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Tears and dabke as Palestinian grandmother completes PhD Open in fullscreen

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Tears and dabke as Palestinian grandmother completes PhD

Abu Esbaa and her son in traditional Palestinian clothing, celebrating her graduation [Twitter]

Date of publication: 13 November, 2017

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Abu Esbaa's thesis was entitled 'the role of Palestinian women in the struggle in the quarter century between the first intifada and 2012'.
When a Palestinian graduates, the whole town usually knows. Friends, family and supporters come in their kuffeyas, uniting in celebratory "zaghrouta" ululations and finding room in a packed ceremony hall to dabke.

Parents and grandparents stand with pride as they watch their young family member receive their degree, often viewed as a form of defiance and resistance as they adhere to the Palestinian traditions of treasuring education in the face of Israeli restrictions on movement and access to education.

But last week, it was the turn of a 74-year-old grandmother to be praised by crowds, after she received her PhD, watched on by her children and grandchildren.

A video of Najma Khalil Abu Esbaa, grandmother to 14, went viral as she and her husband danced to the traditional Palestinian song "ya teir al tayer" during her doctorate graduation ceremony.

Abu Esbaa worked as a teacher for decades before she went on to produce a distinction-graded PhD on women in Palestinian resistance from The Hague University. Her thesis was entitled "the role of Palestinian women in the struggle within the quarter century of the first intifada until 2012".

Her husband, also a doctorate holder, expressed his pride in her wife, who was only able to work on her thesis after 11pm. Their children were unable to hold back tears of joy when watching Abu Esbaa graduate.

"She is a great mother and wife who gave her children the best means of education, and planted in them the highest meaning of life, which is the love of science, said her husband, Abdullah Mustafa.

"She did not allow any barriers to stop her. She is the best example of women struggling in the march of education."

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