A War Without Chocolate: One Woman's Journey Through Two Nations, Three Wars and Four Children

Betty Majaj

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The headlines tell us of inhumanity and horror in some desperate parts of our world. Behind these headlines are millions of people trying to just live their life and provide for their families. This is one woman's story of living her life through three wars while raising four children. It is a story where inspiring acts of humanity bloom from a desert of savage inhumanity. The wars and changing boundaries had profound effects on their lives, setting back careers and dividing families. Mrs' Majaj not only survived, but managed to carve out a noble and dignified life for herself and her family. While a river of desperate people sought refuge away from the only homes they had ever known, she stood firm. She supported her husband, Dr. Amin Majaj, with his career as a doctor, politician and medical researcher, raised her family, and was the Director of the Princess Basma Center for Disabled Children. This is a behind the scenes look at Jerusalem through the recent wars told by one who lived through them. It is a life well lived and a story worth telling.

Betty Dagher surprised her well-to-do Lebanese family in 1943, when she declared she wanted to study nursing, but it was as a nurse that she met Amin Majaj, a young Palestinian doctor from Jerusalem, who became her life's companion. Betty and Amin Majaj moved to Jerusalem and embarked on an odyssey that is as shocking as it is heart-rending.
A War Without Chocolate is a fascinating account of one woman's successful attempt to survive and take care of her family and those around her while living in the midst of the wars and violence of the most intractable political problem of our times.
The dangers and hardships she endured as the world around her crumbled with the formation of the state of Israel is made all the more shocking and poignant when contrasted with her privileged childhood in Lebanon and her life in Jerusalem as the wife of a brilliant young doctor.
Although the narrative focuses on what is happening around her, the author cannot hide her own virtues and amazing accomplishments. Betty Majaj met every challenge thrown at her through decades of war, political unrest, and political violence with remarkable courage and determination. As a wife, mother, and nurse, she is a role model that will inspire women for generations.  

Betty Dagher Majaj was born and raised in Lebanon, but moved to Palestine after she married Dr. Amin Majaj. She ran a field hospital during the 1948 war, served in various charitable organizations and served as the director of the Princess Basma Center for Disabled Children for thirty years. She was a first hand witness to the war of 1948 that created the modern state of Israel and the 1967 war that resulted with her neighborhood in Jerusalem being occupied by Israel. She also returned to Beirut several times during the long Lebanese civil war to check on her aged parents and their home. In addition to her many outside accomplishments, Mrs. Majaj raised four successful children while playing host to a constant parade of scientists, doctors, politicians, and other visitors through the old stone house that her Father-in-law built in East Jerusalem. She led the Princess Basma Center to unprecedented expansion through her boundless energy, fearless determination and enormous vision. Her deep compassion and empathy created a strong and trusting bond between her, her staff, her patients and international donors.


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