The Pen Is Mightier…

Over the past few days we got the opportunity to travel to Bethlehem, Jericho, and Nablus. We took the Palestinian routes because I’m a Palestinian and that’s the route I am permitted to use. I think describing the roads as tortuous and steep would be an understatement. Some areas include an incline of 35 degrees, typically not permitted by any engineering standard. The road travels through mountains and is conveniently called the Valley of Fire – quite a journey.

Traveling these routes to various Palestinian Cities gave us a glimpse at the Settlement cities scattered throughout the West Bank and heavily around East Jerusalem. As a Palestinian it’s quite disheartening to see but yet I am quite interested to directly question the legitimacy of the settlement cities. I have always tried to maintain as neutral of a position as possible in the context of identifying as a Palestinian, with both sets of grandparents as refugees from both the 1948 and 1967 wars. I am most keen to begin rotations in Jerusalem so that we can ask these questions to Israelis, Settlers, and so forth. I am here to learn from everyone and everything around me just as I am trying to educate all those around me. This is no exception.

Over the past few days, I have encountered a number of powerful experiences that highlight a relationship I stumbled upon. They might not seem related but bare with me. I’d like to share a story about a man who is a family friend and is a business entrepreneur, heavily involved in real estate. Quite an inspirational man to which I hope to mirror in the future in combination with a number of my other family members. This man owns and manages the company which is building Rawabi, a Palestinian city from scratch and is the first of its kind to house 40,000 people. He is involved in many projects including purchasing complexes and land in East Jerusalem as well as throughout the West Bank. He maintains a strong effort to grasp onto what is left of Palestinian land in the West Bank despite obstacle after obstacle.

When I was in middle school, my father left America after establishing himself there, and relocated our family to Ramallah to open up a Cardiac Center that helped the region. As I’m here now, I am imagining leaving America right now and moving here to work, it would be a challenge but not impossible. My Aunt, Dr. Faramand who helped to organize this rotation, worked to standardize healthcare in the Palestinian Territories as well as revitalize the entire healthcare system, with many major accomplishments. Clearly many role models to follow in their footsteps.

This past Sunday, I met an anesthesiologist I was working with in the Palestine Medical Complex observing and assisting in Surgery named Dr. Nidal (not my father). He worked closely with a relative of mine Dr. Shawki, a prestigious cardiothoracic surgeon in the region. He had only begun working at the Palestine Medical Complex for 3 weeks and was thrilled to have me observe and assist him. I was equally as excited. I have never worked in another surgical center in another country and there were many differences from the medications available, supplies, tools, and the alternative approaches that were necessary. He spent much of his time teaching me medications, doses, administration, intubation techniques, IV access to name a few. He said, “It’s very important that we teach each other.” Of course I agreed. He also repeated several times, “Your people need leaders like you”, “Don’t forget us, and don’t forget where you came from”.

The last story revolves around dinner with the mayor of the town called Taybeh. He explained to all of us that many Palestinian families returned to the region after the Oslo Peace Accords to invest in Palestine and raise children in this lively environment. One of many intentions included catalyzing the economy, trade, commerce, and society as a whole. All in an effort to bring back some of the resources that were provided to them in other countries to the country of their origin.

These may seem like a haphazard collection of stories but it stood out to me that “The pen is mightier than the Sword.” Story after story after story I felt that theme arise and it resonated with me. A group of individuals that are either related to me or completely random were tied together in some weird way. These strong influential individuals used their resources, opportunities, aspirations to bring back something to the community here and continue the non-violent resistance against the occupation, the settlements, the road blocks and checkpoints that I see all around Ramallah, Jericho, Bethlehem – to continue living despite the odds. They maintained the non-violent resistance against losing the land, the identity, and the value of being a Palestinian. Succumbing to the easier path may lead to loosing everything I am. This is a “Thank You” to these individuals for ensuring that I don’t forget who I am and where I come from. Keep up the struggle with your “pens” for a just and peaceful Palestine. My “pen” is at hand!

One Response to “The Pen Is Mightier…”
  1. David Sheahdeh says:

    So proud of you Dr. Harb. Take care
    Uncle David

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