Thanksgiving Good News from Palestine

by James M. Wall

I have it on good authority that almost the only Thanksgiving celebrations in Palestine this week are those enjoyed by U.S. expats, that is, those who “leave one’s native country to live elsewhere”.

That does not deter this American blogger from sharing one good news story at Thanksgiving which involves the Palestinian people.

Yes, in spite of having to live under an Israeli military occupation run by an authoritarian politician named Netanyahu, there is positive news for the civilized world to include when joining our American rite of giving thanks this season.

Those who do not gather about an American-style Thanksgiving table may still utter words of gratitude for the results emanating from the sumud practiced by the Palestinian people.

And since I have already seen fit to define “expats” above, pause with me for a moment to define the Arabic word, sumud, as it appears in the very-American Wikipedia.:

Sumud (Arabic: صمود‎) meaning “steadfastness” or “steadfast perseverance” is an ideological theme and political strategy that first emerged among the Palestinian people through the experience of the dialectic of oppression and resistance in the wake of the 1967 Six-Day War.

Or, as a reader in Comments below, notes, “as a bilingual whose mother tongue is Arabic, I would translate ‘sumud’ as ‘endurance’!” 

For the good news about which we should be thankful, journey with me to a Gaza news report about “coding” from Al Jazeera’s Fedaa al-Qedra, which explains the good news found in the life experience of one young Palestinian woman’s sumud when she discovered coding.

Fedaa al-Qedra’s Al Jazeera report begins:

When Yasmin Helles (picture above) was an English literature student at a Gaza college, she would spend most of her time online looking for information that could help her in academic life.

She always wondered who designed these websites, making all this information available.

She wanted to become that person.

Six months ago, the 24-year-old saw an advertisement by Gaza Sky Geeks (GSG), a rapidly growing business and tech incubator, calling for young graduates to enroll in the first coding school in the beleaguered Palestinian territory, which only recently saw yet another round of deadly Israeli air raids.

Helles took the unexpected step of quitting her job as an English teacher to spend more time pursuing her dream.  Now, she has joined the coding academy.

“I said to myself ‘Yes, that was what I wanted,'” Helles told Al Jazeera in GSG’s main room, a computer lab, taking a respite from typing lines of code.

“I’m proud that I can now build a mobile app to serve a large slice of people who need it”. 

Gaza is home to roughly 2 million people and experiences one of the highest unemployment rates in the world – more than 50 percent are without work.

The unemployment is a product of its isolation. Gaza has been under an Israeli blockade, assisted by Egypt under the governments of former President Hosni Mubarak and current leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, since 2007.

But Gazans are finding opportunities beyond the besieged strip. There is a rise in entrepreneurial start-ups and tech accelerators, providing residents of the strip with outside opportunities previously unavailable.

GSG’s coding school was established in 2017 with funding from Google and London-based coding boot camp Founders & Coders [and others]. It aims to empower students to be full-stack developers, which means they will be able to handle software building for mobile, computer and web.

Graduates learn to deploy production-grade software online and secure high-quality jobs with companies or work as freelance developers.

During this Thanksgiving week, no matter where you are, when you turn on your computer, give thanks to young Palestinians like Yasmin Helles, who has risen above an oppressive military occupation to find her future serving others through work she enjoys.

And, don’t forget to be thankful for Fedaa al-Qedra, who told us this good news story.

The picture above of Yasmin Helles is by Fedaa al-Qedra in Al Jazeera.

About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years. James M Wall died March 22, 2021 at age 92. His family appreciates all of his readers, even those who may have disagreed with his well-informed writings.
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8 Responses to Thanksgiving Good News from Palestine

  1. Leonard Rodgers says:

    Greetings Rev. Wall, I always appreciate your writing as a true advocate for the people of the Middle East regardless of their background or religion. You are an inspiration for sure.

  2. Patricia says:

    Any good news about Palestinians is good news.

  3. AWAD PAUL SIFRI says:

    Jim, Many thanks for telling us about this inspiring story emanating from Palestine.
    Israeli occupation will be overcome and Palestinians will be free and independent, no matter how long it takes.
    On the occasion of Thanksgiving, and as a Palestinian-American, I thank God for having given us Palestinians a beacon of Hope, Truth, and Justice. His name is Jim Wall.
    We cannot thank you enough for all you have done and continue to do for the cause of peace and justice for all the people of the Holy Land..

  4. Samia Khoury says:

    Thank you James. As always your writings are so refreshing. Indeed Sumud is our only hope. against all those brutal measures to wipe us off the map .

  5. Inspiring indeed. By the way, as a bilingual whose mother tongue is Arabic, I would translate ‘sumud’ as ‘endurance’!

  6. Mary Allen says:

    I give thanks for your letters whenever they appear in my inbox, and I distribute them to a Google group called pinews (Palestine Israel News), confident that you will give us new information and good advice! Thank God for you, James Wall, and the many other allies advocating for Palestine.

  7. oldkahuna says:

    It is my hope that achievements such as this will assist Palestinians in Gaza AND the West Bank to fly over the walls of military occupation, giving a form of freedom so much in need.

    And Thanks giving for you, Jim. You continue to be a blessing!!

  8. Well and truly done, Jim. But I’m the eternal pessimist: I pray that a Zionist troll doesn’t read Wallwritings and alert his or her cohorts to locate and target the building where Ms. Helles’ “GSG’s main room, a computer lab” is located during the next Zioterrorist massacre of the Gaza Concentration Camp.

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