Palestinian Americans have reacted to the uprising in the West Bank and Gaza with intense pride. ``There is no longer a feeling of fear among the young people,'' says a Houston insurance agent, who asked that his name not be use out of a concern for family members living in the West Bank. ``The kids are driving the Israelis crazy,'' a friend of his says with ill-concealed glee.
``For a while people were wondering if the Palestinians had the dignity and had the honor to resist occupation,'' says Adam Nassar, an Israeli Palestinian who now works as a management consultant in Washington. ``The uprising shows that they will not tolerate oppression.''
The leading role of youth in the uprising evokes particular pride. There is a story going the rounds about a youngster, six years old, picked up for throwing stones. ``My brother Muhammad told me to do it,'' he tells the Israelis. So he is ordered to take the soldiers to his brother. When they enter the house, the Israelis discover that Mohammad is three.
A 15-year-old San Francisco girl says she regards the West Bank young people as heroes and would be participating in demonstrations if she were there. When her father is asked what he thinks of that, he responds, ``Excellent.''
Other parents note that the uprising has aroused a new interest in things Palestinian among their children. Karimi and George, who operate a falafel stand in Houston and would not give their last names, say that for their four children, all born in the United States, television exposure of fellow Palestinians on the West Bank has ``moved their blood.''
What will the uprising accomplish? It shows, says businessman Fuad Ateyeh, that ``you can kill us, you can do anything you want to us. One thing you cannot change, you cannot change our feeling for a homeland.''
Nationalism is the name of this game. ``For the first time,'' observes graduate student Jameel Shihadeh, ``every Palestinian - children, women, old people - is involved in the uprising. We are in the United States, but we still consider ourselves as part of this uprising.''