Sunday, October 12, 2014

George Deek: My family's story in 1948 - fleeing Jaffa, building a future in Israel

George Deek, a Christian Arab from Jaffa is now Israel's deputy consul to Norway. The Deeks are one of the oldest families in the ancient city of Jaffa and have lived there for 400 years. Their  extraordinary story is well worth hearing.

In 1948, the Deek family fled their homes, along with 711,000 others, urged on by the Arab leadership than had promised to swiftly defeat the Jews in the nascent state of Israel  Yet that victory never happened, and the Deeks  remained scattered. That scattering is known as the "Nakba"

From George Deek:

"The Nakba has been transformed from a humanitarian disaster to a political offensive. The commemoration of the Nakba is no longer about remembering what happened but about resenting the mere existence  of the state of Israel... They do not mourn the fact that my cousins are Jordanians. They mourn the fact that I am Israeli. By doing so, the Palestinians have become slaves to the past. "

He asks, "Why is it that my relatives in Canada are Canadian citizens while my relatives in Syria, Lebanon or the Gulf countries who have been born there are and know no other home are still considered refugees? Clearly the treatment of the Palestinians in the Arab countries is the greatest oppression they experience anywhere....Israel was one of the few countries that automatically gave full citizenship and equality for all the Palestinians in it after 1948 and we see the results. Despite all the challenges the Arab citizens of Israel built a future. Israeli Arabs are the most educated in the world with the best living standards and opportunities in the region."

Georges' grandparents arrived in Lebanon,  and soon realized they had been lied to. The Arabs had not won the war, but neither had they been slaughtered by the victorious Jews.  Grandfather George had  worked with many Jews, and even spoke Yiddish. He was able to return to Israel to his old job. Today, among the Deek descendants in Israel there are accountants, teachers,  high tech engineers, university professors, diplomats and doctors

Listen to the story of the Deek family. Its worth hearing, and worth sharing.

He concludes with a vision of tolerance and reconciliation for both people

"Jews and Palestinians. We might not be brothers in faith, but we are certainly brothers in fate making the right choices and choosing to focus on our future we can redeem our past"

A full transcript of George Deek's speech is available here

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