Naser Barakat

Naser Barakat Oral History Interview


Naser Barakat was born in East Jerusalem and grew up in the area of Palestine. He was a young boy during the Six-Day War but as a result from the war, he was able to experience the shift to a military government system when Israel took over Palestine. In 1988, he migrated to the United States in search for better opportunities and lifestyle. With many difficulties arising, especially with the arrival of being in America, there was the need for money to survive. Upon migrating to the United States, he had a strong mindset of continuing his education and learning the skills of being an electrical engineer. However, it was difficult for him to balance attending school while also working two jobs to pay for his tuition. Money was a tough issue since Naser was trying to live a better life for himself.

Key Words

Split Household Family: Refers to a situation where one of the family members (father or mother) migrate to another country and couldn’t bring his/her family member with them

Immigration: the action of coming to live permanently in a foreign country.

Militarization: the process by which a society organizes itself for military conflict and violence. It is related to militarism, which is an ideology that reflects the level of militarization of a state.

Colonialism: the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically.

Immigration Act of 1965: A law passed in 1965 which replaced the old U.S. immigration policy. It created a new immigration system that prioritized the relatives of U.S. citizens and immigrants with professional or specialized skills.

1947-1949 Palestine War: The war began as a civil war between the Jewish and Arab inhabitants of Mandatory Palestine. Nearby countries such as Jordan, Egypt, Syria, and Iraq intervened to fight against the newfound State of Israel. As a result of the war, Mandatory Palestine was split into the new State of Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, with no new states created for Palestinian Arabs. Around 700,000 Palestinian Arabs were forced out of Israel and became refugees.

Six-Day War: In a surprise offensive in June, 1967, Israel attacked and took control of the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and Golan Heights. Around 300,000 Palestinians were forced out of their homes again and began the largest wave of Palestinian immigrants to America.

Intifada: the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, beginning in 1987.  Comes from the Arabic word meaning “an uprising” or to “be shaken”.

Israeli Occupation:  refers to Israel’s occupation of territories beginning in 1967 with the Six-Day War.

Palestine Refugee: A person who originally resided in Palestine between June 1, 1946 to May 15, 1948 and lost both their home and means of livelihood due to the 1948 conflict.

Settlement: A place of act of establishing a new living environment/place.

Annotated Bibliography

MORRISON, J., ZABUSKY, C., & Handlin, O. (1980). Ibrahim Hassan: FROM PALESTINE, 1922. In American Mosaic: The Immigrant Experience in the Words of Those Who Lived It (pp. 82-84). Pittsburgh, Pa.: University of Pittsburgh Press. doi:10.2307/j.ctt6wrcs0.33

     This article is about Ibrahim’s family who migrated to the United States in 1920 after the World War I over. The first time his dad came to the United States in 1913, he couldn’t bring Ibrahim and his wife. Ibrahim’s father insisted him to work to earn money rather than to go to school to pursue a higher education. In 1933 Ibrahim got married to an Arabic lady. He mentioned, “The boy of Asiatic extract, he had to be obedient to his parents, you know” (83). This short story talked about split household family, and how the Middle Eastern children have to obey their parents.

Shohat, E. (2017). “Coming to America”: Reflections on Hair and Memory Loss. In On the Arab-Jew, Palestine, and Other Displacements: Selected Writings of Ella Shohat (pp. 339-355). London: Pluto Press. doi:10.2307/j.ctt1pv89db.31

     The chapter from the book is talking about “The entangled relationship between immigration, identity, and contemporary cultural critique of non-European women in the narrative of immigration to the U.S.” (339). The author also mentioned and gave some example about the Middle Eastern immigrant, also the experiences of immigrant women of color. Whereas, the author emphasized that women of color immigrants back in the 19th century are seen as “forever foreigner”.

Dulesh, S. (2015). Reflections on the state of Israel and the Israel-Palestine conflict. Humanist Perspectives, (192), 26.

     This academic article is titled, “Reflections of the state of Israel and the Israel-Palestine conflict,” written by Sophie Dulesh. This article highlights the enormous Arab refugee problem that has been formulated as a result of the Palestine-Israel conflict. The conflict has been identified as the sole contributor of countless amounts of Arab refugees that have been displaced from their land and homes permanently. The article states, “in the case of Israel, the displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees,” (Dulesh, p. 26, 2015). This is a very important aspect of the article, because it recognizes the true atrocities that have been created due to this conflict. The disproportionality of power in the conflict is one of the many driving factors of displacement for countless amounts of Palestinians. The article also states that, “it is nevertheless true that the state of Israel was created on land that already had inhabitants,” (Dulesh, p. 28, 2015). Large amounts of tension continue to grow in neighboring countries surrounding Israel, who publicly reject the occupation of Palestine. The article also mentions that, “Of the 50 million recognized refugees, Palestinians are the only ones that continue to demand the right of return, rather than re-settling in other Arab lands,” (Dulesh, p. 29, 2015).” This is a critical point that the article mentions, because it reinforces the concept that this conflict generally has no end in sight.

Breslau, D. (2010). One State, Two States: Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict. Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews, 39(1), 68-69.

     This academic article is titled, “One State, Two States: Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict,” written by Daniel Breslau. This academic article focuses on the everlasting debate regarding a one state or two state solution, to the Palestine-Israel conflict. Generations of Palestinian people only support a solution to the conflict that consist of one state recognized as ‘Palestine’. The article states that, “the resurgence of one-state proposals has been precipitated by Palestinian actions, Arafat’s rejection of the Clinton/Barak proposals in late 2000, and the rise of the Islamist Hamas movement,” (Breslau, p. 68, 2010). Israel supports a two state solution, but the Palestinians reject this offer based on issues relating to territorial borders that are vastly disproportionate, favoring Israel land. The article also mentions that, “the Palestinian reaction was driven by anxiety over the prospect of their own displacement, physical, cultural, and political, an anxiety that would prove to be justified,” (Breslau, p. 68, 2010). This is an important aspect of the article, because it helps explain the various forms of struggle, and trauma.

Henley, David D., et al. “Health and Health Care for the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.” Journal of Palestine Studies, vol. 15, no. 2, 1986, pp. 132–140. JSTOR,

     In “Israeli Terrorism in the West Bank and Gaza: The Pariah as Poacher,”  David D. Henley, Eva Bergholtz and Gunnar Olofsson highlight the lack of health care available to Palestinians in the West Bank and in Gaza under Israeli occupation.    They emphasize a high infant mortality rate and high levels of malnutrition among children. Though they do not have the data to determine the effects of Israel’s occupation on the health of Palestinians, they find little evidence of the improvement of their health during this time period.  Instead, they find that there has been a decrease in hospitals and health care services available to Palestinians. They also cite poor living conditions, demonstrated by lack of running water and toilets, as a driver for poor health among Palestinians living in these areas.

Ricks, Thomas M. “In Their Own Voices: Palestinian High School Girls and Their Memories of the Intifadas and Nonviolent Resistance to Israeli Occupation, 1987 to 2004.” NWSA Journal, vol. 18, no. 3, 2006, pp. 88–103. JSTOR,

     Thomas M. Ricks writes of the experiences of Palestinian girls in High School during the Intifadas in his article “In Their Own Voices: Palestinian High School Girls and Their Memories of the Intifadas and Nonviolent Resistance to Israeli Occupation, 1987 to 2004.”  the Intifadas are two movements of resistance against Israeli occupation, the first of which begins in 1987 and the second of which begins in 2000. Ricks focuses on how the Palestinian girls cope with the violence and brutality of the Israeli military during these two periods.  The girls interviewed speak of not being able to travel between cities, schools closing, and innocent elders and children being shot and killed. They speak of writing in their diaries on a daily basis, aware of the historical value these stories hold and express the desire to be able to tell others, their children and grandchildren in particular, of the difficulties they faced under occupation of the Israeli military.

Summerfield, Derek. “Human Rights In Israeli Occupied Territories.” BMJ: British Medical Journal, vol. 308, no. 6920, 1994, pp. 61–61. JSTOR,

     Derek Summerfield writes about the mental health of Palestinians in the West Bank and in Gaza.  He reports how their mental health has been negatively affected by the violence of Israeli occupation and being tortured while incarcerated.  He mentions the staggering amount of Palestinian men that have been incarcerated since 1987 and expresses the need for Palestinians to have infrastructure to help these people deal with and navigate their mental health issues.  He describes the mental state of incarcerated Palestinians as worrisome. He expresses that not only are formerly incarcerated people traumatized and suffering mentally, but the society they are to return to are also struggling with trauma accumulated over six years of violence.

Palestine refugees. (n.d.). UNRWA. Retrieved from

     The United Nations Relief and Works Agency provides assistance and protection to all individuals who are registered with the Agency as a result of the 1948 conflict, where people have lost both their homes and means of livelihood. In 1950, the Agency began operations and responded to the needs of around 750,000 Palestine refugees and as of today, there are about 5 million Palestine refugees who are qualified for UNRWA services. The UNRWA is funded through voluntary contributions from United Nation Member States as well as international staffing costs from the Regular Budget of the United Nations. The services that they provide are health care, education, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance, emergency assistance and armed conflict.

Harms, Gregory & Ferry, Todd. “The Palestine-Israel Conflict: A Basic Introduction.” 2012: 87-116. Print.

     At the end of WWII, Great Britain was running out of money and began to pull out of their colonial lands, such as Palestine. In the aftermath of the war, the British allowed 100,000 Jewish refugees into Palestine as they were displaced from the war. The UN decided to split Palestine into 2 states, one Jewish and one Arabic, leaving the Arabs outraged that 56% of Palestine would be given to a foreign population. This notion began the 1947-1949 Palestine War starting with civil war between Jews and Arabs within Palestine and led to international war with Israel against Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq. With an Israeli victory, around 700,000 Palestinian refugees were displaced from their homes. Conflict ensued along the years with guerilla attacks. During June 1967, the Six-Day War began with Israel easily defeating its neighboring countries. Israel took control of the Gaza Strip and West bank, displacing upwards of 1.1 million Palestinian refugees.

Richardson, Channing. “The United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees.” 1950: 44-54. Print.

     This article addresses the displacement of around 750,000 Palestinian refugees that followed the 1947-1949 Palestine War. The Arab countries around Palestine believed that it was the United Nations’ responsibility to help the refugees. The UN report for the refugees was split into three parts, first to provide absolutely basic needs, second to supply, transport, and distribute provisions, and third to continue this until 1949 if needed. The Disaster Relief Operation was established in order to support the refugees. The relief programs ran into problems like financial limitations which prevented long-range planning, hiring of personnel, and lowered the amount of services provided to the refugees. It was also difficult to classify what a refugee exactly is. It was almost impossible for the relief agencies to identify if a person was a valid refugee who deserved aid.

“UNRWA and Qatar Celebrate the Right to Education for Palestine Refugee Students – Jordan.” ReliefWeb,

     This article mentions the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees organized a Back to School ceremony to celebrate support from State of Qatar. This ceremony represent the importance of right to education for Palestine refugees in the presence of Qatar Fund for Development Managing Director H.E Mr. Khalfa Bin Jassim Al-Kuwari. The importance of this contribution is to support 5 million Palestine refugees. UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty.

Feldman, Ilana. “The Humanitarian Condition: Palestinian Refugees and the Politics of Living.” Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development, University of Pennsylvania Press, 26 May 2012,

     This article discusses the importance of the Palestinian refugee community constitutes one of the largest and longest-lasting refugee populations in the world. The causes of both its creation and its longevity are subjects of tremendous political contention. The focus on how humanitarianism constraints and disables has illuminated crucial dynamics of a field that is generally valorized as “doing good” but these constraints are not all that needs to be understood about humanitarian effect. The anthropological exploration of the depoliticizing effects of humanitarianism intersects with policy-oriented debates about whether humanitarian agencies should take political positions in their work, or whether they should remain neutral, impartial, and nonpolitical in their missions.

Bocco, and Riccardo. “UNRWA and the Palestinian Refugees: A History within History.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 26 Mar. 2010,

     It is difficult to conceive a sustainable, long-lasting solution to the Palestinian–Israeli conflict without examining the refugee issue and identifying a just solution to it for both sides. Over time, and beside its emotional dimensions, the refugee issue has been increasingly regarded as a “problem” for the Israeli and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)/Palestinian Authority (PA) leaderships, who have generally taken uncompromising positions. The international stakeholders have been unable to suggest compromises acceptable to the parties concerned. In a recent work, M. Chiller Glaus reviews in detail the juridical debates and the political proposals of the last twenty years and concludes that “there will be no Israeli-Palestinian Peace agreement if the question of refugees remains unresolved, and the question of Palestinian refugees will not be resolved without the concrete prospect for an overall Israeli-Palestinian agreement”.