#MyPalestinianSitty: Why people are sharing odes to their Middle Eastern grandmothers on social media

Twitter users are remembering their Palestinian grandmothers after congresswomen Rashida Tlaib rejects Israel’s offer of entry to the occupied West Bank

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When Palestinian-American congresswoman Rashida Tlaib was last week initially denied entry to Israel ahead of a planned trip to the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, the decision birthed hundreds of headlines.

And, the topic also appears to have spawned a new hashtag, which is finding ever-growing traction on social media.

#MyPalestinianSitty is a reactionary movement devised in support of Tlaib, who had hoped to visit her grandmother in the occupied West Bank during her trip to the region, along with fellow Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

The hashtag refers to Palestinian grandmothers, with ‘sitty’ meaning grandma in the Levant and in western cities in Saudi Arabia.

Tlaib and Omar were initially denied entry due to their criticism of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, with authorities citing their support for the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement as motivation for barring the politicians. US President Donald Trump also voiced his support for Israel refusing entry to the Muslim congresswomen.

Israel passed a law in 2017 that allows it to deny entry to those who support boycotts of the country.

Following widespread backlash, Israel subsequently extended a hand to Tlaib, saying it would let her visit her family on humanitarian grounds. The politician, 43, rejected the offer due to the conditions that would be imposed on her.

“The Israeli government used my love and desire to see my grandmother to silence me and made my ability to do so contingent upon my signing a letter — reflecting just how undemocratic and afraid they are of the truth my trip would reveal about what is happening in the State of Israel and to Palestinians living under occupation with United States support,” Tlaib said in a statement.

In the wake of the situation, #MyPalestinianSitty found ground on Twitter, with Omar herself praising the initiative.

“#MyPalestinianSitty is trending and I am overcome with emotions realising how we are finally humanising one of the world’s most dehumanised peoples,” said the congresswoman.

Users from across the world have used the hashtag to share emotionally charged and often harrowing stories of their own grandmothers in Palestine, laced with tales of bloodshed and war.

Omar and Tlaib have liked, and reshared, several of the hundreds of responses to the hashtag.

Twitter users shared stories of relatives who had survived in occupied territory, as well as those who had been forced to flee Palestine or died as a result of conflict.

Tlaib shared an image of her late grandmother, who she described as a “fierce woman”.

The congresswoman’s surviving grandmother, Muftia, still lives in the village of Beit Ur Al Fauqa in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

"Trump tells me I should be happy Rashida is not coming," the 90-year-old told reporters this week. "May God ruin him."