Adonis Diaries

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In my Palestinian grandfather’s story, I find reasons to endure

Like all refugees, Ahmad Badawi Mustafa Ayoub left the world unmourned.

His memories rent from the land that made them. But his story, like Palestine’s itself, will matter well beyond the next negotiation. No empire, no flag, or sovereign can change that.

Ahmad Badawi Mustafa Ayoub with his family. (Courtesy of Samer Badawi)

Ahmad Badawi Mustafa Ayoub with his family. (Courtesy of Samer Badawi)

The Government of Palestine’s Directorate of Education, from its Samaria branch in Nablus, informed Ahmad Badawi Mustafa Ayoub that his teaching duties had been re-assigned on December 8, 1936.

The 35-year-old had 11 days to report to a new school in Deir el-Ghusoun, a village that, according to a 1931 British census, was home to some 450 households, all of them Muslim.

It was in this boys-only school that the third eldest of my five aunts learned to read and write.

While the other village parents kept their young daughters at home, my Palestinian grandfather, the teacher from Samaria, sat his at the classroom’s helm, where the lords of the British Empire held no rein.

In this post-peace era, palls cast over our long negotiation with Israel, these little histories can seem too quaint.

After all, with so many threats against our identity, so many of our people stripped of agency, we Palestinians must spar with an awful present. But in this fight, our family chronicles make for more than wistful conversation. They give us more reasons to endure.

I was reminded of this while scrolling through an archive of my grandfather’s papers, struggling to draw some perspective from the rush of eulogies for Oslo’s ninth life.

What I discovered — in his Ottoman birth certificate, his British teaching credentials, his various letters from this or that Jordanian directorate — was evidence of a life more resolute than the three sovereigns that defined it.

A letter addressed to Ahmad Badawi Mustafa Ayoub from the Deir Ballut District British Inspector. (Courtesy of Samer Badawi)

A letter addressed to Ahmad Badawi Mustafa Ayoub from the Deir Ballut District British Inspector. (Courtesy of Samer Badawi)

Ahmad was born in 1901 to Al-Haj Mustafa Ayoub, a Sufi poet from the village of Majdal Sadeq and was a subject of the vast and waning Ottoman Empire, which had by then ruled Palestine for some 400 years.

When his son was barely out of infancy, Ayoub (Arabic for “Job” the prophet) moved his family to Shweikeh, just outside the northern Palestinian town of Tulkarem. There, Ahmad completed his early schooling before enrolling in Jerusalem’s Rashidiya School.

According to a biography written by another of his grandsons, the day of Ahmad’s departure was a festive one, with neighbors and their children gathering to see the young pupil off. Back then, it seems, it was a sight to behold: a village boy bound for Jerusalem, where only a select few attended its finest institutions.

Rashidiya counts among its alumni the Palestinian nationalist poet Ibrahim Touqan, whose signature work from the 1936 “Arab” Revolt or Palestinian Intifada, (Civil disobedience that lasted 3 years and Britain had to dispatch 100,000 troop to control it) the longest sustained nationalist Palestinian uprising against British Mandatory control, eventually became the lyric to Iraq’s national anthem.

Although Ahmad completed his higher-level teaching certificate there, a British administrator ordered him back to the plains of Tulkarem, where he was to open new schools in the then-distant villages of northern Palestine.

And so he did. In nearly four decades of service to the Palestine he knew, my grandfather helped rear two generations of would-be citizens.

To this day, some of his pupils from that era, all septuagenarians themselves, will recall how ustaz (teacher) Ahmad used to strike fear in the hearts of this or that peer, dissuading others who might foolishly be inclined to mischief.

I knew Sido (grandfather) as terse and forceful, too, but I found these qualities reassuring, like the relentless rhythms of a tightly formed qasidah (poem).

In a devastating elegy to his “suffocated generation,” the Damascene poet Nizar Qabbani counsels the children of the “Arab” nation: “You don’t win a war with a reed and a flute.”

But my grandfather, like so many of his comrades from the time, fought a different kind of war. He outlived Britain’s reign and the Ottomans’ before it, and when he retired, his end-of-service certificate, dated June 19, 1961, came stamped by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s Directorate of Education. In Nablus.

Ahmad Badawi Mustafa Ayoub and his wife, 1981. (Courtesy of Samer Badawi)

Ahmad Badawi Mustafa Ayoub and his wife, 1981. (Courtesy of Samer Badawi)

The last time I saw Sido, he was sitting on the edge of a bed in the basement of my aunt’s home in Amman. The day marked nothing in particular — no anniversary, no celebration, no birth or death.

Yet there he was, ever the school teacher, his kuffiyeh draped over a black suit jacket, now loose over an atrophied frame.

“May I enter, Sido?” I asked in my timid Arabic. He acknowledged my presence, without saying a word, and I walked in to sit beside him. There, seven decades between us, we sat shoulder to shoulder and let the silence have its say.

He would die soon after, at the age of 92, just as Bill Clinton’s “peace” ushered in a new era of displacement and loss.

Like all refugees, Ahmad Badawi Mustafa Ayoub left the world unmoorned, his memories rent from the land that made them. But his story, like Palestine’s itself, will matter well beyond the next negotiation.

No empire, no flag, or sovereign can change that.

Related stories


What’s the point of staff development if career ladders look like traffic jams?

Tough times end promotions and end pay raises.

Maybe it’s better to slow or stop staff development. What can you offer? Don’t raise hopes. However…The people you want on your team want to learn and grow.

If they don’t want to grow, they’re dead-ends. They’ll take you there too.

Mind shift:

Julie Winkle Giulioni, co-author of, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, suggests new attitudes and approaches to “staff development.”


Get rid of phrases like staff development. It sounds like a disease to me. Toss out leadership development and employee development as well. Embrace career development. (Like increasing your general knowledge?)

Reject linear. Career development isn’t simply climbing the corporate ladder. It’s climbing the career wall.

Julie suggests career development looks like rock climbing. Careers move vertically and laterally.

Think nonlinear“Think moving forward and toward rather than upward.” (Julie Winkle Giulioni)

Stop taking responsibility for staff advancement. Help employees take ownership of their development and career path.


Every manager can begin career development dialogs – short, focused, on-going conversations that explore ways to creatively enhance and develop employee talents.

Julie said; focus on employee-talent more than contribution. Talent is about people. Contribution is about organizations.

“For years we’ve heard that ‘talk is cheap.’ Not true.”
Help them Grow or Watch them Go.


Julie says, career advancement begins with managers who:

  1. Facilitate insights and awareness.
  2. Explore possibilities and opportunities.
  3. Inspire responses that drive employee-owned action.


  1. Stretch assignments.
  2. Special projects.
  3. In-department rotations.
  4. Action learning projects or teams.
  5. Job shadowing.
  6. Community service.

If “staff development” makes you anxious, check out, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go.

What career development activities most help you?

What prevents managers from focusing on developing talent?

Mon cher Ado/Nada. Part 51

Aujourd’hui , la France célèbre l’anniversaire de l’Armistice de 1918.

Il y a cent ans les antagonistes européens signaient la paix après une première guerre mondiale qui entraîna la mort de millions d’hommes …Une belle folie meurtrière ! (Et l’accord de “Paix” des pays coloniaux a preparer le chemin pour la seconde guerre et des million d’autre dans tout le monde et les guerres se succedent depuis)

Il n y a pas de quoi pavoiser ma chère Nada .

Pour se consoler d’avoir massacré toute une génération de jeunes hommes qui ne demandaient qu’à vivre en paix auprès de leurs épouses et de leurs parents , et qui de leurs enfants , le président de la République va déposer une gerbe de fleurs sur la tombe du soldat inconnu sous l’Arc de Triomphe à Paris. (Et la France qui a mandate’ la Syrie et le Liban avec des gens pas instruits, puisque les plus cultive’ sont mort “egalitairement”)

Triste sort …

Il y a cent ans aussi , le 11novembre 1918 naissait à Mamou , une ville de la haute Guinée , ma mère …
En ce temps-là , la Guinée était une colonie française , et beaucoup de Libanais de notre village s’y étaient rendus pour y travailler.

Le Liban , toujours sous l’Empire Ottoman, ne leur permettait pas de subvenir à leurs besoins les plus pressants . (Une famine premeditee’ pour punir les Libanais avait decime’ des Libanais et des Syriens)

Et, ce jour-là , au moment où ma mère naissait , les cloches de l’église de Mamou se mirent à sonner la victoire de la France sur l’Allamagne . De ce fait le commandant du cercle de Mamou qui se trouvait chez mes grands-parents , suggéra à ma grand-mère qu’on l’appela Victoire .

Ainsi fut fait . Et ma mère, tout au long de sa vie , elle ne cessait de nous raconter à chaque anniversaire pourquoi elle s’appelait Victoire …

Je crois qu’aujourd’hui , du haut du ciel , elle doit sourire de fierté d’avoir été prénommé Vitoire . Salut maman !


Dans le train de la vie , ma chère Mireille , nous côtoyons toutes sortes de gens .
Comme l’a si bien dit Jean d’Ormesson , nous voyageons avec des bons , des moins bons et des mauvais , voire des très mauvais .

À nous d’essayer d’éviter , dans la mesure du possible , les personnes nuisibles qui s’agitent autour de nous .

Farfoura , ma grand-mère , disait toujours: mon Dieu ! Éloigne de nous l’heure satanique où l’on succombe .

Janséniste sans le savoir , elle s’adonnait à la prière à chaque instant de la journée, surtout en hiver quand elle s’installait des heures durant avec le chapelet à la main, accroupie devant le feu qu’elle remuait d’une main fragile afin que Dieu la protège du mal qui peut nous surprendre à chaque tournant du voyage .

Developing responsible citizens or just leaders?

The more time you dedicate to developing leaders the more successful you’ll become.

Successful leaders develop leaders.

By Dan Rockwell?

You may think your job is explained in a list of responsibilities that include oversee financials, cast vision, hire and fire, etc. That’s only half the picture. If you plan to do great things you must develop great leaders.

When you develop leaders you do less, let others do more.
Your work is working yourself out and working others in.

Five leadership development tips:

  1. Give access. Bring others when you travel, for example.
  2. Share how you think. Explain the reasons behind your behaviors.
  3. Learn how others think. Uncover untapped aptitudes and skills.
  4. Give new challenges. Stretch and test.
  5. Move high performers beyond individual contributors to team builders.
  6. Let others teach you. Ask for and listen to suggestions and advice.

Two leadership development essentials:

The number one thing that taps leadership potential is belief. Believe in them. Belief fuels passion.

Belief gives people the courage to believe in themselves.

But, knowledge comes before belief.

In order for you to believe in someone you must know who they are first. When people feel you understand them
they open their hearts to you.

Leaders manipulate others when they develop people apart from understanding them. The problem is they expect others to be like them.

Leadership development, apart from adapting to others, becomes about strategies and techniques. It becomes about doing this or that. But, authenticity goes down the drain and with it goes passion.

As I write this, I realize I’ve embraced what I didn’t understand. Leadership is about becoming who you are.

Developing leaders is helping people courageously bring themselves to challenges and opportunities.

My goal: spend half my time developing leaders.

What helped you develop your leadership?

How are you developing leaders?


Palestinians Living in limbo: New category in Israel “No thing”

The thousands of undocumented Palestinians in Gaza living in limbo

Thousands of Palestinians in Gaza can’t work, travel, or get health care.

Between the Israeli-controlled population registry and the Fatah-Hamas rivalry, they see little hope for any kind of stable future.

By Amjad Yaghni, a journalist from Gaza

Wafaa Abu Hajjaj has been active in the media industry in Gaza for the past eight years, working as a correspondent for various local and regional television news outlets.

But she has also been deprived of dozens of job opportunities abroad because she doesn’t have a Palestinian identification card. Without it, she can’t be officially employed or access government services.

Abu Hajjaj appealed to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to obtain residency and a passport in 2015, but to no avail. Her 70-year-old father, Abdel Mun’em Abu Hajjaj, suffers from heart disease; he too has been denied access to medical treatment, both in and outside Gaza, for the same reason.

Abu Hajjaj and her father are among thousands of undocumented Palestinians in Gaza.

Israel withdrew its military and civilian presence from the Strip in 2005, but one of the countless ways it still exercises immense control over the lives of Gazans is through its control over the Palestinian population registry.

Many simple types of changes to the registry, including changing the address or place of one’s residence, still require the Israeli army’s approval.

Under the Oslo Accords, which created the Palestinian Authority, only Israel can has the power to authorize the entry of anyone, including Palestinians, into the occupied territories.

Likewise, only Israel has the authority to give residency status for spouses and children of Palestinians, including those living abroad, through a family unification process.

Gaza journalist Wafaa Abu Hjajj. 'For 12 years I’ve been carrying a temporary ID that amounts to nothing.' (Mohamed Al Hajjar)

Gaza journalist Wafaa Abu Hjajj. ‘For 12 years I’ve been carrying a temporary ID that amounts to nothing.’ (Mohamed Al Hajjar)

Also under Oslo, Israel and the Palestinians negotiated the return of 600,000 Palestinians from the diaspora to the occupied territories, according to Saleh al-Zeq, the director of the General Authority for Civil Affairs (GACA) in Gaza. Israel agreed to approve family unification in 5 batches, but since the Second Intifada in 2000, it stopped processing all Palestinian applications for visitor permits and family unification.

When Hamas took over Gaza in June 2007, Israel severed all ties with the Palestinian authorities there, and soon after imposed a blockade on the coastal enclave.

By then, it had already processed four of the groups that were approved under Oslo talks, but the final batch of 4,645 people is still pending to this day, according to al-Zeq.

“When the ministry reviewed our applications for identity cards, I was informed that, since Hamas took over Gaza, family reunions were no longer possible.

For 12 years I’ve been carrying a temporary ID that amounts to nothing,” said Abu Hajjaj. “My ill father can’t travel either. He was supposed to be transferred to the West Bank for treatment, but when the doctor realized he doesn’t have a proper Palestinian ID card or travel documents, he cancelled the transfer,” she added.

Abu Hajjaj and her family arrived to Gaza in 1998. (Forced transfer)

Her father, a Palestinian refugee, received temporary travel papers from Egypt and worked as a teacher in Saudi Arabia. He would go back to Egypt every four years to renew his work and travel authorization, but when he eventually returned to Gaza, he became a resident without status and could no longer travel.

Abu Hajjaj describes this predicament as a double siege: that of the Israeli government, and that of the Palestinian identification process.

Rola Abu Obeid and her brother Mohammed. (Mohamed Al Hajjar)

Rola Abu Obeid and her brother Mohammed. (Mohamed Al Hajjar)

The Abu Obaid family sought to return to Gaza after escaping the war in Iraq. Their Palestinian grandfather, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), had emigrated to Baghdad a few years before the 1967 war broke.

But decades later, three months into the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the family fled to the Ruwaished Refugee Camp in eastern Jordan. The family of seven spent a year in the camp, but could not obtain a permit to enter and live in Jordan, since the government’s policy at that time only allowed entry for Palestinians who were married to Jordanian nationals.

They then tried their luck in Egypt. The Rafah crossing between Egypt in Gaza had been closed for an extended period, until Palestinian militants blasted a hole in the barrier, allowing them to cross into the Strip.

The family arrived in Gaza in 2006, hoping to rebuild their lives there. More than a decade after their return, they still haven’t been able to register as Palestinian residents.

Rola Abu Obeid, 22, is in her third year of English literature studies at Al-Azhar University in Gaza. “Whenever I present my temporary ID card, people point out that I am not from here and question my Palestinian-ness,” she said. “I don’t feel Palestinian because people treat me as if I am not.”

Three years ago, Rola, who maintains a high GPA and is fluent in English, received a scholarship from a university in London. When she learned that she could not accept the scholarship without a Palestinian ID in hand, her father tried to pressure the scholarship directors, but to no avail.

Last September, she was denied participation at the 2018 World Youth Conference in Egypt for the same reason.

Without official residency status, members of the Abu Obeid family are unlikely to find lawful employment. They can’t be treated in public hospitals, relying instead on private clinics for health services, which can get very expensive.

Haitham Mohammad Hussein Abu Hani, 35 years old, entered Gaza in 2008 after Hamas militants destroyed parts of the fence once again to circumvent the Israeli blockade.

With former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s approval, tens of thousands of Palestinians crossed into Sinai to stock up on fuel and shop for food, while Palestinians in Egypt who had not been granted visitation permits or family unification took the opportunity to return to Gaza.

Abu Hani was born in Egypt to a Palestinian father who fled there after the 1967 war.

With the signing of the Oslo Accords, Abu Hani, who was 12 at the time, sought to return to Gaza, where his two brothers served in the PA security forces. His family unification request was denied on the grounds that he was too young. In 1998, he applied again but didn’t hear back.

Abu Hani, like the Hajjaj family, carries Egyptian travel papers, which have expired since his return to Gaza.

Despite being married to a woman with Palestinian residency, he hasn’t been able to obtain a Palestinian ID card or passport through her. Meanwhile, he cannot apply for jobs and his financial situation is only getting worse.

“I can’t travel or study abroad, I can’t go on Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) or even visit my mother in Egypt,” he said. “Now I am truly living in a prison. Even if Rafah crossing were to open for days, I wouldn’t be allowed to go through.”

Haitham Mohammad Hussein Abu Hani and his two daughters. 'I can’t travel or study abroad, I can’t go on Hajj or even visit my mother in Egypt.' (Mohamed Al Hajjar)

Haitham Mohammad Hussein Abu Hani and his two daughters. ‘I can’t travel or study abroad, I can’t go on Hajj or even visit my mother in Egypt.’ (Mohamed Al Hajjar)

Abu Hani has pushed for the Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs to review his case several times, but he keeps getting the same response: Israel is responsible for the delays.

Hussein al-Sheikh, the Palestinian minister of civil affairs, has brought up the issue more than once with the Israeli government, according to Abdel Rahim Lubad, the head of public relations of GACA in Gaza. Israel has consistently used security considerations as an excuse to deny these requests, he said.

What more, Palestinians who, like Abu Hani and the Abu Obaid family, returned to Gaza through the Rafah crossing without an Israeli-approved visitor permit fall under a separate category, according to Mohammad Makadma, the spokesperson for GACA in Gaza. This group can’t be issued Palestinian identification cards because their residency is subject to final status peace negotiations with Israel, said Makadma.

But Gazans are not only at the mercy of the Israeli Civil Administration. Since only the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority can issue IDs and make additions to the population registry, it uses the process to pressure and punish its political rival, Hamas, which rules over Gaza.

“People look at me as if I am foreign, and the authorities governing Gaza and the West Bank don’t treat us as Palestinians who have rights,” said Rola Abu Obaid’s brother, Mohammed. “I believe it is their responsibility to pressure the Israeli government to issue IDs for us. I dream of traveling, but after witnessing the obstacles my sister had to face, I lost hope.”

A spokesperson for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the Israeli military body responsible for administering the Israeli occupation and which controls Palestinians’ movement in and out of Gaza, sent the following response: “According to the [Oslo] interim agreement, the Palestinian Authority was authorized to manage the Palestinian population registry, while Israel merely holds a copy of the registry. On some affairs, changes may warrant an agreement from the Israeli side, and on other issues, sending a message suffices.”


Mon cher Ado/Fouad. Part 50

Hier , mon cher Fouad , j’ai été voir notre ancien professeur de peinture : JOSEPH MATAR , dans sa seigneurie sur les hauteurs de Byblos .

J’ai retrouvé le jeune homme que j’ai connu dans les années soixante , toujours bouillonnant , la verve intarissable …
De plus , il a gardé à plus de 70 ans , un regard vif qui scrute tous les détails alentours .

Il nous a montré son domaine qui s’étend sur des km et où il plante entre autres fruits et légumes , des fleurs qu’il cultive sous serres par des ouvriers qui vivent chez lui et pour lesquels il a construit un immeuble au milieu de ses terres. Époustouflant Joseph Matar !

A l’intérieur de sa maison , les murs sont tapissés de tableaux , plus beaux les uns que les autres , à travers lesquels je me suis revu dans la classe de troisième , à Jounieh , au collège des frères maristes , avec notre professeur de peinture qui s’évertuait à nous initier à l’art pictural .

Un art que j’ai surtout admiré lors de mes voyages en Italie , à Rome , comme à Florence , et ailleurs encore , lorsque j’accompagnais mes élèves , nos petits Parisiens , avec la très chère Françoise Ravanel, leur professeur d’italien …(Now, that’s a good life to retire to)

Enfin , le vieux Joe, toujours alerte , nous a montré , dans le sous-sol de sa grande maison , son atelier où il peint toujours et où il a entassé des dizaines de tableaux qu’il pense exposer un jour …

En nous quittant après nous avoir offert un bon café , et chargé ma femme de trois bouquets de fleurs de toutes les couleurs , nous nous sommes promis de nous revoir, pour parler d’un âne , car Monseigneur Joseph Matar , avait conté un jour l’histoire de l’âne que jadis il a connu …

Any comfort to know the assassin of a young relative? After 20 years of the event? (Short story)

“Notre petite Isabel, desole’ de te laisser un tel fardeau. Tu m’ a donne’ plus de bonheur que je n’en ai jamais merite’ ”

Apres ces revelations, j’ai su que le pere, Jean-Paul, etait l’assassin de Janie (17 ans), il y a 20 ans de cela.

C’est un tour de genie de Liane Moriarty dans “Le secret du mari” de condenser une longue letter de Jean-Paul a sa femme Cecilia, une lettre qu’elle ne devait l’ouvrire qu’apres sa mort. On lit la lettre complete 2 chapitres apres.

Apparemment, JeanPaul avait ecrit cette lettre apres la naissance de sa premiere fille Isabel, apres s’etre soule’ (l’excuse traditionelle) et qu’ il avait l’intention de detruire la lettre et l’avait oublier dans une de ces boites a chaussures ou’ il classifiait ses documents.

Jean-Paul avait aussi 17 ans et fou d’amour de Janie. Janie et Jean Paul ont garde’ leur relation secrete de tout le monde, amis et parents. Il a etrangle’Janie apres lui avoir dit qu’elle aimait un autre garson, un peu plus age’.

C’est pour cette raison que la police ne l’a jamais interroge’. Il avait dit a Cecilia: “Si la police m’avait interroge’, j’aurais confesse'”. Pas sure que sa mere Virginia l’aurait encourage’: elle sut que son aine’ Jean-Paul etait l’assassin du chapele’ special autour des mains de Janie.

Jean-Paul ne peut pas encore croire que les quelques secondes de ses larges mains autour du coup de Janie pouvait la faire mourire.

Je suis au tier du bouquin, et les traces d’une condition prealable de sante’ de Janie sont nombreuses: Difficulte’ de respirer, maux dans le dos, tres fragile… et son pere est mort aussi d’une crise cardiaque devastatrice 20 ans apres…

Se plot d’oublier la lettre dans une boite est trop incroyable, meme si c’est convenient pour l’histoire. Non, ca ne tient pas debout.

Si Jean-Paul voulait qu’une persone connaisse la verite’, une sorte de confession pour l’ apres mort condition, il aurait laisse’ la lettre avec son notaire pour l’ouvire apres sa mort et decider a qui relayait le secret.

Un notaire de valeur morale aurait contacte’ le chef de la police pour classer l’affaire et de ne rien dire a la famille de Jean -Paul ou celle de Janie.

An old man in the psych group said: “The assassin is serving a life sentence. And it is still Not a comfort for me

And what if this prisoner would be let free within 20 years? Instead of sorrow and anger, most probably fear will set in?

Personne n’a vraiment interet a connaitre l’assassin apres 30-40 ans de l’affaire. I n’ a pas de recomfort a cette confession tardes: La plupart sont deja’ mort, suite a leur chagrin.

There is no comfort for people who refuse to sustain any period of comfort, as if this is a capital sin, like killing an innocent person, or being perceived a coward in the struggle to survive.

Note: Ce rire meprisant qui decompose le visage, surtout apres avoir affirme’: “J’ aime une autre personne”. Ce rire, qui veut sortir d’une situation trop encombrante, a tue’ beaucoup de jeunes (surtout des filles) et embarasse’ beaucoup de jeunes adolescents pour la vie.





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