MIRAL

 

On her way to work on the morning of April 10 1948, Hind Husseini, a young woman from an aristocratic family, came across fifty-five children being unloaded from an Israeli army truck, left huddled together crying and lost near the Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. They were survivors of a massacre that took place in a small village called Deir Yassin. It was the beginning of the war of 1948. Hind took them immediately to her ancestral home and proceeded to trade and sell all of her familial possessions to start what would become the Dar El-Tiffel orphanage, The Children’s Home, in East Jerusalem, that became an oasis for Palestinian orphans.

Today there are 3,000 girls in that school. Miral is of one of these children who at the age of five was left at Dar El-Tiffel after her mother’s suicide, a recipient of Hind’s deep commitment that a difference can be made through love and education even in the most impossible circumstances.

Miral is the name of a teenage Palestinian girl who is the heir to a family’s legacy of political and emotional upheaval defined by the historic events of the birth of the Israeli State. Miral is the story of its effect on four radically different women whose lives intertwine to create an unexpected and surprising fabric that embodies issues that have still not been resolved today. Miral’s namesake, the flower that grows on the side of the road, winds its way through the tragic life of Nadia who was abused by her stepfather and becomes a belly dancer in Jaffa, and her relationship with Fatima, a frustrated nurse who saw so much pain and futile violence that she turned to terrorism, and Nadia’s daughter Miral who as a teenager was part of a generation that lived through the first Intifada, The Palestinian Uprising, 1987-1993, where for the first time both sides looked at each other not from behind a gun, but sat around a table to negotiate, a time of intense political activity and an atmosphere full of hope that led to the Oslo Agreement.

At the same moment, two girls, one Palestinian, one Israeli, sit together on a beach and talk about their future. This extraordinary document is written in filmic vignettes that reveal an insight into Palestinian women navigating the turbulent political and personal struggles in Israel between 1948-1993. This book describes the fragile steps that confront a young person whose awareness and sense of responsibility to their people forces them to act and find justice for those who are less privileged. This is an encouraging tale of what can happen if someone is given a chance.