls' school in the town and the person who ordered the construction of roads. His story will continue to be told among the people, because he has been immortalised by his honourable actions.
Amin Hamideh had 18 children and hundreds of grandchildren, most of whom live in the United States. He died in Venezuela, and the last thing he said was "Long live Palestine". His body was returned to Al-Mazra'a Ash-Sharqiya for burial. Many members of his family and his town followed his example and continued to defend their homeland and the rights of their people.
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