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Three Mothers, Three Daughters: Palestinian Women's Stories

by Michael Gorkin And Rafiqa Othman

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About Book

Some experiences are so basic to women that we expect similarities. But the six Palestinian mothers and daughters who talk of their lives here may throw many Western reference points askew. One raised children in a refugee camp after her village was destroyed and paid dearly for the violent politics this fostered in them. All are marked by a society that preaches female inferiority and work not softened by modern conveniences. Among the older women, the rigors of bearing child after child are unfamiliar to most of us--and even to their daughters, whose lives reflect seesawing social changes in the conflict-ridden Middle East. These very differences, though, are what makes their stories fascinating.

From School Library Journal
YA-Interviews with six women from three different Palestinian Moslem communities in the Middle East. Gorkin, a Jewish American, collaborated with Othman, a Palestinian special-education teacher, in securing consent and conducting interviews with the women, who live in East Jerusalem, the village of Abu Ghosh in Israel, and the refugee camp of Aida in the West Bank. Gorkin and Othman narrowed their selection to include only Moslem women. The first-person narratives include a variety of topics and present informative insights into the life of the older generation as well as that of the current generation. Major changes in attitudes toward education, marriage, and employment are obvious in these oral histories. Views on courtship, the family, politics, religion, and daily life can also be gleaned. In schools where there is a Middle Eastern Studies curriculum, this book will be a valuable asset. In high schools where there is a significant Arab community, it is a necessity.
Dottie Kraft, formerly at Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal
Gorkin (Days of Honey, Days of Onion, Univ. of California, 1993), a Jewish American psychologist living in Israel, and Othman, a Palestinian special education teacher, have teamed up to capture, through numerous interviews with women of different generations, candid and valuable accounts of the ways Palestinian Arab women see themselves and their roles relative to a changing yet still conservative society. The authors chose three mother- daughter couples from geographically diverse areas: a refugee camp on the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and an Israeli Arab village. Through these oral narratives, the reader come to see generational changes at play especially in the areas of education, choice of spouse and marriage, and employment. These women tell their stories in the first person in a spontaneous, vividly narrative that is not low on emotions and nostalgia. This book serves as a starting point for the understanding of an often-forgotten element in political and historical accounts of a tumultuous Middle East. Suitable for academic and women's studies collections.?Ali Houissa, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, N.Y.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Book Description
This remarkable collection of oral histories from six Palestinian women, three mothers and three of their daughters, affords an unparalleled view into the daily lives of women who have lived, and continue to live, through a turbulent and rapidly changing era. In recording these stories, Michael Gorkin and Rafiqa Othman have preserved each woman's distinctive voice, capturing in vivid and moving detail a broad range of experience--everything from recollections of native villages to an account of incarceration as a political prisoner. Highly personal events such as courting, marriage, and childbirth are interwoven with memories of upheavals such as the wars of 1948 and 1967. The women speak with surprising candor about conflicts between mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, men and women, Arabs and Jews. These beautifully written narratives bear witness to the power of Palestinian culture in sustaining the often difficult lives of women. The book also provides brilliant testimony to the experience of living in the midst of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Michael Gorkin, a Jewish-American psychologist who lives in Israel, and Rafiqa Othman, a Palestinian special education teacher, have collected the narratives from different cultural and geographic locations within the boundaries of historical Palestine--including East Jerusalem, a refugee camp on the West Bank, and an Arab village within Israel. With surprising intimacy, the mothers and daughters discuss their views about sex, marriage, and child-rearing; ideas about themselves and their relationship to God, their families, and their homeland; and questions of shame, devotion, freedom, and honor.
In the preface, introduction and epilogue, Gorkin and Othman frame the stories and describe the project. The linked stories of mothers and daughters attest to the profound changes that have occurred in the lives of Palestinian women during this century--in the areas of education, work, political involvement and personal freedom. In addition to delineating this astonishing historical and cultural transformation, the stories create lasting images of the people these women have loved and hated, the pleasures they have enjoyed, the dangers they have survived, and the hopes they continue to cherish.

About the Author
Michael Gorkin is a clinical psychologist and author of Days of Honey, Days of Onion: The Story of a Palestinian Family (California, 1991). Rafiqa Othman is a teacher and supervisor at the David Yellin Teacher's College in Jerusalem.



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