Mohammad Ibrahim al-Hassan (Kwaykat)

Q:  What is your name?

A: Mohammad Ibrahim al-Hassan, Abu Muneer, from Kwaykat. People there used to live in luxury, they were good hearted, and loved each other. There was friendliness, love, and solidarity. There was no cheating, people lived according to their destiny, neither very rich nor poor — medium. Everyone had his own land and lived from it.  Small farms, it was agricultural land, people were well off. I mean it was luxury.

Q: What did you plant?

A: Wheat, corn, barley, squash, cucumber, potatoes… And they used to raise chickens and bees for honey. Everything was available. And the one who didn’t have [land], his neighbour would give him and help him. The one who was sick they gave him and helped him. They helped the one who wanted to get married. The one who had wheat and wanted to grind it, they used to help him. If someone wanted to cement his roof, the whole village would pour cement with him. It was like socialism.

Q:  With regard to the crop, did you go down to the city?

A: No, not the entire crop. What was left over, he would take of figs, eggs and sesame, and take them down to the city.

Q: Were there nonArab companies that took the crops?

A: No, only city people, the families of ‘Akka.

Q: Did you ever go to the city? How did the people live there?

A: Ah, all the people lived together with each other. There wasn’t discrimination. Love, solidarity, good living, friendliness. People didn’t have tensions or quarrels.  All of us were equal, like a family, likebrothers.

Q: What did you bring back from the city?

A: Clothes, sweets, medicine, and meat. There was meat in the village, but when someone wanted to get married, he’d go to ‘Akka taking with him four women and their husbands, and they would have lunch at a restaurant. Luxury!

Q: Did you pay taxes?

A: No, there weren’t any.

Q: Not even with British colonization?

A: In the cities there weren’t any factories that could be taxed

Q: Were there banks?

A: Yes, but we didn’t deal with them.

Q: Did you sell your goods for money or by exchange?

A: No, for money.

Q: Did everyone work his own land, or for other people?

A: On their own lands. And also they worked outside in areas where there were orchards, and for the Jews.

Q: Did the British harass you?

A: No, but after the revolution in 1936 they used to punish anyone who had weapons, and anyone who made meetings. Before that people were fine, happy.

Q: Did you have any contact with Lebanon?

A: No, the village people didn’t have any contact with the Lebanese. The city people had contact with them but very little.

Q: What did you get from outside Palestine? For sure there were things that didn’t exist in Palestine?

A: No, we used to live according to our means — the wheat, the olive oil, the honey, and the figs trees were enough for us. We didn’t lack anything.

Q What was Kwaykat famous for?

A: For agriculture.

Q: Wasn’t there a specific crop?

A: No, the usual.

Q: Did you have contacts with nearby villages?

A: Yes, whenever there was a wedding, or whenever there was a death. There was a valley called Wadi Majnouna. In winter the grass grew tall there, and the sheep used to go outside the village. People all collected the sheep, each one would take hold of a sheep, help them follow the flock, and put them in the right direction.

Q: What work did you do when you came to Lebanon?

A: The same work we used to do in Palestine. In Lebanon they don’t give us our civic rights, even educated people can’t find work in schools, or open an institution, or a clinic or a business. It’s difficult in Lebanon. We don’t have the right to own property.

Q: Did you come directly to Bourj al-Barajneh?

A: No, we came to Abbasiyya, then here.

Q: Why didn’t you stay there?

A: That village was poor, Beirut was better. Besides everyone started to follow their relatives. If a brother left, his brother followed. People came one after the other.

Q Do you have relatives who stayed there [in Palestine]?

A: Yes, of course.

Q: Do you still have contact with them?

A: Yes, by telephone.

Q: How is their life?

A: They are fine. They are living well in al-Khalil [Hebron], not like Gaza or the West Bank. They can buy land and sell it, and go on the hajj.

Q: Did the women work with you?

A: Yes, of course, they had an important role.

Q: Was there difference between summer and winter crops?

A: Yes of course there was a difference.  In winter people stored some crops, and work was slight because it was winter. In the month of May and June we used to trim the corn and barley, and the okra and beans.

Q: Would you like to say anything else?

A: I wish you health, and I wish for return, oh Lord!

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