Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"Beiruti in Jaffa, Yafawi in Beirut": Shafiq al-Hout's story in his own words

Tribute, The Electronic Intifada, 4 August 2009

"On Sunday, 2 August 2009, the celebrated journalist and founding member of the Palestine Liberation Organization Shafiq al-Hout passed away in Beirut, Lebanon at the age of 77. The following is part of Shafiq's story as told to me as part of an oral history project conducted in Beirut in 1999. The project aimed to develop appropriate material for teaching English to Palestinian refugee children based on oral history interviews with five Palestinians old enough to remember their lives in Palestine before the 1948 dispossession. Shafiq was most enthusiastic about participating in the project, explaining, "They want to erase Palestine from the memory of the new generation, and anything I can do to fight that, I will be more than happy." Shafiq not only agreed to be interviewed, but suggested other Palestinians from his generation for the project, and in some instances helped arranged meetings with them. Tears would well in Shafiq's eyes when he spoke of his life in his home city of Jaffa and of the experience of being dispossessed from his country, and the story of his grandfather's death in exile. Shafiq al-Hout was passionate, emotional, critical and a fierce fighter for the Palestinian cause and people. While we are shedding tears over his loss, we must also follow the road to return, a path from which he never wavered. -- Mayssoun Sukarieh, Beirut, Lebanon

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