A teacher from Palestine we will probably forget

Diana Moukalled

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Palestinian teacher Hanan al-Hroub was the proud recipient of the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2016 that was awarded recently. We shared her joy as she jubilantly stood on stage after receiving the award.

Hroub grew up in the Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem. She worked hard to prevent her students from getting caught in the vortex of frustration in the extremely miserable circumstances for Palestinians. Hroub refused to get fatalistic about the situation on the ground and chose to fight even after her husband was shot by Israelis and her children were shocked to see their father getting wounded in front of their eyes.

Yet, Hanan refused to believe in violence and decided to make her children and other students see hope and discover joy by learning via playing. She did that successfully for years and managed to limit her children and other students’ tendency to become violent. She dedicated herself to becoming a great mother and a teacher full of positive energy.

Global interest in the story of the year’s best teacher has brought spotlight on the Palestinian tragedy, which almost seems forgotten due to other developments taking place in the region.

Diana Moukalled

This Palestinian teacher’s story has become a source of inspiration for the Palestinians, Arabs and the world in general. Many global media outlets have narrated her story. She has become a role model representing a positive dimension to resisting the Israeli occupation. She is doing this at a time when some people are mobilizing others to resort to violence. Growing instances of stabbing in recent months is an example of this approach.

Yes, we can triumph over occupation by smiling as we take hits. We can triumph by gaining more knowledge, by possessing more tools to acquire knowledge and by refusing to be dragged into violence. These are not mere words or statements which ignore the depth of suffering. Hanan has taught us a lesson. Global interest in the story of the year’s best teacher has brought spotlight on the Palestinian tragedy, which almost seems forgotten due to other developments taking place in the region.

Palestinian tragedy

Yes, there is a tragedy called the Palestinian tragedy and there is occupation by the state of Israel. This is something that regimes like that of Bashar al-Assad have sought to make us forget by committing acts that are worse than the Israeli occupation.

Hanan al-Hroub has persistently and calmly prevented many students from being dragged into violence. This story has elicited global interest in the Palestinian people, albeit for some time. The world has been reminded of what the Palestinians are suffering from. Otherwise the news about Palestine is limited to stabbing incidents or murder of protesters. Yet, as many as 200 Palestinians and 28 Israelis have been killed in the past five months.

Hanan al-Hroub notwithstanding, limited coverage of Palestine doesn’t mean that the Palestinian tragedy has lessened. The Palestinian cause hasn’t indeed been of primary interest in recent years. This is because a sense of hypocrisy regarding Palestine has marginalized the Palestinians. Some even believe that the road to Jerusalem passes through Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan.

For Hanan al-Hroub, the path is clear and it is rejecting violence and showing the determination to live, learn and have the audacity of hope. So what is resistance if it is not what this teacher has done?

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Mar. 21, 2016.
Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.

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