Jamail Kanj discusses his book, Children Of Catastrophe
John Welch interviewed Jamail Kanj last week on the Peace & Justice Report
This book reveals his story from childhood in Nahr El Bared Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, becoming a PLO activist, eventual emigration, a new life as an engineer in the United States, and a 'return' trip to historic Palestine.
Running parallel to the 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 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 two years of dispossession, war and repression.
The book illustrates how refugees are able to remain uniquely Palestinians, and to survive socially, economically, and politically during the hypothetically “temporary” resident status in Lebanon. The refugees have indefatigably remained part of a nation, without the state. Israeli writer Danny Rubinstein said it best when describing the Palestinians in his book:
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