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Suad Amiry's Life in Palestine under Occupation

Suad Amiry's Book on Life in Palestine under Occupation Exposes Israeli Crazy-Makers

By Genevieve Cora Fraser

Suad Amiry is an amazing woman. I recently met her at the RIWAQ Headquarters where she co-directs the Palestinian Centre for Architectural Conservation. There she takes on the air of a military general, but instead of developing a campaign of destruction and exploitation; she painstakingly directs gathering architectural data on and photos of historic and current records of Palestinian homes, market places, cultural and religious sites and communities - some thousands of years old.

For Amiry, the enemy is not your typical urban blight but rather the 36 billion dollar, US funded, military might of Israel that audaciously demolishes homes, communities, antiquities and refugee camps as well as lives throughout Palestine. Israel is involved in a campaign against anything Arab (as opposed to Jewish) some sympathetic Israeli scholars explain. Amiry's job is to document that heritage and restore it whenever possible, even though she cannot protect it.

Amiry's personal life is also a daily battle under Israeli occupation. In her autobiographical, "Sharon and My Mother-in-Law: Ramallah Diaries," just released in English by Granta, London, Amiry's comic-tragedy takes the reader on a dizzying journey through growing up as a member of the Palestinian Diaspora to her later commitment to the prison-like existence as a Palestinian professor, wife and activist living in Ramallah.

In this ever-cruel, Theater of the Absurd existence members of free societies in the world would never tolerate, Amiry's quick paced prose exposes the brute insensitive and oftentimes lethal actions of the Israeli crazy-makers that dominate every moment of Palestinian existence. But our heroine though victimized is not a victim, spontaneous and outrageous she takes on her would-be jailors with wit and style and farcical antics worthy of comic greats such as Charlie Chaplin engaged in mocking egregious breaches of man's profoundly disturbing inhumanity to man.

Born in Damascus in 1951 to Palestinian parents who fled Jaffa in 1948, her father was a Jordanian ambassador and her mother ran a printing press. Upon acquiring a degree in architecture in Beirut, in 1981 she accepted a job at Birzeit University, outside of Ramallah. In 1991, she was a member of the Palestinian delegation at the Washington peace negotiations, and in 1996, she was made deputy minister of culture in the first Palestinian government. In 2003, Amiry co-edited a gripping pictorial and essay record of the Israeli 2002 Re-Occupation, "Earthquake in April."

Though not yet released in America, "Sharon and My Mother-in-Law" has been translated into 11 languages and has won the prestigious Viareggio prize in Italy. Unable to purchase the book in America, I was able to easily access it from's UK website. It is also available through their Canadian website.


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