The hashtag #MyPalestinianSitty has been trending on the micro-blogging site Twitter. It shows the sweet power of micro-storytelling, after a bitter feud between Israel and US Representative Rashida Tlaib spurred odes to grandmothers. Image Credit: Twitter

Dubai: Palestinian diaspora around the world have flooded social media with fond recollections of their grandmothers — rallying in solidarity with US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s own Palestinian “sitty”.

Online supporters used the hashtag #MyPalestinianSitty when posting pictures of their grandmothers and descriptions of their struggles under Israeli occupation.

“Sitty,” spelled different ways in English, is an Arabic term of endearment for one’s grandmother.

The result: #MyPalestinianSitty has been trending on Twitter in the last two days, with evocative pictures and sweet micro-stories shared by Palestiantinian tweeps about their own grandmothers.

The trigger for the spontaneous and sweet tributes, however, was bitter one — the dispute over US Rep. Tlaib's canceled plans to visit her aging Palestinian grandmother.

What triggered the dispute
On Thursday, August 15, US President Donald Trump tweeted: "It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Ilhan Omar (a Democrat from the state of Minnesota) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (a Democrat from state of Michigan) to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds."

Israel's deputy foreign minister then announced Israel was banning the two congresswomen from coming into the country. The following day, Israel said it would allow only Tlaib (but not Omar), to visit her elderly grandmother in the West Bank after Tlaib requested entrance, promising to "respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel" during her trip.

In a statement on Friday morning, Tlaib said that she "decided to not travel to Palestine and Israel at this time. Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother's heart."

“Illiterate, but memorized the Quran front-to-back. Married at 13, but made me promise to finish school before settling down. My heroine… #MyPalestinianSitty,” wrote Twitter user Ahlam Chehabim, with a picture of her grandmother.

Hundreds of other Palestinians posted similar moving messages, remembering the strength and resilience of their matriarchs in resisting the Israeli occupation or simply helping raise a stronger generation.

Tlaib was abruptly banned earlier this week from entering Israeli territories to lead a scheduled congressional delegation through the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli regime later granted permission for Tlaib to visit her 90-year-old grandmother in the occupied West Bank on humanitarian grounds, but Tlaib declined — tweeting that she could not allow Israel to “use my love for my sity to bow down to their oppressive & racist policies”.

“She made me bamia for breakfast because she knew it was my fave she hugged so hard it hurt,” Palestinian writer Hannah Khalil tweeted. “#MyPalestinianSitty use to walk along the Apartheid wall, up and down mountains, carrying a plastic tank of olive oil and fatayir to come see her grandchildren,” said Hadeel Asi.

American author and Gulf News columnist James Zogby summed it with this tweet: “The once invisible Palestinians now have a human face. What many of us have worked a generation to accomplish has happened overnight because one brave Palestinian woman stood tall & demanded justice.”

Many of the grandmothers have lived through what the Palestinians refer to as the "Nakba" or Catastrophe – when hundreds of thousands fled or were forced from their homes by Israeli occupation forces during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

“#MyPalestinianSitty is trending and I am overcome with emotions realizing how we are finally humanizing one of the world’s most dehumanized peoples,” Tlaib’s fellow Congresswoman Ilhan Omar tweeted.

Twitter user Jehad Abusalim posted a picture of his grandmother and wrote: “Meet #MyPalestinianSitty Fatma. She witnessed the 48 war, 56 occupation of Gaza,67 reoccupation of Gaza,78 invasion of Lebanon, 82 invasion of Lebanon, 1st & 2nd Intifadas, 3 major Israeli attacks on Gaza, & 13 years of blockade w/6 hours of electricity a day. She still smiles.”

“My parents left occupied Palestine before I was born so that they could raise me and my siblings free. Both of my tatas (grandmas) died under Israeli occupation before I could know them," Palestinian-American activist Huwaida Arraf tweeted.

Others shared stories of their grandmothers who had fled Palestine during the Nakba. “#MyPalestinianSitty fled to Jordan in 1967, on foot, with 8 of her children. Although she died never able to return to Palestine, she carried her people and her culture everywhere she went,” Palestinian-American MMA fighter Ramy Daoud tweeted.