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Bateel Skycraper

 

Love Knows No Boundary

Love Knows No Boundary

Issue 87 December 2011

Married for seven years, Raya and Issam live in two houses, divided by a border and checkpoints. Despite their daily struggles, both are committed to show their children love for all people.

 

Raya

 

I was first introduced to Issam through a mutual friend of ours, whilst I was working as a consultant to an international NGO here in Palestine. My first impression of Issam was that he was shy, but seemed headstrong and very kind.


After only a few meetings amidst our mutual friends, we decided to get married. Our wedding preparations were complicated to say the least. As I’m a Palestinian from the 1948 territories, and Issam from 1967 (the West Bank area), going back and forth to do ordinary things like introduce one another to family and friends became a life gamble. Without a permit, Issam could not visit my family and friends in Haifa, which made the wedding preparations near enough impossible.


By the grace of God, however, we managed and have now been married for seven years. Like every other couple, we have our disagreements — relationships are complicated, and day-to-day problems are something everyone has to deal with. The situation here in Palestine and our desire to live in peace is an added daily struggle that we help one another get through. Our family is torn between two sides of our country; Issam remains in the West Bank — Qatannah village, and my children and I live in East Jerusalem, as they go to school there. It can be an exhausting week to say the least: ensuring that we all get home at the same time, then eat, spend some time together, and then preparing to return to Jerusalem the next day for work. Read More

 

Issam

 

Having been introduced by a mutual friend who worked with Raya, my first impression was that she was an incredibly committed and hard working individual. She took her work very seriously, and approached everything with focus and passion.


When we decided to get married, we knew it wouldn’t be an easy task. As the groom, I felt responsible for everything. I was initially adamant that I wanted to host a small party, getting all our friends and family together to celebrate our engagement. But Raya refused — reiterating how difficult and potentially dangerous it could be for me.


She was aware of the humiliating experiences others had had attempting to cross checkpoints, and she refused to risk that possibility for me. Despite my insistence, she refused to let me proceed. It was then that I realised no engagement party could ever illustrate to my loved ones how lucky I was to be marrying someone so wonderfully thoughtful and considerate.


Married life is difficult for everyone to get used to. That’s why it’s imperative to really think about the kind of qualities you’re seeking in a partner. For us to maintain a stable life here in Palestine, I needed someone strong and grounded. But marriage is all about learning and adapting to change. One thing I’ve learnt for certain is that the Occupation can’t stand between two people whom God has put together with the intention to love one another, and start a family.


What I admire most about Raya is how courageous and confident she is. She ensures that our children live with pride, and respect one another as well as those around them. She illustrates on a day-to-day basis that respect for all human beings, even those who appear against us, is the most important thing because in the end, the good always win no matter what.


I wouldn’t necessarily say that marriage has changed me, but the birth of our first child most certainly did. I’ll never forget how I waited in a forest near my village for a taxi to bring my wife and our newborn son home. The Israeli government wouldn’t allow me to be beside my wife during her delivery. Read More

 

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