Palestine’s first captain, now involved in FIFA integration projects, tells EL MUNDO: Israel hid in an ambulance to avoid the ‘checkpoint’
Toxic people look at the sun, but there is always night in it. honey thaljieh It was born under the scorching sun, but justice has never been done in the Middle East, which this morning gave a small truce to the World Cup in Corniche in Doha. The night took the lives of loved ones in the West Bank occupied by the first and second Intifadas, but the girl born in 1984 in Bethlehem would find a means to free herself from all obstacles. An Arab, Palestinian and Christian woman faced all the contradictions in her own society, her family’s prohibitions, rumors among her neighbors that she would never marry, and ‘checkpoints’ – checkpoints of the Israeli army. The first captain of the Palestinian women’s team, her injuries were not the only thing stopping her career, but the traditions of the world she lived in, but as she explained in a conversation with EL MUNDO, this gave her the opportunity to prepare and became the first woman to win a medal. FIFA Master and Work for the organization in the development of integration projects.
To ask.- You laugh a lot at everything that happens.
Reaction.- They all tell me. The truth is, I’ve always been like this. Now when I return to Bethlehem and see all the boys and girls playing football, it is my father who laughs. It was different before.
R.- My parents didn’t want me to play. He forbade me, but even though I had to play with the children, I went back and forth on the street. The neighbors said I would never marry. He embarrassed everyone. I don’t blame them. I grew up in a patriarchal society. Even though he was a Christian, not a Muslim, football was men’s business. As a woman and an Arab it was even worse because it threatened all stereotypes. Finally, as a Palestinian in the occupied territories, you found all possible problems in the streets full of soldiers, with bullets, barricades, fires, bombs… All these conditions formed my identity, turned into a prison, a prison. I asked myself: Why should identity determine your life? When he wanted to play football but couldn’t, he would say to me: Why wasn’t I born in Switzerland instead of Palestine?
Q.- How did he escape?
A. – I did not flee. I am a woman, I am an Arab, I am a Palestinian and I am a Christian. Simply put, I am liberated because of the power that football has given me throughout my life.
Q.- So you protect your entire identity.
R.- More strongly, of course, with pride, but without implying a prison. Even though I am not a Muslim but a Christian, people from outside often ask me if I wear a bikini or drink alcohol. They are the typical ones. Arab identity goes far beyond whether Muslims drink or not.
Q.- But it’s hard to think of a Women’s World Cup in an Arab country, for example. Do you think this is possible as we live in Qatar?
R.- Why? I do. You are from Spain where Real Madrid did not have a women’s team until recently…
R.- I think the problem with women’s football in the Arab world is not purely religious, it’s cultural, and this happens in many other places. Sometimes the problem is simpler: a father forbidding his daughter to play, and this continues to happen in all cultures. We still live in patriarchal societies. The world is not perfect.
Q.- This World Cup is an example. We have seen many protests defending human rights.
R.- Much has been said in the negative sense and little has been said about the positive aspects of bringing a World Cup to Arab culture. Football has a power that needs to be used, it can help improve people’s lives, cause change. I’ve experienced this in mine.
Q.- Now he explains it whenever he gets the chance.
R.- I travel the world with projects. I did this a while ago in your country, at the Arab House in Madrid.
Q – How easy is it to cross the Palestinian world?
R.- I don’t think anyone has lost as much contact at airports as I do because Palestinians are waiting to show their passports. Clocks and watches.
Q.- At least they are no longer ‘checkpoints’.
R.- The worst day for this was the day I had to take the high school exam, which is a very important day for all students in Palestine. It’s an anecdote I tell often. I was very nervous and during the Intifada it was a day when there was a lot of trouble and control in the streets. There was no way to get through, so I called an ambulance and asked if he could hide me inside. Upon entering, it was packed with other students. We came very tense, tense, the exam went wrong, and many of us started crying. The professor raised his hand and quoted Yasser Arafat. “We Palestinians are like mountains,” he said. Even the wind does not move us.
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