Following is one day's journal writing of an Israeli peace activist. It's
copied from a Gush Shalom email newsletter.
Praying for a breakthrough.
Road Rage Diary, By Judy Rebick, June 5.
This morning, as you probably know, there was another suicide bombing. It
was a car bomb that blew up next to a bus and at least 18 people were
killed. We were on our way to Gaza when it happened and we had turn back
because all checkpoints were closed.
Our driver, a Palestinian, expressed the horror of the ordinary people here.
"No-one knows what is going to happen next. I have lived here 44 years and
it has never been so bad. Before there was war but now everyone from the new
born baby to the 100 year old woman is affected."
Last night, I met the cousin of a suicide bomber. Our group was having a
beer debriefing and planning the next few days. Asseil, the Palestinian
student in our group suddenly asks, "Would you like to meet the parents of a
suicide bomber?" We turned to him a bit stunned. How would we do that?
He points to the man at the next table to whom he has been chatting in
Arabic. He is the cousin of suicide bomber. We invited the man who I will
call Ahmed to talk with us. He said he felt very bad about his cousin. He
explained that the whole extended family was suffering in the aftermath of
the bombing. That afterwards the family felt this young man was a bit
different than them, easily manipulated perhaps. Before the bombing,
however, they had no idea he would do something like that.
His cousin had lost his job a few weeks before but he said, "I lost my job
too because of the Israelis, many people have lost their jobs and they
haven't done anything like that." Ahmed worries that the world sees the
Palestinian people as violent and bloodthirsty. "We just want to be left
alone to live," he explained. "We don't like the violence or the blood. I
don't like seeing my brother killed. We want peace."
"There was peace for so many years, from 1994 to 2000. Who ended the peace?"
he asks. "It was not us who drove tanks into Tel Aviv."
We assumed that he was critical of his cousin's action. But as the
conversation proceeded, it became clear that we were projecting. Ahmed is
proud of his cousin. "He died for us," he went on. "He died for the
Palestinian people. He is a hero." Then in the next breath, "we wish he had
had a child so he would not have done this. I have a child and that's why I
would never do it." Proud of his cousin for what he did, Ahmid only feels
badly because his cousin is dead.
"But if you call him a hero," asked Monique, "won't other young people want
to do the same thing?' A shrug in reply "And doesn't it bother you that he
killed innocent people," I ask.
"They (the Israelis) kill innocent people. But that's bad isn't it?"
"Yes but everything here is bad."
Ahmed was in an Israeli prison for two years, for being a student activist,
he says. At first he doesn't want to talk about it and has tears in his eyes
even thinking about it. Later he says, "I would like you to spend just one
night in that prison and for one or two nights wear the shirt I had to wear,
summer and winter." Later he shows us a slightly mangled foot. "The Israeli
soldier stood on the top of the jeep and jumped down on my foot," he
describes how it happened.
"We need an alternative," he says. "But until then we have to fight back."
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