Hebrew Voices #9 – The Palestinian Bicycle Refugees of Norway (Rebroadcast)

Palestinian bicycle refugees of NormayIn this episode of Hebrew Voices, Nehemia Gordon discovers the Palestinian bicycle refugees of Norway. During some free time after a speaking event in Stavanger, Norway he went searching for the hordes of Syrian and Afghani refugees fleeing from war and persecution. Instead he found Palestinians from Lebanon who rode into Norway hoping for a life of peace and dignity after being treated as second-class citizens for three generations in Lebanon.  Please share with me your comments below.

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Transcript

Hebrew Voices #9 - The Palestinian Bicycle Refugees of Norway

You are listening to Hebrew Voices with Nehemia Gordon. Thank you for supporting Nehemia Gordon's Makor Hebrew Foundation. Learn more at NehemiasWall.com.

Benjamin Netanyahu: Le ma’an Zion lo ekhesheh, u’l’ma’an Yerushalayim lo eshkot. (For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest. Isaiah 62:1)

Nehemia: Shalom, this is Nehemia Gordon with Hebrew Voices, coming to you from Stavanger, Norway. I just finished a 10-day speaking tour in Holland, Sweden, and finally, here in Norway. Everywhere I went, the street was abuzz with talk of the refugee crisis. Hordes of Syrian and Afghanis are flooding into European countries. International media is reporting how the refugees are fleeing for their lives from the civil war in Syria and the carnage of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS.

Many are also fleeing from the Taliban in Afghanistan - at least, that’s the official story. Now, I had some free time in Norway, and I asked my hosts to take me to see the refugees. The regional news video reported that they are being housed in a local three-star hotel called The First Hotel Alstor in Stavanger. We headed over to the hotel and spoke to the refugees, who we found smoking cigarettes in the parking lot. At one point it was cold, so we tried to continue interviews in the lobby, but we were kicked out by a large, burly Norseman from hotel security. [laughing]

All the refugees I spoke to crossed the border from Russia on bicycle. There’s a peculiar Russian law that only allows people to cross the frozen border into Norway by vehicle, and that includes bikes. The refugees purchased the bicycles at the border and crossed over into Norway, where they are given all the benefits of someone fleeing from war. Now, the official narrative is that these refugees fled to Norway because of war and persecution. However, the refugees themselves were eager to tell me that they left their countries of origin because of unemployment and crime. They were very clear about this. Some described local mafias and criminal gangs as the reason for seeking a better life in Norway. In fact, none of these so-called “refugees” came to Norway itself to escape war. They all came across the border from Russia after spending time in Moscow, where the authorities were less than welcoming. Some told me that the Russian police interrogated them at length.

They eventually chose to bike into Norway, where the Norwegian nanny state provides them with a generous assistance package. They get a free hotel room, clothing, food, and even a monthly cash stipend. In fact, the government of Norway gives them $145 for every adult - that’s 1,260 Norwegian Kroners - and $102 per child - 890 Norwegian Kroners - that’s $494 per month for a family of four, free and clear, after living expenses! Now, look, it’s not a lot of money but, you know, that might be more than some of these people make in their home countries.

Now, many of the refugees at the hotel were Palestinians whose grandparents left Israel during the War of Independence in 1948. The people I spoke to were born in Lebanon but were never granted Lebanese citizenship. You see, the Palestinians have a unique status under international law. When fighting ends in a war, the refugees who can’t return to their country of origin must be given citizenship in the country where they first sought refuge, or in a third country. However, when the Israeli War of Independence ended, the Palestinian refugees were kept in a permanent state of refugeehood. In fact, the descendants of many of the Palestinian refugees today live under Palestinian rule in Gaza and the West Bank, but they are still classified by the United Nations as refugees. In other words, they live in Palestine, under Palestinian rule, but are classified as Palestinian refugees by the United Nations.

Now, let’s compare the case of the seven million Indian Muslims who fled to Pakistan during the 1947 war between India and Pakistan. These Muslims and their ancestors had lived in what became India from time immemorial, probably for thousands of years. But when they arrived in Pakistan as refugees, they were quickly integrated into their new country and granted full rights as citizens. In contrast, with the partial exception of Jordan, the Arab nations who received their Palestinian Arab brothers as refugees in 1948 refused to grant them citizenship. Their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are still considered refugees today. Treating the descendants of refugees as refugees is actually against international law. However, the United Nations, in league with the Arab states, has subjected the Palestinians to a special exemption from international law, so that their descendants, for the rest of time, will be considered refugees.

This is unprecedented anywhere in the world! There have been dozens of conflicts in the last 70 years, and only the Palestinians and their descendants are kept in a permanent state of refugeehood. Just to be clear, this is not a privilege granted to the Palestinians. Quite the opposite. The second and third generation of Palestinians are refugees in the country in which they were born, which means living an entire lifetime as second-class citizens.

Refugees can’t vote. They don’t have the same rights as citizens. Worst of all, refugees in Lebanon were not allowed to work until 2010, forcing them to survive off of United Nations aid or work illegally, often in local crime syndicates. Even today they are not allowed to own land in Lebanon or work in many industries.

Now, as a descendant of a Jewish refugee from Lithuania who was born in the United States, I have great empathy for the Palestinian refugees. I can only imagine what it would be like to be legally classified as a “refugee” in the country where I was born, denied the right to vote, denied the right to work a normal job, forced to live off of UN handouts. What kind of life is that? No wonder they came to Norway, looking for a better life.

While the world sees the refugees flooding into Europe as a crisis, I see it as an opportunity to finally provide some dignity for those Palestinians who have been kept as second-class citizens in Arab nations for 68 years. By international law and convention, these people who were born in Lebanon and Syria, should have been granted citizenship. Instead, they were held hostage to a murderous anti-Semitic agenda bent on destroying Israel. Now, after all these years, there will finally be resolution for the descendants of those Arabs who left Israel in 1948.

I have to tell you, I was standing there in the cold Norwegian parking lot, I was overcome with joy when a 22-year-old Palestinian woman told me she was pregnant. I was so excited that after 68 years and three generations of refugee status, her unborn daughter would finally be treated like a human being and given citizenship in the country where she was born. I asked the expectant mother, “Will your daughter be Lebanese? Will she be Palestinian? Will she be Norwegian?” Without hesitation, the mother responded with this broad smile on her face, “She will be Norwegian.” And her 26-year-old husband eagerly agreed, “Norwegian.” I sincerely wish these Palestinian-Lebanese Arabs peace and prosperity in their new homeland. The Oslo Accords have finally come home to roost. Here is my encounter with the Palestinian bicycle refugees of Norway.

Nehemia: Where are you guys from?

Man: Palestine.

Nehemia: You’re from Palestine?

Man: Yes.

Nehemia: Are you refugees here?

Men: Yes.

Nehemia: Can I talk to you? I have a radio program and I want to tell the world what’s going on.

Man: Yes, but my language is limited.

Nehemia: It’s okay. No problem. So what is your name? I’m recording, okay?

Man: Okay, no problem.

Nehemia: Radio. Hello. What is your name, where are you from?

Ahmed: Ahmed, Egypt.

Nehemia: You’re from Egypt. Are you a refugee?

Ahmed: Yeah.

Nehemia: So tell me about who you are. What’s your name?

Hussein: My name is Hussein Abdullah.

Nehemia: Okay.

Hussein: I’m Palestinian. I live in Lebanon, camps in Lebanon.

Nehemia: A refugee camp?

Hussein: Yes.

Nehemia: Oh, okay. Where were you born?

[background conversation]

Hussein: I am born in Lebanon.

Nehemia: Oh, excellent. You come, come.

Hussein: Yes, I am born in Lebanon, yes.

Nehemia: Okay, but you’re Palestinian?

Hussein: Yes, my nationality is Palestine.

Nehemia: When did your family come to Lebanon from Palestine?

Hussein: From 1948.

Nehemia: 1948. And since 1948 they were in Lebanon?

Hussein: Since 1948, yes.

Nehemia: And when did you come to Norway?

Hussein: About 15 days ago.

Nehemia: 15 days ago.

Hussein: Yes.

Nehemia: Okay. How did you get to Norway from Lebanon?

Hussein: From Russia.

Nehemia: From Russia?

Hussein: Yes.

Nehemia: What? How did you get to Russia from Lebanon?

Hussein: By tourist visa, tourist, yeah.

Nehemia: Oh, you had a tourist…? Okay.

Hussein: Yes, and I come to Norway and Russia border.

Nehemia: How did you get across the border?

Hussein: By bicycle.

Nehemia: By bicycle. [laughing]

Hussein: Yes, yes, yes. It’s real, yes. It’s real.

Nehemia: Wow, you rode a bicycle across the border. Why did you leave Lebanon?

Hussein: Because Lebanon has many problems and very big problems like the war and like security. So Lebanon’s not safe for Palestinian people.

Nehemia: Oh, what happened in Lebanon for Palestinian people? I don’t know. Where in Lebanon were you living?

Hussein: In a camp.

Nehemia: What was the name of the camp?

Hussein: Mieh Mieh.

Nehemia: Where’s that?

Hussein: Near Ain al-Hilweh camp. It’s inside that.

Nehemia: Is that near Beirut? I don’t know.

Hussein: No, no, no. It’s in the south of Lebanon.

Nehemia: Near what big city?

Hussein: It has two camps, Ain Hilweh and Mieh Mieh.

Nehemia: And you’re from Mieh Mieh?

Hussein: Yes, from Mieh Mieh camp.

Nehemia: And what big city is that near, something I would know?

Hussein: Mieh Mieh is not safe… All the time not safe.

Nehemia: Never safe. So why come now?

Hussein: I come to here to refuge, and Norway is a very beautiful country and a very safe country, and they love Palestinian people and help Palestinian people. It’s very nice, very nice country.

Nehemia: So was there a war in Mieh Mieh? A war in your…? Like was there fighting there? Who was fighting?

[background conversation]

Hussein: Yes, yes, yes. In Mieh Mieh camp and Ain al-Hilweh camp at night, someone killed one, and don’t know who’s him. It’s a very big problem. It’s not safe. You stay in your house, close your doors.

Nehemia: Is it Hezbollah, is it Daesh, who’s fighting there?

Hussein: No, not like this, but…

Man: Palestinians are, yes.

Nehemia: I don’t understand. What did he say? Palestinians are fighting?

Man: Big mafia. Big mafia.

Nehemia: Oh, so there’s crime there. Palestinians are killing other Palestinians.

Hussein: Another, yes another. Yes.

Nehemia: Is that right, that Palestinians are killing other Palestinians?

Hussein: Yes, yes, yes. Yes, like this and…

[background conversation]

Nehemia: Translate for him. Say it in Arabic.

[background conversation]

Man: It’s like a serial killer. A mystery killer. No one knows. Murdered him.

Nehemia: Oh, okay.

[background conversation]

Man: We have a fight with guns, bullets. Anybody innocent would die.

Nehemia: Okay, so because of that – ask him – he decided to come here to Norway?

[background conversation]

Man: Yes, he can’t go to his job. It’s not safe there.

Nehemia: Okay. So you say you came on a tourist visa to Russia. Did you take an airplane?

Hussein: Yes, I came by airplane, yes.

Nehemia: Okay. And then, where did you fly into, did you fly in from Beirut? To where in Russia?

Hussein: To Moscow.

Nehemia: And how did you get from Moscow to Norway?

Man: From Moscow he took a…

Hussein: By taxis, yes. By taxi.

Nehemia: You took a taxi to the border?

Hussein: Yes, yes. It’s a long way.

Nehemia: How many hours?

Hussein: And very hard way.

Nehemia: Did you come with your family?

Hussein: Yes, with my wife, yes.

Nehemia: Can I talk to your wife?

Hussein: I don’t know.

Nehemia: She’s shy?

Hussein: She’s not speaking English.

Woman: Oh, this is your wife here?

Hussein: Yes, yes. And this is my friend.

Nehemia: Oh, are you also…?

Hussein: And he lived in the same camp in Lebanon.

Nehemia: Oh, you’re also from Mieh Mieh?

Hussein: Yes, yes. The same.

Nehemia: Oh, hello. So are you also Palestinian?

Man: Yes.

[background conversation]

Nehemia: When did your family come to Lebanon from Palestine?

[background conversation]

Nehemia: Can you translate?

[background conversation]

Man: 1948.

Nehemia: Where was your family from, in Palestine?

Man: Where in Palestine? Haifa.

Nehemia: From Haifa.

Man: Yes.

Nehemia: And where was your family in Palestine?

Man: From Haifa.

Nehemia: Oh, you’re both from Haifa, okay. And why did you also leave from Mieh Mieh, also because of the same reason?

[background conversation]

Man: Yes, yes, the same.

Hussein: It’s a big gang right there.

Nehemia: Are you also… Where are you from?

Man: No, I’m Syrian.

Nehemia: We’ll talk to you next, okay.

[laughter]

Man: No, I’m too cold.

Nehemia: No, no. I’ll go inside and talk to you. Okay. So what do you hope to do here in Norway? Do you want to live here?

Man: A safe life.

Nehemia: You just want to live here, is that right? Or do you want to go back to Lebanon?

[background conversation]

Man: Safe life. Away from murderers, killing, gangsters, you know?

Nehemia: You don’t want to ever go back to Lebanon?

Man: No, no, no.

Nehemia: What about to Haifa?

Man: Why not, why not?

Nehemia: You want to go back to Haifa?

Man: Yes, yes.

Nehemia: Okay. So why go to Norway, why not to Haifa? Can you go to Haifa?

Woman: No, Haifa. No.

Man: No, Haifa. Tell me how I can go to Haifa and I’ll go quickly. [laughing]

Nehemia: Oh, you would love to go to Haifa, but instead Norway?

Man: Yes, yes. It’s my lovely country.

Nehemia: You were where?

Man: It’s our land.

Nehemia: It’s your land? Okay.

Man: Our land.

Nehemia: Okay, so do you dream of Lebanon, or do you dream of Haifa?

Man: Haifa.

Nehemia: Have you ever been to Haifa?

Man: Yes.

Nehemia: Have you been to Haifa or only your…?

Man: No, no, my father. My father. My father. My father and mother.

Nehemia: Your father and mother?

Man: Yes, yes.

Nehemia: Oh, you’re a citizen of Lebanon? Do you have a Lebanese passport?

Man: No, no, no.

Nehemia: What’s your passport?

[background conversation]

Woman: It’s beautiful.

Man: It’s just a document.

Nehemia: Which says what? That they’re Lebanese, or…?

Man: No, it’s Palestinian living in Lebanon.

Nehemia: Would you be allowed to go to… Don’t they have Palestinians in, what’s it called, Gaza? Can’t you go to Gaza?

Man: Gaza?

Nehemia: Gaza, yeah. Or Ramallah, or…?

Man: Gaza not for me.

Nehemia: Jenin?

Man: Only Haifa, al-Quds, and Safed, and this whole country.

Nehemia: Okay, so what is that, only Haifa… Al-Quds is Jerusalem, right?

Man: Yes, yes.

Nehemia: So you say no Ramallah…

Man: No, no. I don’t have…

Nehemia: Just it’s Jerusalem or Haifa.

Man: I don’t have anything in Ramallah.

Nehemia: Okay.

Man: Our land is from Haifa, from Safed, from Acre. This is our land.

Nehemia: Akko, okay. Wow.

Man: That’s our land. That’s my land.

Nehemia: Okay. What are you going to do here in Lebanon? What is your profession… Or, in Norway? What’s your job?

[background conversation]

Woman: And you’re from Syria.

Man: Yeah.

Man: I don’t know, but I think…

Man: I’m working as a butcher.

Nehemia: You were a butcher?

Man: I’m working at this job.

Nehemia: You were a butcher?

Man: Yeah.

Nehemia: Butcher like animals?

Man: Yes, yes.

Nehemia: What do you butcher?

Man: A butcher, like animals and cows, sheep.

Nehemia: Oh, okay. That’s what you did in Mieh Mieh?

Man: Yes.

Nehemia: Okay. And what did you do in Mieh Mieh?

[background conversation]

Man: Taxi driver.

Nehemia: A taxi driver, oh. Does Norway need taxi drivers? I don’t know. All right, very good. Are you going to learn Norwegian?

Man: But we search just safe here.

[background conversation]

Man: Of course, they will learn.

Nehemia: Okay. All right, wonderful. Well, thank you for talking to me.

Man: Thank you.

Nehemia: Shukran.

Man: Nice to meet you. Thank you.

Nehemia: Shukran. Now, would you talk to me inside?

Man: No, I’m no. I don’t think now, actually, today I was playing football. I’m going to have a bath.

Nehemia: Oh, give me five minutes, please.

Man: Why?

Nehemia: Because you’re so interesting, and you speak English so well!

Man: Anybody could speak.

Nehemia: You find me someone who speaks English well, I’ll go inside with you, okay? I know you’re cold. How old are you?

Boy: I’m 15.

Nehemia: And where are you from, in Syria?

Boy: Aleppo.

Nehemia: Aleppo. Okay, and how long have you been here in Norway?

Boy: Just for two weeks.

Nehemia: Two weeks. How did you get here?

Boy: Same way.

Nehemia: What do you mean, you took an airplane from Aleppo?

Boy: No. We were in Moscow, and then from Moscow to here.

Nehemia: How did you get to Moscow?

Boy: We were there a few months ago.

Nehemia: How did you get there from Aleppo?

Boy: By plane.

Nehemia: You flew from Aleppo to Moscow?

Boy: No, not Aleppo, exactly.

Nehemia: Where did you fly from?

Man: [inaudible 17:31]

Nehemia: Oh, really. Okay, who are you?

Man: I’m like him.

Nehemia: So what are you telling me?

Man: You’re not supposed to…

Nehemia: What am I not supposed to do? I’m recording this, yeah.

Man: What you are doing now.

Nehemia: I can’t talk to him?

Man: No.

Nehemia: Is there a law that says I’m not allowed to talk to him?

Man: Yes, this is what we were told, that we cannot talk. I’m sorry.

Nehemia: Okay, and if I do, will you call the police, or something?

Man: Maybe.

Nehemia: Okay, so call the police while I talk, okay?

Man: We can do it later.

Nehemia: Can we do it outside?

Man: No, actually. It’s cold, really.

Nehemia: Can you find me someone who speaks English who will come outside and talk to me?

Man: I’ll try to find.

Nehemia: From Syria.

Man: From Syria, exactly?

Nehemia: Please, from Syria. I’ve talked to the Palestinians.

Man: Actually, there’s not many Syrians here.

Nehemia: Oh.

[background conversation]

Nehemia: What did she say?

[background conversation]

Man: They’ve just called a girl. She’s just…

Nehemia: Oh, thank you.

Man: She will come.

Nehemia: Okay, so while she’s coming, so tell me - so you got to Moscow, how did you get to Moscow? Why did you leave Aleppo? Was it dangerous in Aleppo?

Man: Yeah, very dangerous.

Nehemia: What happened?

Man: War, everything.

Nehemia: Are you Sunni or are you Shia?

Man: I’m Sunni.

Nehemia: Sunni? Okay. Okay. And yes.

Security: Stop this.

Nehemia: Okay, who are you?

Security: Stop it.

Nehemia: Who are you?

Security: Come with me, outside.

Nehemia: Okay.

[background conversation]

Security: You can stand outside and talk to these people, but not inside.

Nehemia: So can you send somebody to talk to me?

Man: Okay.

Nehemia: Okay, thank you.

Okay, I’ve been kicked out of the hotel by the Norwegian Security here, which is okay. We’ll wait for somebody else to come out. All right.

Hello, where are you from? No, you don’t want to talk to me? Oh, you don’t speak English.

Man: No English.

Nehemia: Okay. Hello, do you guys speak English?

Man: Yeah, yeah.

Nehemia: Where are you from?

Man: Pakistan.

Nehemia: Are you refugees? Can I record you? Can I talk to you?

Man: Yes.

Nehemia: Okay. What are you doing here in Norway?

Man: I have there a problem in my country.

Nehemia: What’s the problem?

Man: I was there two mobile shops.

Nehemia: There what?

Man: Two mobile shops.

Nehemia: Two mobile shops, okay.

Man: Yes, and you know, Pakistani politics, they…

Nehemia: I don’t know Pakistani politics at all. I know nothing.

Man: They want money. If you give money, all things are right, good. If you’re not giving money, they will hit you, shoot you or more things.

Man: They can kill you.

Nehemia: They’ll kill you, okay.

Man: One people, I will give some mobiles…

Nehemia: Mobile phones, like this?

Man: Da, yeah, yeah.

Nehemia: Do you speak Russian?

Man: Yeah. A little bit.

Nehemia: Because you said, “Da,” okay. I don’t speak Russian. All right. Only English.

Man: And then they not give me my money or my balance. I said, “Give me my money” a lot of time. And he said, “I don’t have money.” And they belong to another party, you know, like a political party.

Nehemia: Let’s stand here under the… It’s raining. I’m standing under the awning. Yeah, okay.

Man: Then he said, “Come to me, I will give you money.” I went there in these people’s car, and we went some place, like their building.

Nehemia: So long story short, they wanted to hurt you, or what happened?

Man: Yeah, yeah. They are hurting, there are many mafia parties, like mafia, NQM, like CPO.

Nehemia: I don’t know what that is. So you’re pointing to your eye. What is this, is this a tattoo?

Man: You know, a pistol butt.

Nehemia: Oh, they hit you in the eye with a pistol?

Man: Yeah, here.

Nehemia: Oh, they hit you!

Man: Yes.

Nehemia: Oh, I can’t see. Here, let me see in the light. Okay, so they hit you in the head with a pistol. Oh, okay. And so you came here because it was dangerous, is that right?

Man: Yeah, and you know, bike…

Nehemia: One second. Are you the Syrian lady who’s going to talk to me in English?

Man: No, Palestinian.

Nehemia: Oh, you’re Palestinian. Would you talk to me? Do you speak English?

Man: Yeah.

Nehemia: Okay. All right. Can you wait one minute? I want to finish with these Pakistani people. How did you get here, to…?

Man: Then they hit me like, you know, with motorcycle chains.

Nehemia: Oh, no. So how did you get from Pakistan to Norway?

Man: No, first we came to Russia. We came from Moscow to here.

Nehemia: Why did you come? It’s too cold in Moscow?

Man: No, in Moscow also too much problems there, because…

Man: We have all documents, but the Russian police sometimes…

Man: Touching us, yeah.

Nehemia: Touching you? What do you mean?

Man: Torching.

Nehemia: Torturing?

Man: Like if you have all documents in Russia, they will say, “Show me documents,” the police.

Man: And then they’re taking us to the police station.

Man: Sitting three hours, four hours. Then they let you go.

Nehemia: So why did you decide… How did you get to Norway, by bicycle?

Man: Yeah, by bicycle.

Nehemia: Oh, you’re the bicycle people, okay. And how did you get to the border from Moscow?

Man: From Moscow to Murmansk City, we came to…

Man: By air.

Nehemia: By air, and then from Murmansk…?

Man: From Murmansk by taxi.

Nehemia: Taxi, okay.

Man: Came to the border.

Man: Nikel, Nikel.

Nehemia: What’s Nikel? It’s a city?

Man: Nikel is area, city, yes. So we came to Nikel, and then after Nikel we came by bicycle, 100 meters…

Nehemia: Oh, okay. Wow. And how did you get from there to here?

Man: Yeah.

Nehemia: How did you get from the border of Norway down to Stavanger?

Man: By sea. We were first in Kirkenes, in the camp.

Man: When we came to the Norway, they shift us camp.

Nehemia: By bus? How did you get there?

Man: No bus, by cycle.

Nehemia: Oh, you rode your bicycle to the refugee camp?

Man: Yeah, into the Norway.

Nehemia: Oh, wow.

Man: They were moving us to refugee camps, and then we lived there, four or five days. Then we moved by air.

Nehemia: So what is your goal here? What do you want to do in Norway?

Man: We have to save our life, first.

Nehemia: To save your life?

Man: Yeah, because in Pakistan, we are from Karachi…

Nehemia: Oh, Karachi.

Man: We are from Karachi City, so there are many mafias there.

Man: Every day there is…

Nehemia: Are you guys Muslims?

Men: Yeah.

Nehemia: How do you feel you’re being treated here as Muslims in Norway?

Man: It’s very good.

Man: We treated like Christian, Muslim, and Hindu.

Man: There is no issue you like this.

Man: In Norway, people are very peaceful or polite, and loving people. We like.

Nehemia: Well, thank you for talking to me.

Man: Thank you, very much.

Woman: Okay, welcome.

Man: Thank you.

Nehemia: What are your names?

Maryam: Maryam.

Nehemia: And you?

Freddy: I’m Freddy.

Nehemia: Freddy? And where are you guys from? Oh, this is your husband.

Maryam: Yeah.

Freddy: Yes.

Nehemia: Thank you. Where are you guys from?

Maryam: I’m Palestinian, but lived in Lebanon.

Nehemia: Okay, and where are you from?

Freddy: Yes.

Nehemia: Oh, you are also a Palestinian… from where in Lebanon?

Maryam: From Saida (Sidon).

Nehemia: Where?

Freddy: Saida, south.

Nehemia: Saida, is that a city, Saida?

Freddy: Yes.

Nehemia: Is it a refugee camp?

Freddy: Yeah, a camp.

Nehemia: Okay, a camp.

Freddy: A camp for Palestinians.

Nehemia: Saida, okay. Where is it near?

Maryam: You know Ain al-Hilweh camp?

Nehemia: I don’t. What is it called? Ain al…?

Freddy: Ain al-Hilweh camp.

Nehemia: Ain al-Hilweh. The other man was Mieh Mieh. Are you near there?

Freddy: Yeah, near.

Nehemia: Oh, you’re neighbors.

Freddy: Yeah.

Nehemia: Okay, you’re nearby, okay. And how old are you?

Freddy: I’m 26.

Nehemia: May I talk to your wife? Can I ask, how old are you?

Maryam: 22.

Nehemia: Oh, you’re 22 years old and 26, and you’ve come to this. It’s so cold here. Is this colder than Lebanon?

Maryam: Not really. No, Lebanon is colder, yeah.

Freddy: Not same, it’s cold…

Nehemia: What is, Lebanon is?

Maryam: Norway, it’s so beautiful.

Nehemia: I didn’t understand. What’s…?

Maryam: It’s so beautiful, there.

Nehemia: The weather here?

Maryam: No.

Nehemia: In Lebanon. Oh, so the weather is Lebanon is beautiful, and here, it’s good or bad?

Maryam: Cold.

Nehemia: Cold, it’s very cold. [laughing]

Freddy: But the life in Lebanon not good.

Nehemia: Oh, so what’s wrong with the life in Lebanon?

Freddy: Too much problem, bomb and fighting. Fighting people.

Nehemia: Who’s fighting?

Freddy: People, Islamic people, and…

Maryam: People hurt each other.

Freddy: … with each other, too much problems.

Nehemia: So there’s fighting in Lebanon.

Freddy: Yeah.

Nehemia: And you said, Islamic people. Is that Hezbollah, or Daesh?

Freddy: Hezbollah, Amal, yeah, Daesh. Too much.

Nehemia: There’s Daesh, and who are you fighting, ISIS?

Freddy: No, not Daesh, only Daesh coming and boom.

Nehemia: In Lebanon?

Freddy: In Lebanon, yeah.

Nehemia: Really? In your camp?

Freddy: Not my camp, near camp.

Nehemia: Near your camp, okay. And so was Hezbollah fighting Daesh? Who was fighting, I don’t understand?

Freddy: Hezbollah fighting Daesh.

Nehemia: Okay.

Freddy: But when Daesh coming, all the people… cut them…

Nehemia: So you made… It’s recording, they can’t hear - they can’t see, they can only hear. So you made a sign with your finger across your neck. What does Daesh do, what are you trying to say? They’re going to kill you?

Freddy: Not kill me.

Maryam: We are far from them.

Nehemia: You’re what?

Maryam: We are far from them.

Nehemia: Fire, what is that?

Maryam: Far.

Freddy: Far.

Nehemia: Far from them. Now, you mean? Or in Lebanon?

Maryam: In Lebanon.

Nehemia: In Lebanon, you were far from them. Oh, okay. So why did you leave Lebanon? That’s your home, isn’t it?

Maryam: There are many problems.

Nehemia: What are the problems?

Maryam: We can’t…

Freddy: No work.

Nehemia: No work? Okay.

Freddy: No life good.

Nehemia: No life good.

Freddy: Everything in Lebanon not good. But too much people aren’t really…

Nehemia: What’s the word? Oh, she’s looking it up on her phone. Is that an Android? Was that the Galaxy S5?

Maryam: I want to translate.

Nehemia: Oh, please translate. Okay. So you’re both Palestinian?

Freddy: Yeah.

Nehemia: Okay. And what is your passport, does it say “Lebanese”?

Maryam: We have a passport in Lebanon, but…

Nehemia: Was it a Lebanese passport?

Freddy: Not Lebanese.

Maryam: Not like Lebanese people. Refuge people.

Nehemia: Refugee people, okay. When did your family come from Palestine?

Maryam: All Palestinian people from 194…

Nehemia: I’m sorry, so where did your family come from in Palestine?

Freddy: 1948.

Nehemia: 1948, but where in Palestine?

Maryam: I’m from Dallata, Safed.

Freddy: Dallata country.

Nehemia: Dallata? Oh.

Freddy: Safed, and Zib country.

Nehemia: Zib? Where’s that? Where’s that, today?

Freddy: Palestine.

Nehemia: Is that in the north?

Freddy: Yeah, it’s north.

Nehemia: What’s it near?

Freddy: Near Aqsa.

Nehemia: Near Jerusalem?

Freddy: Yeah.

Nehemia: Okay. And where’s your family from? Did you say Safed?

Maryam: Dallata. Safed. And my mother, Haifa.

Nehemia: Your mother is from Haifa? Why did they leave Palestine?

Freddy: The Israelis coming to Palestine, and my family’s coming 1948 coming to Lebanon and living in Lebanon and staying in Lebanon.

Nehemia: Okay.

Maryam: They took my country, our country from us and lived there. We can’t work, never, in Palestine.

Nehemia: Okay. Do you dream now of returning to Lebanon, or returning to Dallata?

Maryam: To Dallata.

Nehemia: Have you ever been to… Uh oh. Hold on, a second.

Maryam: We can’t to Palestine.

Nehemia: You can’t go to Palestine?

Maryam: No.

Nehemia: Okay, so you came here to Norway.

Maryam: Yes, to see if…

Nehemia: Do you want to live there?

Freddy: Yeah, and I’m coming and I want to live there, because I want life, this.

Nehemia: You want what?

Freddy: This life.

Maryam: Palestine.

Nehemia: Do you want to live in Palestine, or do you want to live here?

Maryam: Palestine.

Freddy: Yeah, sure. But too much problems.

Maryam: We cannot go. We can’t go.

Freddy: Too much…

Nehemia: So you came here to Norway, and what do you want to do here in Norway?

Maryam: To have a safe life.

Nehemia: Have a safe life? Okay. And will you have children here?

Maryam: I’m pregnant.

Nehemia: Oh, congratulations!

Freddy: Thank you.

Nehemia: So your baby will be a Norwegian-born baby.

Freddy: Yeah.

Nehemia: Are you excited about that? Yeah? Are you excited?

Freddy: Yeah.

Nehemia: Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl?

Maryam: It’s a girl.

Nehemia: It’s a girl! You know it’s a girl! Oh, congrats. So your girl will be born here in Norway, and she will be… Will she be Lebanese? Will she be Palestinian? Will she be Norwegian? What will she be, your girl?

Maryam: She will be Norwegian.

Freddy: A Norwegian girl.

Nehemia: Wow. I’m excited for you! That is great.

Freddy: Thank you.

Nehemia: Well, I’m so happy that you came to a safe place. And I wish you both a good life here in Norway. This is a wonderful… too cold, but other than that, it’s a really good place to be, and much safer than Lebanon. Yeah, all right. Thank you for talking to me.

Freddy: Thank you, very much.

Nehemia: Shukran. May I? Am I allowed to? Okay, shukran.

Freddy: Thank you, very much.

Maryam: Bye.

Nehemia: Bye-bye.

Freddy: Bye.

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  • Khaled says:

    Hi

    My name is Khaled salim I am 28 years old I am from Palestinian refugee from Lebanon I have read what you wrote about The Palestinian Bicycle Refugees of Norway and how miserable our life really is well I came to Norway through the Russian border and I went through the normal process but after a while a police officer came and took me to talk with me about the reasons that brought me to Norway and I kept on answering the same answer seeking a better life and the officer kept on asking me that and he tells me that these reason we can never ever I accept you here in Norway so I asked him what kind of an answer should give do want e to lie to I am not going to lie for whatever purpose I have been treated worthless in my entire life without any kind of respect everywhere I go just because I am Palestinian so at last he told we are going to send you back to Lebanon because your reasons are not good enough I had no other choice but accept between me and myself I said I was laughing cause no matter what I do I will always be a worthless so he sent me to place where all unaccepted cases will be sent back to their country as if Lebanon is my country after two days two officers came they wanted to talk to me and they told me well Lebanon has not accepted your return except If you went back by yourself not by force so I told them okay so what now they told me we will try to finish your case as soon as possible after two hours another police car came and took me to refugees camp I did the interview over there I stayed there for about 15 days and then they transferred me to tromso where I live now in some off tromso mottak center but what I am really angry about is that is that I talked someone who works in the UN and he told me you will never be accepted no matter where you go cause your country is a safe place to live in even though he mention to me all kind of miseries about the Palestinian who live I Lebanon which mister were talking about he told with all these reason still you cannot go and apply as a refugee you were supposed to go with Shingin visa I told yeah will I tried twice with immediate reject after 10 days after each apply and I guess it is the same for all the people who are from Palestine born in Lebanon anyway he told me no matter how long you stay you will be rejected or may not but still you will be accepted I said to myself do I have to be a criminal to apply for asylum or do I need to wanted by the Lebanese government to apply or What unfortunately I know that what he told me is true many people would love help us but only few really try their best to anyway there a lot in my heart I don’t want to bother you I just liked what you wrote about us hoping that if you real could help me I will really be more than thank full any way if you want more information about me like a Norway police card for asylum or passport copy(travel document) I am ready.

    • Rosemary Onyango says:

      So sorry to read this. The pain of your mistreatment is obvious in your writing. I can only pray that God will hear the cry of your heart and that you will find recourse soon.

  • I found it interesting that these people from Lebanon accepted Nehemia’s use of “Daesh” (sounded like Daa Ish) (7 minutes to 7:30) in this interview recorded last November when talking about the reasons why they had fled the camp.

    The big debate about Hussein Obama using “ISIL” exploded in the world media at about the same time, a couple of years after I had heard this explained.

  • Dateshake says:

    I dont think this is funny. No reason to get excited about. These people are not refugees. They are invadors!! I feel sorry for Norwegian christians and other christians in rest of Europe, suffering from the muslim invasion. But for those Europeans who have allways hated Israel, they will harvest what they have sowed.

  • Aron Brackeen says:

    Ha, ha, (and still laughing…)

    NG – “OK. So, call the police while I talk. Okay?”
    Hilarious…but very serious!

    What hutzpah you have, Nehemia, thou blessed of YeHoVaH (Gen 24:31);
    the blessing of YeHoVaH be upon you: I bless you in the name of YeHoVaH (Psalm 129:8).
    YeHoVaH be with you. YeHoVaH bless thee (Ruth 2:4).
    YeHoVaH fulfil all thy petitions (Ps 20:5).
    Let the beauty of YeHoVaH our God be upon you (Psalm 90:17).

    YeHoVaH, [please] establish Thou the work of Nehemia’s hands upon him;
    yea, YeHoVaH [please], the work of Nehemia’s hands establish Thou it (Psalm 90:17).

    Interesting history about the Palestinian refugees. TY!