A tribute by US congresswoman Rashida Tlaib has prompted Twitter users to share stories of their own ‘sitty’. Mine was formidable
There are not many good news stories about Palestine so I was thrilled when, over the weekend, #MyPalestineSitty trended on Twitter. A tribute by congresswoman Rashida Tlaib to the “sitty” (Arabic for grandmother) she was not able to visit inspired thousands of people to post emotive memories of their own Palestinian grandmothers. The western media often portray Arab women as powerless; #MyPalestineSitty told badass stories of fierce matriarchs. Palestinians are often depicted as terrorists, victims or statistics; the #MyPalestineSitty stories were a reminder that they are human beings, just like everyone else. “I am overcome with emotions realising how we are finally humanising one of the world’s most dehumanised peoples,” Ilhan Omar tweeted as the hashtag went viral.
While it was incredible to see Palestine trending, it also made me sad that I have so few memories of my own Palestinian sitty. I met her only once, when I was five, during a family trip to my dad’s village in the West Bank. She was virtually blind by then, her sight eroded by diabetes and complications from being teargassed in the face by Israeli soldiers during a protest in the village. She was 70 during that protest. Her sight may have been weak but she certainly was not – my sitty was a formidable woman who raised nine kids while working as a midwife and seamstress. She was famous in the village for her love of high-heeled shoes and, like many a grandmother, she was a brilliant cook. Although my dad likes to claim he is the better chef now.