Nadine eats Pizza in Ramallah,
By Sam Bahour
[Sam Bahour is one of
the biggest Palestinians I’ve ever met. American-raised, almost
two metre tall, built to last, the owner and manager of the
first ever mall in Ramallah, and a very pleasant man. Here he
writes about yesterday’s Israeli raid in Ramallah as seen
through the eyes of his 6 years old daughter – not a
tear-squeezer but a human interest charming piece of battlefield
wanted to write this last night but was exhausted from playing
umpteen hands of the card game UNO with my 6 year old daughter,
Nadine (pic attached).Why this card frenzy, especially given I
hate playing cards? Well, we were in the center of Ramallah
yesterday afternoon, at 3:40pm when the almighty Israeli
military decided, again, that it was time to wreak havoc on our
city. I should not really complain since what happened in
Ramallah yesterday happens across the West Bank and Gaza
regularly. Nevertheless, I will make an issue about it and urge
every Palestinian, in every city, to make an issue about every
Israeli infraction on our lives.
Yesterday I was extremely
busy all day and had a dinner appointment with a serious venture
capitalist in Jerusalem in the evening, so I agreed with my wife
and girls that since I would not be home all day and night, that
I'd pick them up at 3:30 sharp and we would go for a late lunch.
We haven't been out much given all of the infighting lately so
my girls were thrilled. I rushed home at 3:30 to pick them up
and found my daughters dressed to kill. To them, this was a
serious outing after a long holiday break which was spent mostly
at home. The restaurant they had as first choice was closed due
to the holidays, so they reverted to their favorite popular
place, Angelo's Pizzeria, for those that know it.
Angelo's Pizzeria is on the
main street in Ramallah, a few hundred meters from Lion's
Circle, the smack middle of town where you saw on the news
Israeli bulldozers destroying cars last night. I parked on the
Friends Girls School road which is behind the restaurant. As
soon as I exited the car I felt something was wrong. As we
walked into the restaurant I looked up and could see an Israeli
gunship helicopter hovering overhead firing at some unknown
target. We thought it would be safer to enter the restaurant
rather than return home.
The restaurant was full
with most tables nervous at the sound of gunfire from overhead.
The waiters, who have been through this dozens of times, visited
the tables and played and joked with the kids. They knew that
things were not right and went out of their way to make life
normal, at least while we were their customers. The restaurant
manager, a friend, came to our table and asked me for my car
keys. He wanted to move my car because word came that the
Israeli jeeps and armored vehicles that were operating in town
were crushing cars parked on the side of the road. He found my
car already in a safe spot and reassured us that this will pass
soon. He knows, he has lived this reality every day for 40 years
We ordered a pizza and
salad and Nadine insisted that Angelo's Pizzeria has the best
hamburgers in town and wanted one as well so she ordered one
herself. As we sat, things outside were clearly deteriorating. I
got a call on my cellular hone from my dad back in Youngstown,
Ohio. He asked where we are because no one answered at home. He
briefed me on the live reports he was watching about what was
happening outside the restaurant door. After talking with my
father, I made frequent visits to the restaurant door to view
people rushing away from the city center. While I was standing
at the door, a friend of mine had finished eating with his wife
and 4 kids and stood at the door contemplating to leave to cross
the street to his car. I kept a lookout and gave him the all
clear as he rushed his family across the street to his car and
he was off. At this stage, I knew it was not only military
activity overhead but something very close by.
The salad showed up in no
time and we enjoyed it. Then the famous hamburger followed and
then our pizza. All the time my wife was trying to make phone
contact with her sister who we invited to join us but never
showed up. She wanted to make sure she was ok given all the
shooting and commotion outside. My older daughter, Areen, was a
bit nervous, wondering how we were going to get back home. We
reassured her that all would be fine. In reality, we had no
Forty minutes later, my
wife, Abeer, Areen and I had finished eating and were ready to
go. Nadine, was happily, and very slowly, enjoying her
world-class hamburger and fries while every so often reassuring
us. " They come, shoot, arrest, and leave...so what's the
problem? When they leave, we will go home, right dad?"
"So what's the problem?"!
The problem is how can a 6 year old calmly sit through a
mini-war happening outside the restaurant while enthusiastically
devouring a hamburger without the slightest hint of being
Nadine finally finished and
we headed home. Luckily we were parked in the opposite direction
of the shooting, so we drove the wrong way down a one way street
and headed home. On the way, taxis were rushing about, driving
worse than usual, shuttling people away from the center of
Ramallah. When we got near our home we had to cross the
Jerusalem-Ramallah road. Looking left about 200 meters away my
girls yelled out that the IDF was blocking the street. I glanced
and it was a mess. Jeeps all over, rocks filled the street,
behind the jeeps I could see the open market was full of
We finally got home. Turned
on CNN, nothing! Switched to Jazeerah and they had live pictures
of what was happening and the extent of it - another Israeli
invasion into Ramallah. An undercover Israeli hit team tried to
arrest someone and were exposed and came under Palestinian fire.
They called in re-enforcements and all the lone rangers came
running (and shooting and plowing).
I was contemplating with my
wife if I should risk heading to Jerusalem later in the evening.
We agreed to wait and see how it develops given the news reports
started to say the IDF was completing their operations and
leaving the city center (only to move back to their permanent
position of surrounding our city).
I went to check my email
and cancel a radio interview appointment with CBC that I missed
because of this mess. This is when Nadine came and asked if I
could accompany her to the bathroom. She never asks to be
accompanied. The bathroom in our small flat is literally 1 meter
from my computer and 3 meters from the living room where Abeer
was watching the news and Areen was letting Grandma Sarah in
Youngstown know we were all home and ok.
I immediately understood
and gladly accompanied Nadine and even made it a fun trip. Then
I cancelled all my appointments that evening and spent the rest
of the night doing exactly what Nadine asked for - to play UNO.
We played alone, with Areen, as a family, and then alone again,
multiple times. When bedtime came she kissed me good night and
headed to her room along with her sister as usual - no escort. I
felt that UNO therapy had worked. I may even claim for a new
deck of UNO on my health insurance policy.
My friends, I write this
not to bore you with one family's experience during 2 hours of
occupation, but rather to scream to the world that we need your
4 Palestinian civilians
were killed last night in this attack, 20 were injured, 5 of
them seriously. I have no statistics on the number of children,
like Nadine, whose skin become thicker during this latest
Israel has lost her way and
the US is Palestinian-blind. Israel is creating yet another
generation of Palestinians that are more numb to their military
occupation than any other. Likewise, it is creating a generation
of Israeli occupiers that see my city as the wild, wild, west.
It is stripping children, Palestinian and Israeli, of their
childhood. It must stop and NOW. We need your active support:
Organize locally, at your
church, community center, union, etc. Support Jimmy Carter's
stance against Israeli Apartheid. Read his book. Write letters.
Visit and engage your representatives. Demand public statements.
Sponsor a Palestinian student. Invest in Palestine. Request
Angelo's Pizzeria start exporting hamburgers by express mail.
and most importantly, play UNO with your kids.
Braced for the 4 funerals
that will start in 3 hours, Sam
[The funniest thing about
yesterday’s raid was the response of Mahmoud Abbas who said that
Israeli government proved it is not interested in peace. Thank
you for these tidings, Mr Abbas!]