Levantine Arabic Diaries

Anne Frank and the Syrian Crisis

Learn Arabic as it is really spoken. Listen to and read Levantine Colloquial Arabic.

Ammar recently visited the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. How does he relate Anne Frank’s story to the situation in Syria?

انا بشتغل مع منظمة أسمها “سفراء اللاجئين”. و هي بالعادة بتبعت لاجئين ع المدارس الهولندية ليحكو قصتون. كمان المنظمة بتعمل رحلات للاجئين لأماكن ثقافية مهمة بهولندا. ومن ضمن الرحلات كان في دعوة لبيت انا فرانك. هلق انا بصراحة قاري أنا فرانك و شايف فلم او تنين عن قصتها. بس بصراحة كان الموضوع كتير غير لما رحت لهونيك. البيت من حيث المبدأ كان كتير عادي. كان فاضي. و هي الجولة بأتجاه واحد. فأنت بتفوت من مكان، و بتتفرج ع البيت و بتطلع من مكان تاني. بس مو هاد يلي اثر فيني. نحنا كونا جايين عن طريق المنظمة فكان في حدا يستقبلنا من إدارة البيت. فهي عطتنا شرح عن البيت و قصة انا فرانك و يلي كان صاير بألمانيا و باليهود بشكل عام. و هاد الشرح كتير اثر فيني. لانو حسيتو كتير قريب مني. حسيت كانها عم تحكي قصة حياتي أوقصة حياة كتير من اللاجئين السوريين. وقت سألت: انو شو رأيكون؟ انفعلت عاطفيا و حتى نزلت دمعتي وانا عم احكي
. قلتلها: بصراحة ما بعرف لأيمتى البشرية بدها تتم بالغباء هاد. اليوم التاريخ عم يعيد نفسو بطريقة سخيفة. عنا دكتاتور عم يخلي الناس تعاني. ناس عم تهرب. و الناس التانية مو سألة عن شي غير “ما بدنا حدا يأخود وظايفنا”. او عم تعاني من رهاب الأجانب! بصراحة انا كشخص جاي من سوريا، بفهم انا فرانك اكتر من أي حدا تاني. لانو الخوف يلي عاشتو تحت القصف انا عشتو. وقت حضنها أبوها لانو خايفة من القصف، انا كنت احضن أولاد اختي بنفس الطريقة و قلن “لا تخافو خالو”. لما كانت الناس عنصرية ضد اليهود، اليوم في عالم عنصرية ضد اللاجئين. وبشوفو انو اللاجئين جايين بس من شان المصاري! يعني اليوم العالم بتجي بتوقف بصف طويل عريض منشان تشوف بيت انا فرانك. لو بتسألون: شو ممكن كنت تعمل لحتى أنا ما تعاني ؟ ممكن يقلك ممكن اعمل شغلات كتير. طيب، اليوم عنا أطفال بسوريا عم تعاني اكتر بكتير بس ما حدا عم يعمل شي؟! و البشرية عم تتفرج. 

بعد ما خلصنا الجولة كان في كتاب للزائرين. كتبت جملة وحدة بس: كم طفل متل أنا فرانك لازم يموت قبل ما تصحى البشرية… أو تنقرض؟

I work with an organization called “Refugees’ ambassadors”. Usually it sends refugees to Dutch schools to tell their stories. In addition, the organization arranges trips for refugees to important cultural places in the Netherlands. One of them was an invitation to Anne Frank House. Well, I have read about Anne Frank and watched a movie or two about her. However, to be honest, it was different when I went there. In principle, the house is very normal. It was empty. And the trip is one way, so you enter from one place, you see the house and you exit from another. But that wasn’t what had an emotional impact on me. Since we were sent by the organization, there was someone to meet us from the house’s administration. She gave us an explanation about the house, Anne Frank’s story, what was going on in Germany with the Jews in general. The information really touched me because I felt it was so close to me. I felt as if she was telling my life story or the story of many Syrian Refugees. When she asked, “Would like to say anything?” I got so emotional even I shed a tear while speaking. I said, “To be honest, I don’t know how long humanity will be that stupid. Today, history is repeating itself in a ridiculous way. We have a dictator who is imposing suffering on the people. People are fleeing. And others don’t care about anything but “we don’t want anyone to take our jobs.” And they’re suffering from xenophobia! Actually, as someone from Syria, I could understand Anne Frank more than anyone else. Because the fear she experienced under bombing, I experienced it [too]. When her father hugged her because she was afraid of the bombing, I hugged my nephews and nieces in the same way saying, “Don’t be afraid.” When people were racist against the Jews, some people nowadays are racist against refugees, and see them coming here just for money!
 I mean nowadays people come to stand in an endless line to see the Anne Frank house. And if were to ask them, “What would you have done to prevent Anne’s suffering?” maybe they would say, “I would have done a lot.” Yeah, but currently we have Syrian children who are suffering much more, but no one is doing anything…? Humanity is just watching. 
After we finished the tour there was a visitor’s comment book. I wrote there one sentence: How many children should die before humanity wakes up… or becomes extinct?

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  1. Thanks Matthew, another great post! I wonder how you put these texts together, as you always include some vocabulary used in the former lessons, but are at the same time told by someone native. But I guess thats your business secret 😉

    1. No secret! I wish I could take credit for being that methodical. My only instructions to the native-speaker contributors are “Write about whatever you want!”

      I think what you’re seeing with repeated vocabulary is a phenomenon that occurs the more exposure you have to a language. It’s funny really–once you notice a new word, you start to see it everywhere, but only if you are getting enough exposure to the language, of course. Read a lot, listen a lot, and you’ll start to notice common words and expressions that pop up over and over.

      Feel free to ask anything about the vocabulary or grammar in the blog posts, and I’ll do my best to answer them!

  2. Very moving reflection, thank you Ammar. I first visited the Anne Frank house when I was much younger, in 1970. It had a similar impact upon me as my grandparents were also refugees. Many years ago I could speak Moroccan Arabic very well and studied fusha. I’ve now decided to learn Levantine colloquial because I like it better than Moroccan or Egyptian. I’ve downloaded your audio file but will have to listen to it in VLC player so I can slow down the playback! Though I can read the Arabic and follow along. I listen to many discussions and debates about current events in MSA on youtube and slow down the playback to 75% speed. If you upload more audio with Arabic text, I will be sure to listen and study. Thanks!

  3. As someone who has been studying MSA for years and is quite unfamiliar to the levantine dialects surprisingly I found this very understandable however I had to change to the slow audio. The story was quite moving as well. Thanks a lot. 🙂

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