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Antoinette: Listen to the children’s song

Contributed by Arab Educational Institute on 07.07.2008:

I am Antoinette Knesivich. I live in Beit Jala in the Rachel’s Tomb area. The main street used to be full of people-Palestinian and Jewish. Now where I live is a dead zone.

Before 1948, in Jerusalem, everyone lived together: Palestinian, Jewish, Muslim, Christian. Here is the door to the Jewish man, here is the door to the Palestinian.

In 1948, the Hagannah came and threw the Palestinians out of their homes; the Jewish occupied their villages. The Palestinians fled, many to refugee camps. Near here, in Dheisheh Camp, my husband saw a woman press her mother close to her to shield her from the rain pouring into the tent.

My husband founded the Kalandia school, a Vocational Training School for the Palestinian people. He took young Palestinians to Sweden to study engineering. He also assisted at The House of the Children in Jerusalem where I am a Board member.

Yet I can’t go to Jerusalem anymore to attend meetings. From the time of the uprising, I can’t go with my car. Israel forbids our cars to enter and I am too old to walk and go through the checkpoints. When I was 60, I retired from teaching but stayed in Jerusalem societies. I am on the Executive Board of The Arab Society for the Handicapped. But I can’t go to Jerusalem anymore. I can’t assist the Mass there as I used to. I used to arrange the flowers in the church. But I can’t go there anymore.

They put a Wall around Bethlehem. The wall put us in prison. The Wall separates us from Rachel’s Tomb. Rachel used to be my neighbour. Before, I was having Jewish women from the nearby settlement, Gilo, come to my home to take piano lessons. I was a teacher for the Jewish ladies there. Now they can’t come here, also. How I want to do negotiations between the 2 nations, Jewish and Arab. But how-with the wall- can we talk together?

When I was 17, I bought an accordion. It was with me to let the children be happy, to change for them the situation. During the uprising, when nobody could go out, I opened my home to the children. And I played the accordion for them.

Listen to the children’s song: “The world is beautiful. Let us be happy. Let us love each other. Let us have peace here.”

Interview: January 2008

Interviewer: Jane Toby from Catskill, New York, who worked for many years with Women in Black and Middle East Crisis Response, Hudson Valley, NY. Interview in cooperation with AEI.

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