If you accuse me of hopping from topic to topic in a seemingly uncoordinated manner – I am guilty as charged. The story I will tell you though does not tolerate any delay, it killed my nightsleep and kept me tossing and turning throughout the nighthours while racking my brain in search of anything I can do to possibly help. I am talking about a very dear friend of mine – Sam Bahour – who is happily married to Abeer and both are proud parents of two daughters, Areen (12) and Nadine(6). They have a lovely apartment in el-Bire, adjacent to Ramallah where Sam is a successful businessman. It all sounds alright and you may ask “where’s the point?”. I will answer your question in a moment … let me upfront just ask you the following:

It is your opinion that a child growing up in an intact family like Sam’s has the right to be accompanied throughout childhood by BOTH parents? Well, you better think again and … do you happen to assumed till now, family ties are something nobody from outside has the right to destroy? Ok, you’ve got to reconsider that as well. This all WAS the case – till the Israeli Government headed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert decided to alter these rights, deprive children of having a father and rip apart what God had blessed.

To get to the point – Sam was given notice some two months ago, he would not get any further extension of his tourist-visa which he, as holder of dual citizenship (Palestinian/American), had to renew every three months and sees himself confronted with the worst possible scenario – he is being forced to leave the country and thus his wife and children! He needs to do so tomorrow, Sunday, 1.10. 2006.
I need to add at this point that an application for family-reunification Sam filed some thirteen years ago, was simply dropped, thus never even dealt with. As law-abiding person, Sam did all those years as ordered and left every three month only in order to re-enter and get another three months worth permission for to stay with this family .. till now.

I let Sam introduce himself …

“I was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio and studied Computer Technology at Youngstown State University. While in the US, I was employed in several national software development firms, all working in the direct marketing industry.
I relocated with my family, one daughter at the time, to Palestine from the United States in 1995 to assist in the privatization of the Palestinian telecommunications sector. I was part of the core team that established the Palestine Telecommunications Company and served as PALTEL’s first Director of Information Systems after successfully participating in securing a 20-year fixed line and mobile operator’s license for PALTEL from the Palestinian National Authority.
Upon returning to Palestine, I earned a MBA degree from the joint international program from Northwestern and Tel Aviv Universities. I thought, and still think, it is critical that we learn more about our Israeli neighbors, and academia provides a neutral ground for this to happen since the only Israelis most Palestinians know are soldiers militarily occupying all aspects of their daily life.
After resigning from PALTEL, I subsequently established a private business, the first ICT-specific consulting firm in Palestine in the fall of 1997, Applied Information Management In parallel, I served as MIS Manager for the Arab Palestinian Investment Company, the second largest private sector investment group in Palestine and founded the Palestine Diaspora Investment Company (PDIC) in the spring of 2000.
Until recently I served as General Manager of the Arab Palestinian Shopping Centers P.L.C., a publicly-traded subsidiary of the Arab Palestinian Investment Company in which I led from concept to IPO to operations. This is a project I am very proud of. It is the first of a chain of modern shopping centers in Palestine – the first, the PLAZA Shopping Center, opened in July 2003 in Al-Bireh in the midst of the most difficult economic times Palestine has ever faced under Israeli occupation.
I also am currently a Board member at the of Arab Islamic Bank and the a Board of Trustees member at Birzeit University.”

Apart of the human catastrophe from which, sadly enough, Sam is not the only one to suffer – as a matter of fact there are thousands in just the same situation – the negative impact in particular on the children is immense and a far-reaching traumatisation unavoidable.

Sam’s elder daughter Areen had to write a paper with the title “A night in heaven“, describing how she would imagine that to be. Have a look … and kindly consider Areen lives in the West Bank and NOT in Gaza where the situation is not only significantly worse but as well mostly unreported by the media! I ask you to read Dr. Mona el-Farra’s blog for to receive accurate updartes you most likely won’t find anywhere else. She is physician by training and a human rights and women’s rights activist by practice. Her link: http://fromgaza.blogspot.com/ She does give you the REAL picture!

Get an idea now how a 12-year old girl imagines one day in heaven … and don’t miss to read between the lines. Her speech speaks volumes to the burden that Israel’s occupation is putting on Palestine’s children!


I woke up that day to the sounds of the singing birds. I opened my eyes and I was not in my room! I walked out of that strange room and found myself in a palace with my family. I asked if I can go walk outside and my parents replied yes without thinking, unlike always.

I went out and walked and walked, all what I saw around me was green fields and green streets, all with trees and different kinds of flowers. It was a clean place with no pollution.

No one stopped me because I am Palestinian. I found out that I was in heaven. Where there is no occupation, no borders, and no walls in your way. It was a place where you don’t need any visa to be renewed to stay in. No one was worried. It was a place where everyone was friendly. There were no people sitting in those green streets asking for money. Everyone was living peacefully.

There, where you can’t find anyone screaming or crying or annoying others. Everything was organized as if this strange world was controlled by a remote or a computer.

Then, I opened my eyes to the sound that was waking me up. It was my younger sister. I realized it was all a dream. I wished I didn’t wake up from this dream for the rest of my life, and remained in that place where I can live in peace, in a smiling world, where everyone cares about you, where there is no racism, and where you feel like a bird flying in a free world.

All what I mentioned was what heaven really looks like in my eyes.

Areen Bahour
Class 7C, Friends School
September 24, 2006

Sam, dear friend, in case you read this, I wish I could do so much more for you and prevent the four of you from having to go through this nightmare! I wonder how Mr. Olmert would have felt … he’s a father too – had someone forced him to desert his family with his kids being at the age of Areen and Nadine! We all know he doesn’t care. But at the same time he forgets that ALL these children in the West Bank and Gaza are YOUR and, if he likes it or not, as well HIS future … and they will not forget, nor forgive!



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