Gaza native reflects on childhood, war

Melissa Dilley

Nasser Abualnour, who was born in Gaza and moved from Palestine to Akron in 2006, spoke last night in the Kiva about the issues of Palestine and Israel. Jessica M. Kanalas | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Students and locals gathered in the Kiva last night, some women wearing the traditional Muslim hijabs and a few men with Jewish yarmulkes placed on their heads.

In Israel or Palestine, these two groups may not have been able to sit in a room together and discuss the current conflict between the neighboring states without violence involved.

As part of the Kent State Anti-War Committee’s Palestinian Awareness Week, Gaza native Nasser Abualnour spoke about his life in Palestine and his personal experience with violence and terrorism.

Abualnour, who moved to America to attend Akron University on a scholarship, demonstrated his first experience with violence by telling a story about the death of his father and two uncles.

“In the 1967 war, my father and two uncles were playing cards at my godfather’s house,” Abualnour said. “Israeli soldiers knocked at the door and told my godfather he (they) wanted to see them for only five minutes.”

Two days later, neighbors came to tell Abualnour’s godfather that the three men were shot to death just a few miles from the house.

After his father’s death, Abualnour said he knew he had to salvage his life, even amongst the destruction around him.

“I remember my mother holding my hand and asking, ‘Will I be alive to see this hand become a man’s?’ She wanted to see me grow up.”

Abualnour went to nursing school and got a job at a local hospital, one that he says now uses medical coats and hospital curtains as bandages for the wounded.

After nursing, he was a lecturer at the Islamic University. Abualnour left the University for Ohio in 2006, shortly after it was destroyed in the warfare.

Although he has two wives and thirteen children, Abualnour has not been back to visit his relatives in Palestine since his move. He said he calls his family every chance he gets before morning prayer.

“When I call my family, the first thing I ask is ‘Are you still alive?’ If I can’t speak with them, I can’t even open a book to study because I am too concerned,” he said.

Martha Katz, a member of the Coalition for Peace in the Middle East, spoke after Abualnour about the importance of American knowledge about the conflict.

While Katz said she believes Israel is mostly to blame for the deaths and destruction, she also said it’s always important to hear the other side.

“I’m against violence and terrorism against civilians on both sides,” Katz said. “I think it’s important the American government and people know both sides completely.”

Contact student politics reporter Melissa Dilley at [email protected].