Tag Archives: Yaffa

Palestine to Sheffield: One month away from home

Sheffield University Student Union officially opened by Paul Bloomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, assisted by Malaka Mohammed and James Kenny

Sheffield University Student Union officially opened by Paul Bloomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, assisted by Malaka Mohammed and James Kenny

Yaffa to Gaza then Sheffield

I am of the generation of children born during the first Intifada, my grandparents are from the city of Yaffa, now a part of present day Israel. I have a sharp recollection of the stories my Grandmother used to tell me about our homeland: the scent of the orange trees blowing in the wind. There was nothing quite as provoking as the image of the trees standing tall, free. Growing up as a refugee in Gaza, I burnt these images into my mind, always telling my Grandmother that I wanted to see the land. She, like the resilience of the trees, reminded me to be strong, tenacious, and never submit to powerlessness, especially in the face of injustice.

My grandma died. God bless her soul. Yet she is still alive within us, within her children and grandchildren.

Throughout my childhood I have witnessed destruction, ruins, and the desecration of human rights. I watched my family and friends suffer from phosphorous bombs that were thrown on our region. What I experienced is indescribable. Sometimes I have sleepless nights.

I grew up in Al-Shijaeyah, Eastern Gaza; the closest area to the Israeli borders. Like the rest of Gaza we suffer from daily power-cuts and shortages of clean water. Also, given its proximity to the Israeli border, it is likely to be Israel’s first target during any invasion or escalation. My upbringing in Gaza, whilst wholesome and spiritual, two qualities I consider irreplaceable and perhaps specific to Palestine, was in sharp contrast to my experience so far of living in the UK, all of which will be elaborated upon in the following paragraphs.

The First Glance

When I first saw Sheffield, I was at the peak of happiness given the numerous narrow escapes I had crossing the Rafah border into Egypt. Travelling alone for the first time was quite difficult; I felt traumatized after my humiliated journey. I lost the ability to communicate properly and my sleep was infested with recurring dreams of the malicious policemen and soldiers in the Sinai dessert and Cairo who seemed hell bent on stopping every car bearing a Palestinian passenger. The experience in totality was de-humanizing. Of course, with time, these feelings subsided after meeting more people from Sheffield who each day have helped me create better memories.

The differences between Sheffield and Gaza were immediately apparent. The degree of peace and calm is so alien to me it was initially unnerving. Everyday in Gaza is unpredictable in comparison; before I could not imagine spending a day without hearing the sound of F16 or Apache jets hovering in the skies, infiltrating our daily life. It seems miraculous to behold a city where the electricity supply is continuous and clean water is freely available. I can travel freely where and whenever I want. The freedom here is inconceivable to someone who has spent their entire life in Gaza. The contrast is peculiar, unnerving and yet exhilarating.

Gaza is still inculcated in different aspects of my life: whenever I skype with my family, there is either a power cut or weak net connection and I can hardly hear their voices or see their faces. But this is better than nothing; life teaches me that there is always a bright side.

Another novelty in Sheffield is the multi-culturist nature of the city. Here I behold a community of students from all over the world, with different religions, colour and ethnicity, all of whom get on well and live amongst each other in peace. What I have learnt in the first four weeks cannot be easily squeezed in a few lines.

Solidarity Activism

The ‘Palestine Society – University of Sheffield’ first event was amazing. A lot of people attended a screening of the award-winning ‘Occupation 101′. The film shed light on the realities of the quality of life faced by children living in refugee camps in Gaza or the West Bank. It depicts the atrocities of house demolitions, land confiscation and the daily violence, from the perspective of the youth. I could see people in the audience crying. It all brought back floods of memories of Gaza. I thought of my mom when she got badly affected by phosphorous bombs. I remembered how she needed a few weeks to recover while other needs months or years. I then remembered the sea where I would spend the weekends with my friends. I felt a conflict of emotions afterwards, between hope and despair, the promise of life and death, of love and hatred. The film was a stark reminder and call to justice to free the Palestinian people.

In a meeting with Jill Evans, Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for European and International Issues in the European Parliament (EU), I spoke about the issue of the students stuck in Gaza. She was very kind to offer help by sending individual letters to people who can help. The moment I returned home, I wrote an email including a biography of a group of students who want to leave urgently to pursue their studies. Fortunately their prayers were answered and they were able to travel a day after I sent the email. They were at risk of losing their scholarships! I am planning to send her another group of students in the coming days.

Evans has visited both Gaza and the West Bank numerous times since 2000. She discussed the role of the EU in view of the guidelines adopted by the Executive European Commission in June, which stated that illegal settlements will be ineligible for grants, prizes or loans from 2014.

The Sheffield University Student Union actively campaigns against the siege in Gaza, taking practical steps to support Palestinians’ rights to education by fostering links with the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG). The policy was passed by referendum in March 2011 (1754 votes for, 959 against, 1146 abstentions). The Students’ Union resolves to become formally twinned with the IUG, working with students at IUG and other universities to actively campaign against the blockade of Gaza, and lobbying the university to implement an annual scholarship programme for at least one student from Gaza, and to inform Sheffield students, other Students’ Unions and the wider community of developing issues facing Gazan students. This year should be great in terms of working for Palestine.

My first Lecture

“We are the UK’s top politics department for research. We give people the tools to investigate and understand the way power is won and used in our increasingly complex world. Students love our world-class teaching and close sense of community. Every student must be proud she/he is studying in our Politics Department in The University of Sheffield.” The professor said.

I reached the seminar room half an hour prior to my class commencement. When the professor arrived he asked us to move our chairs to form a circle to facilitate the subsequent discussion. One of the most interesting parts was when the professor decided to “socialize” our lecture. He asked every student to speak in one minute about three main points; name, hometown, and hobby. I was quite surprised as everyone likes football and the best team is Arsenal. Many students surprisingly announced their relish in reading sadistic historical stories. “I love WWII books.” a student said pompously.

“Why, what do you love in that book!” the teacher wondered.

“I love Nazi Germany stories, how they fight, and the tools they use!” Answered the student, with zeal.

My turn was the longest. “My name is Malaka. I am originally for Yaffa to the north-west of Palestine. My family was forced to leave in 1948 Nakba to where we now live, Gaza!”

“You are from Gaza! That will be quite helpful in reality. Be ready for loads of questions every lecture about Palestine…” It was interesting that the history of an entire nation of people can be regarded the way a person in a museum looks at a glass cabinet of artifacts. It is sometimes easy to dissociate from the reality that these travesties are ongoing, relentless, and for some, an immediate reality.


I have had the chance to speak in a conference entitled “Confronting Israeli Apartheid; Building the Student Movement for Palestine” 12-13 October in the University of London Union and School of African Studies in London. The conference commenced with a workshop welcome and opening panel to introduce participants to boycotts, divestment and sanction (BDS) and campaigning on campus where participants shared their own experience during a long question and answer session. The conference included sessions on building effective campaigns, explaining Israeli Apartheid, divesting from Israeli apartheid, building an academic boycott, Israeli Apartheid Week and Right to Education Campaign. The final session allowed space for feedback from the previous workshops and discussed and agreed on next steps regarding communication, coordination, and Israeli Apartheid Week 2014. I met with many Palestinians and pro-Palestinian activists willing to help and support our cause. That day I had seen enthusiasm like never before. I had the chance to speak in one of the sessions about the effects of Israeli Apartheid on the Palestinian educational system and ways to support in the light of Sheffield-IUG twinning. Ans once again I was moved by the tears in the audience.

My First Eid, and Niece

I was surprised the day I left London when my friend told me happy Eid. “When is Eid” I wondered. “The day after tomorrow!” Having it far away from your family is not at all easy. The night before Eid, I managed to go to a mosque with my friend where I met with many people from Sheffield celebrating in different ways. My friend had plans to travel to see her family in Turkey. She asked me about my plans.

“I really don’t know. I have lectures!” I said. She asked if I will go back to Palestine for the next three days. “If it is that easy, I will not but go. Gaza is the biggest prison where Israel and Egypt, unfortunately, endeavor to intensify as much pressure as they can on us even if we are outside. Rafah crossing which is the only gate I can use to return and spend my holidays is closed.” I spent the whole night skyping with my family and my youngest sister started crying. I couldn’t carry on the call. When I managed to reopen my laptop and re-call my family, I read “Congrats, you have become an aunty”. My sister had given birth and I had become an aunt in the first day of Eid. I realized then that I am not there to touch or hug her.

October 18th

It is October 18th. I was planning to start my first essay about “Lotus Principle”. Then a message changed my entire day, “Can we meet today at 04:00 pm at Coffee Revolution, a place in Sheffield Student Union?” my friend messaged me. I went. And all my friends were there. I then recognized that it was my birthday! We celebrated together for the first time outside Gaza. It was strange because I noted a greater precedence given to celebrating birthdays compared to our culture back home. Whilst our birthdays are more a celebration of our mothers’ resilience in childbirth, I enjoyed marking this special day as it reminds me of the testament of the value of the individual.

Thursday October 24th

Ally Buckle, the current president of Sheffield University Student Union, messaged me when I was in Gaza asking if I could participate in opening a new building in Sheffield. “If I am in Sheffield, I will have no problem in that. But I don’t know when I will be out of Gaza big prison!” hesitantly I replied.

And it’s October 24th and I am in Sheffield. I was so excited to join Mr. Paul Bloomfield MP for Sheffield Central and the student James Kenny opening the new Student Union building. The moment Mr. Bloomfield said, “We are very pleased here to welcome Malaka from Gaza who will join me opening the new building. This is not only wonderful but quite important to have her sharing us this moment!” He then called James and I to go and got one balloon each then tied them to other balloons. It was an indescribable moment!

The event was preceded by a tour around the new building where groups of students in every corner tried to play a role summarizing a historical event happened years ago in Sheffield. A while after we opened the building, we are asked to take a photo together. And I saw my name engraved in a plaque in the student union wall.

This is an idea that is each day growing in my mind and relates directly back to the millions of Palestinians who each have the right not only for their physical freedom, but for the spiritual freedom to discover and pursue his/her own desires and dreams. This is ultimately what I am striving towards.


I used to live in Yaffa. Now,  I am a refugee, a Palestinian one. Being a refugee means never give up my right to return to my homeland. I was born during the first Intifada. My grandma used to tell me the story of our land; the part about the orange tree was the most beautiful of the whole city. I used to always say “want to see it.” She seemed to always have had the same reply “Malaka, don’t give up! Fight. Be strong. Do your best to have your right back.” She taught me that I should not be silent when I see others abuse our rights. My grandma died. God bless her soul. Yet, she is still alive within us, within her children and grandchildren. Since birth, I have witnessed destruction, ruins, absence of human rights! I have seen phosphorus bombs with my own eyes! What I witnessed and experienced is indescribable! Sometimes, I have sleepless nights; others, I lack the ability to focus and study! As I live at Al-Shijaeyah, to the east of Gaza, the closest area to the Israeli borders, this place will likely be Israel’s first target during any invasion or escalation. I suffer the power-cuts on a daily basis too. I can endure more and more for the sake of my return that is nearer now.

و دخلنا مينا يافا
يا طيب العود إلى #يافا
و ملئنا الضفة أصدافا
يا أحلى الأيام بيافا
#Yaffa Port

#يافا .. وهل ظلَّ بعدَ سحرِ الإسمِ ما يُقال
#Yaffa Sea

ميدان الساعة بـ #يافا قديماً
Al Sa’a Square #Yaffa

بفلسطين زماان ، كانت حضارة ، وموسيقى ، وجوقات ، حتى بالمدارس .. #يافا 1938
#Yaffa in 1938 where there was an amazing culture..

#يافا … عروس البـــحر
#Yaffa Sea

برتقال #يافا قبل الاحتلال الصهيوني ل #فلسطين
#Yaffa while harvesting oranges before the 1948 Nakba

السفن بمينا #يافا كانت توصل عالاسكندرية وبور سعيد جزء من بلاطة محفورة بالارض بالمينا
Ships #Yaffa Port used to reach Alexanderia in Egypt. The pricture shows part of the slab engraved in the Port

مدينة #يافا المحتلة مسجد حسن بيك
سنعود يا وطني وإن طال البعاد
#فلسطين كم أنتي جميلة، وكم سيزداد جمالك برحيل الاحتلال
#Yaffa Hassan Beikh Mosque

في #يافا ،، علم بلادي مرفوع
#Yaffa The Palestinian flag is there despite the Israeli flags.

شوفوا مكاتب الشركة وين كانت #فلسطين #النكبة #يافا
Wonderful that the travel offices used to be in five main cities including #Yaffa #Haifa #Jerusalem #Beirut #Damascus

عروس البحر #يافا
#Yaffa Sea

سوق #يافا عام 1880
“على أبواب يافا يا أحبائي
وفي فوضى حطام الدور بين الردمِ والشوكِ
وقفتُ وقلتُ للعينين: قفا نبكِ”
#Yaffa Market

سرقوا الأرض مِنّا ولكن لم يسرقوا حُبّها !
صورة لأحد شوارع مدينة #يافا المحتلة
One of the old city streets #Yaffa

شارع #غزة ب #يافا بحبه
#Gaza street in #Yaffa

يافا تدمير الاحتلال البريطاني لأحياء عربية 1936#
The British Occupation while destroying some Arab villages #Yaffa

@hiba_natour 7 Apr
ادمنت ع هواكي #يافا ، بحب هاد الصباح بشكل خاص، اهم ايشي الطقس:)
#Yaffa weather is “wonderful”

Iman • إيمانْ ‏@iman_khaled 31 Mar
ويافا والغيوم تطوف فيها كحالمة يجللها اكتئابُ ، كأن الجو بين الشمس تزهى وبين الشمس غطاها نقابُ * #يافا
#Yaffa and its Sea.

@yafa_ali 1m
#يافا صورة جوية في بداية القرن العشرين ( تم تلوينها )
#Yaffa a picture from a high altitude

نهر العوجا (اليرقون) – قضاء #يافا ..طوله 27 كم
#Yaffa Al-Oja river. 27 km.

ميدان الساعة بـ #يافا قديماً
#Yaffa Al-Sa’a Square.

@nosratalquds 27 Oct
جلسة بحرية مميزة في احد مقاهي #يافا المطلة على البحر سنة 1935 || #فلسطين
#Yaffa an old Cafe’ by the Sea

مشهد نادر لعرس من أعراس #يافا قبل النكبة
#Yaffa Wedding.

#يافا وأجمل ذكرياتها
بعدسة فيليكس بوفيس 1875
#Yaffa Sea in 1875

#يافا إعلان منشور في صحيفة فلسطين الصادرة بتاريخ 1947/6/15 عن توفر شيد حجري لزيادة البناء والعمران في يافا
#Palestine Magazine in #Yaffa published an announce about the availability of stones that use in building

@yafa_ali 10m
#يافا اعلان قديم لرحلة من القاهرة الى #القدس عبر يافا بـ الاتوبيس و بأقل من 3 جنيهات للشركة العربية للنقل خلال 12ساعة
#Yaffa newspaper, an ad in regard to a travel trip from Cairo to Jerusalem through Yaffa.

التحرير ليس فقط ميدان ،،، #غرافيتي في #يافا
#Tahrir is not only a square, this is what a Graffiti said in Yaffa

ليش هيك؟ #يافا
#Yaffa Sea 😦 Why can’t we go there?

من #يافا القديمة
The Old #Yaffa

مظاهرة ضد تزايد الهجرة الصهيونية لفلسطين ,, قوات بريطانية تهاجم المظاهرة . تشرين أول 1933 #يافا
A demonstration against the increase of the Zionist emigration to Palestine and the British troops attack the demonstrators

#أنتيكة: صورة عتيقة لأوائل الـ١٩٠٠ لجامعي البرتقال اليافاوي المعروف الآن بأنه أفضل صادرات “إسرائيل”
Collecting oranges in #Yaffa 🙂

@basemaggad 16 Mar 12
فاتورة ماكنة خياطة من ١٩٤٦ تعود لجدتي #يافا #فلسطين A 1946 sewing machine invoice belongs to grandma

#يافا جامع الجبلية في الحي الجنوبي للمدينة
Al Jabalia mosque to the south of Yafa

يافا : منظر عام من جهة الميناء #Yaffa Port

يافا : منظر عام من بيارات البرتقال. قبل 1914 #Yaffa & Orange groves

سينما الحمراء الشهيرة الموجودة في شارع جمال باشا #4. لاحظ العلم الفلسطيني على قمة المبنى Al Hamra Cinema #Yaffa

#يافا مدخل لسبيل غير مُعرف #Yaffa the entrance of a place called “Sabeel”

يافا : اسوار البلد القديمة #Yaffa, the walls of the old city

ممرات فى البلدة القديمة #يافا Alleyway in the old city

والجمال هنا يتجلى 🙂 More Palestinian home, note the old architecture

كنيسة اللتين ومدرسة تراسنطا #Yaffa Al-Latin Church & Taransta School

يت فلسطيني في حي العجمي #A Palestinian house in Al-Ajamy region

سوق الصلاحي عمارة الصلاحي/سوق فطوم #Al-Salahee market and Al-Salahee house

يافا : البوابة الشرقية لسوق الدير الذي بيع للمستثمرين اليهود The eastern gate of the Monastery Market, which was bought for Zionist investors

بحرك يافا ياحلم عيون الصياده خلف المينا #Yaffa Sea

مدرسة الفرير العريقة شارع الحلوة مقابل المستشفى الفرنسي #Yaffa Al-Freez School

قبور غير مبنية لشهداء المقاومة الذين دفنوا في مقيرة طاسو وهم مجهولي الهوية Non-built graves to the martyrs of the resistance who buried in Mkirh.

منظر لنهر العوجة الموجود شمالي المدينة بالقرب من الشيخ مونس وجريشا Al-Oja river #Yaffa

يافا والقطوف الدانية #Yaffa oranges

Yaffa – يافا : بوابة منزل في حي النزهة كتب علبة بالاحرف الانجليزية AN من هم أصحاب هذا البيت والحواصل حول #Yaffa this is the place where I used to live in.

يافا : فتاة عربية من يافا 1889 A Palestinian woman from #Yaffa 1889

يافا : نقل الحمضيات إلى ميناء يافا 1920 Jaffa: citrus are transferred into the port of Jaffa 1920

يافا : الحاوز خزان الماء A Water tank #Yaffa

يافا: مستشفى الدكتور فؤاد إسماعيل الدجاني 1935 Dr. Fuad Al-Djany Hospital

The photos are from