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The Forgotten Anne Frank

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13th of June, 1947

 

Today is a very special day. A jewish family is moving into our neighbourhood for the first time, and it is also the day I started keeping this diary. I am the youngest boy in my neighbourhood and it gets very lonely when the older kids leave me behind, so I am hoping this new family has any children for me to play with.

 

I spent all seven years of my life with my father, listening to news about the war, and the horrible things that have been happening to our jewish brothers made me sick and it made me happy when they were finally free of german tyranny. 

 

I couldn’t understand why my father and the elders of our town were angry about these war victims taking refuge in our country. Hasn’t God instructed us to take care of our fellow man when he is in need of help? In any case, I am glad to welcome new people to our community and I hope they finally find their peace with us.

 

16th of June 1947

 

Our new neighbours moved just down the street in a small house that used to be empty. I finally convinced my father to go with me and greet the newcomers. I was very pleased when we reached their doorstep and I saw a boy around my age looking at us through the window. My dad knocked the door and the little kid bolted away, and after a minute or so, his dad opened the door with him holding tight to his father’s leg.

 

My dad greeted the senior with a hard look I still couldn’t understand, and after introductions, I found out the little kid’s name was Noah. I took him by the arm and we got to talking on the street as our fathers entered the house. He was timid at first, but slowly he grew more comfortable as he told me about how his family ended up here.

 

He had a card game he told me about, and he was happy to teach it to me. As he stood up and started running inside to bring it out, we heard shouts from inside the house and my father stomped his feet through the front door and spat on the house’s porch. Noah waved his hand at me as my father took me by the arm to our house.

 

24th of August 1947

 

I have been meeting Noah secretly for a couple of months now, as both our families clearly did not like each other. This has been a common problem in our town, Muslims and Jews fought often over matters I genuinely did not understand. 

 

In any case, I didn’t care. I spent my days hiding in the bushes with my best and only friend Noah. We sat for hours playing cards and telling stories, giggling softly so that the elders did not find out about our friendship. Our uncles regularly warned me about my friend’s family, using vulgar language to describe people that have done me no harm. I wish it was different, but I could not do anything about it.

 

Today was a bad day. I was with Noah in our usual place, hiding between the trees. He was trying to teach me Hebrew as a fight broke on the street near us. We started sneaking peeks through the leaves and to our mutual horror, Noah’s dad was beating my youngest uncle senseless on the pavement. 

 

I was very scared as I saw my uncle’s blood flowing down the street and I couldn’t move a muscle because of the shock, I never thought it would be this bad. I looked at Noah, and he was as scared as I was. We were both so afraid to be seen here, but I was more afraid for my uncle’s fate. I prayed silently for his well being. 

 

When people heard the fight, they started streaming down the street and that is when Noah’s father ran to his house and Noah followed him secretly through the trees. I was overwhelmed. Women started crying around my uncle’s body, and I started crying too. I hoped they were wrong, that he was alive, that there was no cause to cry. There was much I didn’t understand, but I knew that I was not going to see Noah for a very long time.

 

13th of June 1950

 

It has been three years since I found the will to write in this diary. The death of my uncle was the first and least of the violence that took over our village. A huge conflict has split up our entire country based on religion. Jews and Muslims are at each other’s throats for dominion over the land. They even want to change our country’s name to Israel. I could not fathom how they would think it to be rational, thousands of dead civilians just for basic etymology.

 

Israeli militants are raiding our town to protect murderers like Noah’s father, who faced no consequences for his crimes. The hate I felt for him was so intense that I rarely spend a night’s sleep without reliving that day in my nightmares. But I never blamed any of it on Noah. He was a child, same as me, and his father’s crimes were not his. I have never seen him since that day, I assumed he was afraid. I missed playing with him, but I knew there was no way I’d play with him again, not after what happened.

 

It is pointless to say that today was also a bad day, as we have seen few of the good ones since the last entry in this diary, but it was one of the worse ones. I was walking to our house when I saw from a distance an Israeli military vehicle just outside our door, and heard the screams of whom I presumed to be my mother. I ran as fast as I could to see what was happening.

 

Of all the horrors I witnessed for the last three years, nothing broke me like this one. Soldiers were attacking my father with the butts of their rifles as others were throwing our belongings out on the street. Hate rose through me and I did not know what I was doing until it was done. I rushed to defend my father and one of them hit me on the back of the head like I was not ten years of age. I sat whimpering on the floor next to my father, who for the first time since my birth, I saw helplessness in his eyes. 

 

Sadly the soldiers succeeded, everything we owned was on the streets and we were lying next to it not knowing what to do. Half an hour went by in a miserable confusion, until a truck came in with the belongings of another family. My eyes can barely focus through the pain, but I recognized them as they came out of the car and rage overtook me like a plague. Noah’s father started unloading their things from the back of the truck and Noah came to help him.

 

I considered him a friend, and he came to steal my home. My eyes watered as he looked right through me with near dead eyes, I was a ghost to him, a waste of space. I finally understood. They did not come as refugees, they came as conquerors and we were closer to animals than to humans in their eyes. I feel like this diary will not feel ink for a long time. I only pray that our struggle does not last.

 

25th of September 1961

 

I haven’t seen this little book for a while now. I guess it would not hurt to write another entry. Reading this I actually felt silly. Now I feel desensitised about what happened, it has been my daily life for the past eleven years.

 

 After getting kicked out of our old homes, our family split up and everyone went to live with a relative. No one would have supported all of us because of how small our houses were. And even those houses now feel like a blessing from god. Eventually all of our houses were raided by Israeli scum and we were homeless, until we were driven to Gaza where we spent more time beneath the ground because of the constant bombing.

 

I learned how to kill not soon after. At first it felt unworldly, I never thought before once in my life that I would have to take another man’s life, but now it just feels like duty. Along the way, I lost uncles, cousins and my father who died the day we fled to Gaza. I left a piece of my soul in my old town and Noah, the kid I thought was my friend, laughed at us through the window of my old house with his father.

 

We never counted how many we killed, we were too busy counting how many of us died. Death followed us through the tunnels under the city, we got sick and died for lack of medicine. And if we try to seek a habitable environment, we get gunned down like animals or flattened by bombs that never seem to end. We sometimes get the chance to take some of them out with the little resources we have. 

 

Our numbers dwindle more each passing day. It is hard to fathom the feeling of extinction until you actually start feeling it. I wake up every morning thinking I might be the last one standing. I wouldn’t know, but I imagine dying would feel easier than the constant worry about everyone around you. I wish I could call my brethren a family, but how could I? Families live in houses, go to work, study, go on vacation. We live to kill or be killed. We are an army that learned to fight out of desperation and hope for survival.

 

I wish that I have written more on this book. My life feels safer in between these pages, it does not seem as brutal without the horrific images and sounds that seem reluctant to leave my night’s sleep. I also wish i lived long enough to write at least one more entry, an entry where our people are free of the terror inflicted by people that should have known better.

 

17th of October 2023

 

If I was asked forty years ago if I’d survive to this day and write in this diary, I would laugh at how ridiculous that is. Yet here I am, twice the age of my dad when he was gunned down by militants, a man of eighty-three years. I can barely hear or walk, let alone fight. The only use the cause has for me right now is teaching the children and tending to the victims of war.

 

Our struggle went on for longer than anyone anticipated but the spirits of our soldiers do not seem to weaken. They fight as if they’re not outnumbered a thousand to one, and I wish they continue until they regain the lands lost to their fathers. I still keep a key to our old house back in my hometown. No matter how much I forget, I will never forget that house, with its small rooms and creaking windows. It is mine by right, and although it seems to be impossible, I’d like to walk its hallway again, to feel like a child one more time.

 

Today, I saw the true devil in the hearts of Israelis as I sat on a stool on the pavement looking up at the stars for a short moment of peace. Sadly the moment did not last for long. The bomb fell on the city’s hospital like a lightning bolt splitting the sky in half. At first, I thought it was a meteor, for I could not believe it for what it actually was. This is a line no one has crossed ever since mankind began to war. 

 

I saw the hospital’s walls collapsing and even with my old ears I can hear the patients inside screaming in unison, not understanding what has become of them. My eyes watered and tears started flowing down cheeks as I wished with all my heart that I was with them. Death is mercier than my fate, carrying these disgusting images with me to the grave. 

 

I begged God to smite their hospitals and schools, to plague them as they have plagued us for a land they had no right to own. How can a race that lived tragedy inflict it on those that have done them no harm? Death is a kind fate for the animals that are capable of this heinous act. But even then, I wish it upon them, not as punishment, but to rid the world of an evil so terrible it could consume the whole world. 

 

Today is the last day I put ink to these papers. Tragedies seem to overwhelm us more day by day. There are no more moments for peace, no more time for me to narrate our horrors. My people need me more than ever and I will only stop helping with my last breath. One day we will reclaim our country, and then the whole world will understand.

 

Written By : Hachem Saihi 

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L’INSAT en deuil, hommage à Samir Hamza

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 En cette période funèbre, nous nous sommes mobilisés pour rendre hommage à une personne exceptionnelle qui nous a quittés trop tôt. Mr. Samir Hamza a touché la vie de tant de personnes,  premièrement les étudiants qui se sont sentis valorisés, soutenus et inspirés par son engagement à contribuer au rayonnement de notre faculté. Partenariats internationaux, soutien aux clubs, journées de fin de promotions, c’est grâce à ses nombreuses initiatives que nous nous sommes vus unis et écoutés, et que nous souhaitons réciproquement lui rendre l’hommage qu’il mérite. 

 

L’INSAT s’est jusqu’ici distinguée non seulement par ses accomplissements académiques, par ses projets de recherche de pointe, mais surtout par des collaborations scientifiques et pédagogiques comme l’implémentation de programmes d’échanges et de doubles diplômes, et des congrès et événements scientifiques tel que le tout premier congrès sur les objets intelligents propulsés par l’IA, et c’est bien grâce à cet homme compétent et dévoué, qui a fait un travail acharné pour rendre tout cela possible, et qui a aussi longuement contribué à l’avancement de chaque étudiant dans son propre parcours de façon directe ou indirecte.

 

Monsieur Samir a fait tant d’efforts pour maximiser les ressources de l’institution. En dépit des moyens financiers limités, il chercha à établir des partenariats stratégiques et des conventions avec des organisations externes pour obtenir du soutien matériel et financier. Sa détermination était telle qu’il n’hésitait pas à investir ses propres fonds lorsque cela était nécessaire pour mener à bien des projets cruciaux pour l’institution.

Chaque amélioration, chaque projet, chaque initiative menée par Monsieur Samir et son équipe visait un seul objectif : faire de l’INSAT un modèle d’excellence, capable de rivaliser avec les meilleures universités au niveau mondial.

 

Pour clore ce sombre chapitre, nous avons pensé qu’un des plus beaux aurevoirs que nous puissions adresser à Mr Samir serait au travers de nos témoignages, une manière d’honorer sa mémoire et sa vie qui nous a entièrement été dédiée. 

 

“Je l’ai connu pour la première fois en préparant le plus grand événement de l’histoire de l’institut, le vingt-cinquième anniversaire de l’INSAT. Il aimait tellement l’INSAT qu’il a réellement planifié une semaine entière d’activités, une multitude d’événements combinant divertissement, reconnaissance et savoir. J’étais impressionnée par son amour et sa dévotion envers l’institut. Il s’est assuré que tout se déroulait comme prévu, garantissant le confort de l’équipe travaillant jour et nuit. Nous avons eu un aperçu de sa personnalité, mature et professionnelle tout en étant amusante. Il ne nous faisait pas sentir inférieures à cause de son autorité ou de la différence d’âge ; il nous traitait équitablement, écoutait attentivement ce que nous avions à dire, et il savait ce qu’il faisait. Il avait tout planifié, chaque étape, et trouvait une solution à chaque fois que nous rencontrions un obstacle.  Il était présent même lorsqu’il n’avait pas besoin de l’être, veillant à ce que nous ayons ce dont nous avions besoin à chaque conférence, congrès et événement, nous aidant lorsque les choses se compliquaient. Il aimait l’INSAT de tout son être, quittait son bureau tard la nuit pour s’assurer que tout était en ordre et privilégiait le bien-être de l’institution avant son propre confort, même lorsqu’il était malade. Après des mois de travail sur des événements, j’ai eu l’opportunité de travailler avec lui en tant que déléguée des étudiants. Au fil des années, j’ai vu des gens qui ne le connaissaient pas le juger sévèrement, et j’aimerais dire à ces personnes que même si chacun a des défauts, Pr. Samir Hamza est un grand homme, le plus grand manager, directeur et leader que l’INSAT ait jamais connu. Il a laissé un héritage à chérir et un front uni qui continuera ce qu’il a commencé.  En assistant à ses funérailles, nous avons vu l’impact qu’il avait sur son entourage et à quel point il était aimé, même par ceux qui ne s’entendaient pas avec lui, ce qui est la preuve de quel grand directeur il était.”, Nada Khiari, déléguée depuis 2020.

 

“ Il nous avait montré par ses gestes et son soutien incessants qu’il tenait aux clubs de notre faculté. Sa motivation pour confirmer la position de l’INSAT comme école d’ingénieur de renommée internationale était source d’inspiration pour tous. Il a été d’un support infaillible à IEEE INSAT : son local, beaucoup de ses équipements… Dès son élection comme Directeur, il s’est beaucoup investi dans les préparatifs du congrès national de robotique NRW, organisé en Septembre 2021. Il répondait également présent dans la majorité des projets de l’Aerobotix, l’ACM, Enactus et j’en passe… En juillet 2021, membre de INSAT Press, j’ai eu le privilège de collaborer de près avec Si Samir dans le cadre d’un documentaire qu’on proposait de réaliser sur l’INSAT. Il répondait par Oui à toutes nos demandes. Pour le vingt-cinquième anniversaire de l’INSAT, il a souhaité reconstituer les archives historiques de notre institut et les montrer au public collectif à cette occasion. Nous avons même réussi grâce à son appui à enregistrer des vidéos aériennes à l’aide de drones, qui resteront comme support promotionnel à l’INSAT. Personne jusqu’ici, n’a réussi à commémorer la mémoire de toutes les histoires passées de cet institut de manière à réunir les fondateurs – Mohamed Amara, Madame Jouda Ben Ayed, …- dans un seul et même lieu, comme dans les années 90. Rendre hommage à l’héritage de ses prédécesseurs, leurs valeurs, leur vision, ainsi que tout ce qu’ils ont contribué à créer et à bâtir au fil du temps, c’était ce qui l’a animé durant sa vie. Il a pris beaucoup de risques pour aboutir à des résultats aussi exceptionnels. On ne se demandait jamais si Si Samir était présent à l’INSAT, on le croisait très souvent avant d’atteindre son bureau, il nous rendait très souvent visite à notre local. Quand nous avons une compétition à préparer, Si Samir passait même à 2H du matin, pour encourager les équipes”, Mohamed Ali Zormati, ancien président IEEE.

 

“Auparavant, le Club INSAT Press n’avait aucun espace pour se réunir. J’ai décidé de discuter de ce sujet avec Mr. Samir, en tant que président du club. C’est alors qu’à ma grande surprise, et avec beaucoup de gentillesse, il nous a octroyé sur-le-champ un local au premier étage. Grâce à son aide, nous avons maintenant un coin personnel où nous retrouver”, Chedly Ben Azizi, alumni INSAT.

 

“Un jour, il nous a surpris en train de procéder au nettoyage du local du club. Après s’être changé, il est revenu nous prêter main forte, s’est mis à nettoyer avec nous les vitres et le sol. Cette initiative nous a surprise, transcendant les barrières hiérarchiques habituelles”, Linda Ghazouani, alumni INSAT.

 

« À un moment où je me sentais vraiment découragé par le fait de devoir repasser la session de contrôle de ma deuxième année de cycle préparatoire, il m’a offert la chance de consulter mes notes. Cette opportunité m’a vraiment redonné espoir et m’a encouragé à persévérer. »Tiba Ouerfelli, étudiante en BIO5.

 

 

Ecrit par : Selima Zghal et Sarra Lasram.

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