- Published on Tuesday, 12 June 2012 14:48
By Leila Sansour
As a child growing up in Bethlehem, I was entrusted with burning all the political books in my father's library whenever there was an Israeli raid. Now my city is surrounded by walls and ring-fenced by more than forty Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land.
It is 45 years since Israel invaded the West Bank, including my hometown of Bethlehem; practically the whole of my lifetime. I have not known my city under any state except Israeli occupation.
A year ago, looking at a photo album of an old friend and neighbor, I became acutely aware of how alien his experience of Middle Eastern geography was to me. In the mid-Fifties, he would spend Saturday nights jitterbugging at the Everest, a restaurant coolly positioned on top of the highest hill in Bethlehem, and, at dawn, would drive to Beirut to continue the party.
Today, this experience is unimaginable. The Middle East of his youth no longer exists. For those under 30, the Middle East I once knew does not exist, either. So much has changed in these 45 years.
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