‘By the time they let me go my mother was gone’: Daughters of imprisoned Palestinian lawmaker Khalida Jarrar speak out

From Mondoweiss: Ramallah, occupied West Bank — Suha and Yaffa Jarrar have come to accept that their family is never safe. 

Aug 29

Being the daughters of Khalida Jarrar, a well-known leftist lawmaker in the occupied Palestinian territory, they are always prepared for bad news. Parliamentary immunity is not respected, not by the Israeli government or by its Palestinian counterpart, and their mother has never been one to back down from what she sees as injustice. In addition, their father, Ghassan Jarrar, has spent a total of 11 years in Israeli jail during his lifetime of activism.

Growing up in a politically charged household brought its challenges, but the young women are proud of their parents for their involvement.

“It was hard sometimes, especially when we were young, for sure there were periods when we thought, ‘why us,’ you know, why can’t we have a normal kind of family,  but as adults we understand and we are so proud of our mother,” Suha said.

Khalida has been arrested by Israeli forces several times since she began her involvement in Palestinian politics as a young teenager. However, the most prominent of her detentions was two year ago when she was detained on April 2, 2015 and held for more than one year.

That was the first time Suha had to make the hard phone call informing her sister their mother had been taken. Yaffa was serving tables at a restaurant in Canada in between her studies at the time. Suha told her sister’s boss first and got permission to pull Yaffa out of work to tell her what had happened.

“It was hard to explain to our friends in Canada that my mom was in prison but she wasn’t a criminal. In Canada they’re used to a real justice system,” Yaffa said. “When the people in Canada hear that my mother is in prison I don’t just have to explain what a Palestinian political prisoner is, I have to explain the whole occupation for them to understand, because they just don’t have that awareness of how someone who is innocent, someone who is a lawmaker and activists would be imprisoned without charge or trial.”

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Photo: Sheren Khalel

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