Showing 21 - 40 from 65 entries
> Life in Beit Sahour: Jaela Andoni’s Story
> Sada, living in Dheisha, 120 years old
> Hend, from Al-Walaja near Bethlehem
> Abu-Yaser Recalls Life in Tel el-Safi
> Najwa Ahmed, a Palestinian refugee in Khan Younis
> Ramzt Baroud's father
> Ishaq al-Shami, Arab Jew
> A Palestinian child in a Syrian refugee camp
> This Is Me! By Dina Meo
> Mazin Sukkar, taxi driver
> Prisoner of War: Yusif Sayigh, 1948 to 1949
> A Palestinian in Dhahiat al-Barid Records a Life...
> Talbiyeh Days: At Villa Harun ar-Rashid
> Sa’id Nimr’s Stormy Career:From the Dungeons...
> A Personal Account of the Life of Zahra al-Ja’uniyya
> Growing Old in Palestine: Gabriel Khano
> Our Palestinian Elderly: A Sociological View
> Elderly people in Palestine
> Families in Beit Ummar
> Interview with a Muslim Teacher from Artas Village
Excerpts from his recollections
As told to and edited by Rosemary Sayigh
The Jerusalem Quarterly published in its fall 2006 issue the ﬁrst of two instalments of Yusif Sayigh’s recollections describing his work in Jerusalem with the Arab Fund until much of Jerusalem was taken by Jewish ﬁghters in 1948. This second instalment describes Yusif ’s life as a prisoner of war.
Yusif Sayigh was born in Kharaba, Syria, in 1916. His father was Syrian; his mother was from al-Bassa in Palestine. The family was forced to leave Kharaba during the Druze uprising of 1925, going ﬁrst to al-Bassa and then Tiberias, where they lived until 1948.
The bulk of these recollections were recorded by his wife Rosemary Sayigh, beginning in 1989, when an operation forced Yusif to remain in bed at home for several weeks. Yusif fully intended to listen to the tapes and edit them one day, but sadly, this aim was never achieved, as he passed away in 2004.
Prisoner of War
I was taken prisoner of war a few days after the state of Israel was established. In fact, I had realized that I was going to be taken prisoner because I could see that the Zionists, the Israelis, were advancing on Katamon and closing the roads out of Katamon one after the other. I felt like a bird–it’s said that when a bird sees a snake, it begins circling around its head until it gets so close that it is grabbed by the snake and swallowed. I felt that this was going to happen to us.
On the other hand, I didn’t want to leave. At the beginning, I and my friend, Ahmad Abd al-Khalek, could have left. We were together with a few others in Baqaa, the Greek colony area, and we could still have made it if we had walked downhill into the back side of the Old City. But I didn’t want to leave. I felt that if a young man like me left–I was 32 then–then I couldn’t blame somebody 50 or 60 with a family and children if they ran away. So I stayed on, and when eventually people in the area told us that the Zionists were closing in, Ahmad and I and about 20 young men from the quarter decided to go and register as guests in the German Hospice. There was a German Hospice that had already been placed under International Red Cross protection.
When we got there, the nuns were very kind. They registered us as guests who had been there before–bona ﬁde guests. It was a hospice where people could stay like paying guests. They told us that there were others who had come there with their families. In all, there might have been 150 people.
Then, one afternoon, somebody who was acting as a scout came in to say that it would be a matter of an hour before the Zionists reached the hospice, and got hold of us. There were still occasional bursts of ﬁring, but by then the whole of West Jerusalem had fallen to the Jews, and the more daring of us could walk out of the hospice and see the Zionists already occupying the Arab Higher Committee ofﬁce, a bit further west. What surprised me was that they were just throwing paper from the windows by the kilogram, not caring to collect these papers and to study them. I was surprised because I always assumed that they would be very systematic, and collect every scrap of paper, and take it to study it. They were not ﬁring at us; they were just narrowing in on us…. They were afraid that there might be an ambush or something. They were moving a building at a time.
When somebody said that they would be here within an hour, I rushed to the mother superior of the convent and said to her, Now we are going to be encircled, and soon they’ll take the young men, and take us, too–God knows where, maybe to shoot us. But since you are under Red Cross protection, please pass around sheets of paper so that everybody in the hospice can ﬁll in their names.
It was about dinner time. We were having dinner early, in one dining room, so it was easy to do this. I stood up (I took over as though I was already elected leader of the group). I said, Look, soon the Jews will come (they were waiting for it to get dark before they entered), so we’d better give our names to the sisters here so that there will be a record of who’s been caught. Don’t worry: women, children and older men will not be taken prisoner. But for us young men, it’s essential that we make a list. They registered the names, and a few weeks later, when the mother superior managed to have access to the Red Cross and to pass them the lists, that’s when the Israelis acknowledged our existence.
For the remainder of the document, see the Jerusalem Quarterly: