Children of Catastrophe: Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America
This book tells the remarkable story of a Palestinian refugee, following his journey from childhood in the Nahr El Bared Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, becoming a member of the PLO, through to eventual emigration, a new life as an engineer in the United States, and a 'return' trip to historic Palestine.
This book tells the remarkable story of a Palestinian refugee, following his journey from childhood in the Nahr El Bared Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, becoming a member of the PLO, through to eventual emigration, a new life as an engineer in the United States, and a 'return' trip to historic Palestine. A great deal has been written over the years addressing the Palestine - Israel conflict, and the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem. However, few works on the subject really present the personal aspect: What is it like to be a refugee? What propels a decent human being to take up arms, to become a freedom fighter or a 'terrorist?' Running parallel to Kanj's personal narrative, the book also documents the story of Nahr El Bared itself: the story of a refugee camp that grew from an initial clump of muddy UN tents to become a vibrant trading centre in north Lebanon, before its eventual destruction at the hands of the Lebanese army as they battled with militants from the Fatah Al Islam group in the summer of 2007. Throughout it all, the spirit of the remarkable people of the camp shines through, and the book provides a moving testament to how refugees in Lebanon have managed to persist in their struggle for their 'right to return', as well as survive socially, economically and politically despite more than sixty years of dispossession, war and repression. Jamal Kanj's biography provides an invaluable prism through which to comprehend the simple truth that Israelis and Palestinians both love the same land. Transcending facile black-white thinking, he humbly weaves his life story as a refugee in Lebanon into often misunderstood facets of Middle East politics. By honestly portraying heart-rending stories of his family's pain, he lifts the veil that continues to obscure Palestinians' humanity and dignity. For anyone wishing to grasp the contradictions and complexity of the Middle East, this book is required reading. --Dr George Katsiaficas, author of 'The Imagination of the New Left' and & 'The Subversion of Politics' Jamal Kanj's 'Children of Catastrophe: Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America' is a moving and powerful narrative. Its gripping details are weaved through personal and collective accounts, which relay the story of Palestinian Diaspora through the life of the author and his family. Kanj's personal story of the refugee camp of Nahr El Bared paints an unmatched picture of the realities that shaped the impoverished refugee camp, from its early formations to its violent presence. Such narratives are of immense import, for such accounts humanize a place, and a people who have been seen for too long as mere subjects of statistical data and academic discussion. There are people, faces, personal tragedies and triumphs, dreams that were crushed and others waiting to be fulfilled in Nahr El Bared - as well as in the rest of the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, and elsewhere. Kanj tells the stories of these resolute people, steadfast even in their weakest moments, through his own. --Ramzy Baroud, author of 'The Second Palestinian Intifada' and 'Searching Jenin' About the Author JAMAL KANJ was born in a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon ten years after the creation of the state of Israel. He moved to the United States in late 1977, and has been active in various local and national political organizations. He is a cofounder of the Middle East Cultural and Information Center in San Diego and served as the Secretary General for the US chapter of the General Union of Palestine Students. Today, Kanj is a professional engineer who works on water infrastructure management.