Eyn Jarrar – Jenīn District
Jamīla Siddīq Nubāni,
speaking from Umm el-Faḥem, 2011
I am from a religious family known as the Nubānis. Our family is originally from Mazāri‛ al-Nubāni, near Ramallah, but my grandfather, Siddīq Mustafa Nubāni, came to a village near Umm el-Faḥem to marry a girl. When he asked for her hand in marriage, her father was surprised, and wanted to know why he would not prefer to marry someone from his own family. But my grandfather had his heart set on her, and her parents would only agree to his proposal if he bought land there and built a house. So that is how my family began to thrive in this region.
My mother said that Umm el-Faḥem got its name because it was where people had cleared the ground so they would have a place to make charcoal [there were natural forests in the area]. As more families came to make charcoal, more and more of them decided to stay on. The area soon grew into a village, and its name means “the mother of charcoal.” I was born in Khirbet al-Buweishāt, which is nearby, in 1927, the daughter of Farīd As‛ad Kalām Maḥamīd. I lived in the village with my parents until I was sixteen.
When I was sixteen, my parents agreed to a marriage proposal. We packed my clothes and I was taken to ‛Eyn Jarrar, a suburb of Umm el-Faḥem. My husband Farīd was a farmer who also made charcoal. His family was poor, his brothers and half-brothers were very young, so he had decided to leave home and look for work to support the family. He returned to find the family starving, and his father delirious—he even asked Farīd if it was truly he who had returned. Farīd’s father told him there was nothing to eat and that his brothers were on the verge of starvation and would soon die. Farīd gathered together all the money he had and went to buy a small calf to slaughter it and gave it to his brothers.
A week after Farīd and I were married, the Nakba of 1948 hit. Jewish military groups came to our village and began to destroy the houses and slaughter the people. Though we had only just started our life together, we had to leave, taking only what we could carry. My sister left her new home at the same time, and we fled toward Umm el-Faḥem. Our house was completely destroyed in that attack. I was told that everyone was lost.
Several months later I gave birth to my first child. My family were planting and harvesting tobacco. In those days, the wives worked on the farm, too, doing the same work as the men, riding horses, planting, harvesting, and later helping to sell the produce. I also worked as a midwife. I had been taught how to heal, using techniques our parents handed down to us.
In 1948, Umm el-Faḥem belonged to Jordan, but King ‛Abdallah handed the triangle over to Israel and Golda Meir. Our people were being disarmed. The Jews came to Umm el-Faḥem and gathered the men together on the main square. Then a tank arrived with just one person sitting in it, looking down over the crowd. He was an informant from our community and he had his face covered in a scarf so that he would not be identified. One by one, people were brought before him, and he pointed out for the Jews those members of our community who had been fighting, as well as those who had spoken badly about the Jews. The men who were identified were brought to the tank, put up against it and shot. Only the men were killed, since the women had hidden in the bread ovens in fear of their lives.
Many of the martyrs from that time are buried in the cemetery in Jenīn. At the beginning of the state here in Israel, we suffered from the emergency situation, because during the period of military rule, people were forbidden to move from one place to the next without permission. I have lived the rest of my life here.