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Soldiers In My House

Three Weeks to Freedom: One family’s story of survival under siege

Wafa Abu Shmais is an English teacher, the mother of four children, a wife, daughter, and an aunt. She is also a Palestinian, Arabic and Muslim, her entire life spent in an apartheid state where the simple fact of not being Jewish makes one not fully human, expendable and hated. Wafa and her family endure the type of racism and oppression not seen in the United States since the slave days and briefly glimpsed with the internment of the Japanese during World War II.

Yet surprisingly as you read her diary encompassing the three weeks in April 2002, which saw the invasion of Nablus and the Massacre in Jenin, (which Israeli hardliners still try to deny even with the film footage and testimony of Kurdi Bear, one of the D-9 drivers proving it) you’ll discover Wafa could easily be your neighbor.

She worries about what American mothers worry about. Her children complain about the same things American children complain about and she and her husband support each other, just like American husbands and wives support each other.

The most remarkable aspect of this diary gleans though frustration and justified anger; the hate Americans are told consumes all persons of Arabic or Muslim decent is missing. The hate is missing for a reason. It doesn’t exist as it has been painted. What emerges from her writing is hope, frustration and disbelief. The image Americans have of Palestine, including heinously distorted history, biblical and actual reflects propaganda rather than truth. Wafa’s story will allow you to know what Palestinians are really like. When she wrote this in April 2002, she didn’t plan on having it published. She just wrote what she was feeling, seeing, thinking and experiencing. She wrote what was happening.

With the exception of some very minor grammatical corrections, the diary is just as Wafa wrote it. We are very proud to present Wafa’s diary covering the three weeks of hell she and her family survived. You’ll find her story inspiring as well as disturbing, yet it is a story that must be told.

Wafa Abu Shmais’ entire book, is online. You can read it right here.