Showing 41 - 60 from 118 entries
> Naji al Ali (1936 - 1987), the cartoonist
> Jamal A. Kleibo, tourism developer
> Abdel Mohsin Al-Qattan, founder A.M. Qattan Foundation
> Mohammed Marwan, Rap star
> Rima Merriman, university teacher
> Maysoon Zayid, actress and stand up comedian
> Rami G. Khoury, journalist and columnist
> Dr. Ayman Rabi, environmentalist
> Nasser Soumi, painter and installation artist
> Elia Suleiman, filmmaker
> Emily Jacir, filmmaker
> Michel Khleifi – Palestine’s Film Poet
> Mai Masri, filmmaker
> Sami Mustaklem, fireman
> Yusuf Diya’ al-Khalidi (1842-1906), mayor of...
> Omar Saleh Barghouti-historian, politician and lawyer
> Abdul Malik Al-Jaber, CEO
> William Nicodeme, composer
> Hossam Zuheika, puppeteer
> Adel Salameh, musician
Jerusalem in the Heart
My memory goes back in time to almost 25 years ago, when I was a student at the Collège des Frères in Jerusalem and had the best time of my life. I was at home among my parents, relatives, friends, and beloved ones and I was healthy, young and irresponsible. Then, the day came to say goodbye to all this and start looking for a better future, sadly away from Jerusalem, my beloved hometown.
I headed to Switzerland to study Hotel Management as I had always loved this domain and felt I could give the best of myself in this profession lovingly and cheerfully. The minute I landed there I felt the difference right away. How warm and spontaneous we are and how cold and conservative the people over there were, in spite of all the beauty and breathtaking nature that engulfed me. Ever since that time my nostalgia for Jerusalem increased the farther away from Jerusalem I went.
After graduation, I headed home to settle there and find a job. To my disappointment I could not find suitable employment opportunities. This was true of many others of my age at the time. I was offered the possibility of working in the Emirates but in a different field altogether. I accepted unwillingly in order to earn my living and support myself. During the first few years of working abroad I used to return home twice a year and whenever it was time to leave Jerusalem I always felt I was leaving behind a big piece of my heart. Later I got married to a lady who is half Palestinian and half Lebanese and thought - and dreamt - that we will go one day to live together in my beloved Jerusalem. Twenty years on, this dream has yet to come true.
My pain and agony started when we had our first baby girl. When she became seven months old, I had to take her all alone to Jerusalem to have her registered on my ID card. The same thing had to be done with my second daughter some 15 months later. This time I had to carry two infants, one of whom was still not weaned from her mother’s breastfeeding. I could see her needing her mother but I had to endure this endless pain to have her registered and bring her back safely to her mother. I was not able to enjoy my time in Jerusalem when my wife was left back in Abu Dhabi, anxiously awaiting the return of her two girls. (My wife, having left Palestine before 1967, could not come back to her homeland at will following the Israeli occupation of the rest of Palestine that year. I have to go through a lengthy and time-consuming process to get her a permit that allows her to come to Jerusalem for a visit.)
Now I wonder how I had the guts and courage to do all this. I remember that I resolved not to put my third child through the same agony, even if this meant losing its Jerusalem ID card. Anyhow, this was not to be as we did not have another child.
The days go by and my girls have blossomed into little ladies. I try my best to inculcate in them the feeling that they belong to this holy place emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I recall when I used to put them to sleep all my stories were about Jerusalem, my childhood, my friends, my parents, my school, my teachers, and my endless love for Jerusalem, its streets, trees, flowers, and even its stones. I used to let them imagine smelling the summer breeze and feel the chilly wind in winter and to imagine the snow falling and making snow balls and see the Christmas tree decorated with lights and colourful balls. I think I managed to instil in them the same love I have for Jerusalem.
As for myself, until this instant I cherish the memory of walking in the rain in Jerusalem’s streets, with the strong wind blowing against my face, and the lovely autumn when the leaves fall down and the trees become naked and everything becomes almost grey. Not to forget spring with its wonderful smells and the flowering trees everywhere. When snow fell we were off from school and that is really something to remember. I sometimes count the many Eid Adha, Ramadan, Christmas and New Year’s eve; the many times my parents or brothers fell sick; the dear ones I lost; and I was not there to be with them, this hurts a lot.
For the past seven years now I have been working in the field where I belong, tourism. As the Regional Marketing Manager for the Gulf and Middle East of the DCT Swiss Hotel Management School and the region of Lucerne, I get to travel a lot and I am exposed to many different cultures. For the past two years I have been hosting a show on Arabian Travel TV. This affords me the chance to meet celebrities, artists, decision-makers, politicians, etc. All this exposure, however, has not diminished my love for Jerusalem, which I keep in my heart. It only saddens me that all this is happening to me while I am away from home, this beautiful place where the sun shines differently, the moon light is different, and the taste of the food differs from anything I have tasted elsewhere in the world. On every occasion I have I announce proudly and loudly that I am a Jerusalemite.
The constant dream I have is to return to Jerusalem to settle there for good. There is no other place I would want to spend the rest of my life. I think this is the dream that keeps all diaspora Palestinians going. One day …
Jamal A. Kleibo is presently the Regional Marketing Manager for the Gulf and Middle East of the DCT Swiss Hotel Management School and the region of Lucerne. He has been living in the Gulf countries since 1984. Mr. Kleibo can be reached at email@example.com.
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