Munjid and Wafa Hinnawi - Part 2, October 7, 2018

Dublin Core


Munjid and Wafa Hinnawi - Part 2, October 7, 2018


Arab Americans-Ohio


Wafa and Munjid speak about the First Intifada and September 11, 2001. The interview was conducted in Pickerington, Ohio


Interviewers: Jimmy Fennessey, Hanada Al-Masri
Interviewees: Wafa and Munjid




October 7, 2018


Dr. Hanada Al-Masri, project director
Hannah Bennett, filming
Cheryl A Johnson, online presentation of the digital materials


Arab-American Project by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.




English and Arabic


Oral History

Oral History Item Type Metadata


James Fennessey
Hanada Al-Masri




Pickerington, Ohio


ج: عندي اسئلة عن فلسطين وعن الوضع في فلسطين. كيف الوضع في فلسطين خلال الانتفاضة الأولى، كيف الوضع؟

Wafa: Ok, well, like I said previously the First Intifada was like really something new for all Palestinian people. We used to have like problems ... stuff going on once in a while between, you know, the Israeli people and the Palestinian. But, it wasn't that bad. We were able to go to Jerusalem, to Al-Aqsa Mosque and pray if we want to and almost everyday. Um, Friday prayers was open, but as soon as the intifada started, like I said, a lot of killing, a lot of dead people from both sides; but, Palestinian more because they had no weapons. The only weapon that was available is just rocks. Sometimes, maybe knives in case; but, they never got in like really close contact. So, they had weapons [the Israelis] and they used to just fire against, you know, Palestinian people. They closed, as I said, they closed the schools, universities, transportation between, you know, cities. They would put checkpoints to prevent from going. Like, let's say I have relatives in Nablus or in Hebron, people were not able to communicate or see each other and it kept getting worse and worse. Of course, it's still the same right now; now Jerusalem is blocked. If you carry a Palestinian - if you're carrying a U.S. passport but you're carrying a Palestinian passport, still you're not allowed to enter Jerusalem; it's blocked. If you are under the age of 55, you're not allowed. Yeah, you can't. Even though if you give them your American passport, and show them that 'okay I'm carrying an American passport, can I go?' No, you have a (هوية) or ID , a Palestinian passport so we treat you as Palestinian, not American.But on the other hand, if you are like a U.S. citizen, born here, like my kids, and they don't have an ID, or my husband, he's Jordanian but, he never had a Palestinian ID or a Palestinian passport. When he enters Palestine, he's fine, he's respected, he's welcomed, no issues, no questions asked; you can go to Jerusalem, you can do whatever you want, because of your American passport. But on the other hand, I have a sister who lives there but she has an American passport, but she has a Palestinian passport also. She cannot go to Jerusalem at all, at all! You have to apply for a special permission from the Israeli government in order for you to go and they give you a permission maybe for one day, maybe for three days, maybe for a week. It depends. If they like you or see that you're like okay he's fine okay we give him like three days or no you're rejected you can't. So it's up to them, basically they control everything. They control the borders, they control the airport, and now none of the Palestinian people who have a Palestinian passport allowed to go to Ben Gurion Airport. Which is Tel Aviv. They're not, not allowed. They have to go through like what they call it, something really really horrible because they have to go to Jordan first and then you have to go through all the Jordanian airport and everything and then drive from Jordan, from Amman Airport, to Jericho where the border is and then cross the border and it's like, um, um really really tough because it takes you sometimes six, seven hours just sitting in the buses waiting for them to open up, you ...

Munjid: Very hot. Very hot.

W [continued]: to open and say--. and you know Jericho? how hot it is, very hot there. Sometimes they keep people in the bus for six, seven hours. And they'll be like just sitting there doing nothing. Whatever they feel like they want to let that bus go, they'll let them in and then you have to go through their security, their checkpoints, and then after that you have to go past the Palestinian security, and the Palestinian check-up in Jericho and then go to your destination, where you want to go.

Hanada: So, in spite of all of this, you still go back and visit.

W: Yes. Yes! [enthusiastically]!

H: Why?

W: Because it's my country, it's my land. They will never, they will never take me out from there. They will never delete my roots, this is my roots. That's my country. That's my place. Those are my olive trees, that's my house, my family's house, they will never. Every year when I go to Jordan, I still cross the border and take my kids, my husband, and go. My kids visited Jerusalem every time I go. We go everyday to Jerusalem. They pray in Al-Aqsa. They know their roots. They know my village, where I grew up. They know their dad's village where their dad grew up and they will still, even though we are all American citizen and we carry the American passport, but we are Palestinians and we are proud of our origin and our country because that's our land. They keep saying it is their land. It's not, it's not! And they keep saying Palestinian people are killing Israeli people when they're fighting. How you feel if you are sitting in your house and somebody comes and kick you out and take over your house that you've built and you've been living all your life in it? How would you feel? Right? It's really tough, and the problem is the media all over the world, does not show all this. I have a lot of American friends, a lot of very nice friends, a lot of neighbors that they're really nice. When I moved to this neighborhood, my next door neighbor, she didn't even know anything about Palestine. She knew Israel; she just said Israel. I sat with her for probably at least 4 hours, and I explained to her everything and she was shocked. She was in tears. She was like [incomplete sentence] 'you know what --' - I showed her videos. I showed her a lot of videos, a lot of YouTube, a lot. I was like 'here, just look at this' and she was in tears. She was like 'you know what, we're blocked here, we don't see anything, we don't see the real world'. They think Palestinian people like killing, or like fighting? No, we love peace, we love to live in peace, you know. A lot of people, if you look around and see the whole world, you'll find Palestinian in every single country. Why? Because they're running away. A lot of people they can't, they can't stay there. But still, even if we live like 20, 30, 40 years abroad, we still want to go back to our country. It's our country, it's our land, it's our spot.

H: So moving back and forth in time, you are Palestinian Arab-American at the same time. Could you please talk about the challenges that you've faced as an Arab-American?

‎ه: [الى منجد] ونفس السؤال: ما هي التحديات التي تواجه العرب الأمريكيين في أمريكا الآن؟

W: Okay, well, since I moved honestly, the first challenge that we faced was the language. Language barrier. You will be like when you come here-- we learn English, we learned English in schools. But, we learned like the British English. You know, like the real real like accent and real English language. And we will come here and say like we will hear somebody say "water" [wad-der] and we will be like 'what is he saying?'

M: (Laugh)

W: You know? Honestly, like what? Water? [wad-der?] We say 'wa-ter', you know, 'Wat-ter' (emphasis on the T in water). Because this is how we learned it. So that was one of like the challenges that we faced, that I faced, when we moved here. I could still understand most of that language but it was kind of really tough at the beginning. But, once you know I got involved with work and started studying and-- I, you know, I got it, so -- it was-- it got easier and easier. Like, the first year, when I moved here absolutely it's not like today, after like 25 years. One of like the biggest challenge that I faced was September 11. We got married, me and him, we got married September 9th, 2001, Sunday.

M: Two days before September 11.

W: And it was in Chicago, our wedding was in Chicago. September 11, of course Tuesday, and I had off work for like three weeks because of the wedding and that week was a horrible week. We, I - I couldn't leave the house, because in Chicago, because it's not like Columbus. I did not have anything in Columbus, but in Chicago because there was a lot of Arabic people, a lot of Muslim committee, they got attacked. Like in Walgreens, at school, in grocery stores-- a lot of Muslim people - ladies, got attacked. Either verbal, or people will snatch their headscarves, call them really nasty words ... so that week was really horrible, because we just stayed home. We didn't want to go anywhere, because we were so scared because people just got the idea that Muslim did it. A Muslim did it, you know what I mean, Muslim. So this is all what they caught, I don't blame them [Americans] for their behavior honestly, because if I was in their spot I would maybe do the same thing, I don't know. So probably they were also scared, worried, that was tough. But honestly, my manager called me to check on me and as soon as I came back to work the head manager came to the counter at the pharmacy and I really appreciate, I will never forget his words. He came and he said, 'Listen Wafa, you are, first of all, you are a human. You are one of our employees and if anybody at work, or any customer, or anybody approach you with any kind of, you know, wording or behavior, please let us know. You are family and you are protected' and I was so happy to hear those words, because it made me feel comfortable and it made me feel that even though I'm a Muslim, but they're accepting me. They're not rejecting me being Muslim.

James Fennessey: Did you have any, like, did you have any other experiences like that during that time like this?

W: No, myself no, but, I know a friend that she got attacked at Walgreens in Chicago, verbally and they snatched her scarf and just left her, you know, um--

Yeah, that was that was awful, that made me really scared that week that I told my husband I was like ok we're not going anywhere, we're just staying home, you know, yeah we stayed home, because it was really tough. It was tough. After that honestly I did not like have anything that made me feel you know, not acceptable maybe at work or with friends, with neighbors, but I know that a lot of friends had really bad experience too so.

ج: منجد؟

(٠:٣٧) م: زي ما حكت وفاء اللغة، يعني لحد الآن نواجه صعوبة اللغة يعني ]يضحك[ أكثر اثنين كانوا مقربين اللي بدي أعتبرهم هم اللي ضرّوني تقريباً. يعني أول ما جيت على شيكاغو أخوي، الله يسهل عليه ويجيبه بالسلامة انشالله، كان يساعدني كثير. نطلع على المحلات، عندي مقابلة، عندي كرت "appointment" يروح معي ويساعدني، ما خلاني ما قالي روح لحالك اعمل دبر حالك اتكلم لطّش، ما فيه وضلينا على هالحالة. ولمّا اتجوزت بعد ثلاث سنين برضو الست وفاء: عندي موعد للدكتور يلا معي! عندي موعد رخصة يلا معي! مافيه يعني ، فلحد الآن أنا يعني الانجليزي بواجه صعوبة بالانكليزي.

W [interjects]: And his employees speak Arabic. so (laughter), so he has to speak Arabic with them too.

م: عندي عمال كمان من العرب ونتكلم دائما بالعربي والحمدلله يعني .زي ما قالت يعني احنا كانت اللغة اللي أخذناها بالبلاد كانت اللغة البريطانية وما عرفنا لمّا جينا هانا "واتس آب" و"هاي" يعني ما كنا نعرف اللغة هذه كلها سبحان الله. بنسلك حالنا بنطلع بنتكلم لكن مش هذيك اللغة.

ج: ليش اللغة البريطانية؟

م: الأردن

W: It's the system ... That's the system in our schools, they teach you the--

J: But, why specifically, why British English over --

W: Ah, because in, before 1948 we had Britain that took over Middle East, like for Jordan, Palestine it was Britain for Lebanon, Syria it was France, so now in Lebanon and Syria the second language is French, but in Palestine and Jordan its English so - yeah that's

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Interviewers: Jimmy Fennessey, Hanada Al-Masri Interviewees: Wafa and Munjid, “Munjid and Wafa Hinnawi - Part 2, October 7, 2018,” Arab-American Project, accessed June 13, 2024,