I ask many Palestinian friends, merchants – anyone willing to talk: "where do you find hope". The answer from most goes something like this: Yes, it is terrible, and so long as the U.S. is in Israel's corner, we do not see it ending. But we are not leaving. It is as simple as that – we are not leaving. So we live our lives as best we can. We work; we feed our families; we educate our children. We are a generous, hospitable people who care for our elderly parents as they cared for us. This is how many of us resist this ghastly Occupation.
With John and Joyce Cassel and Ayed, our generous guide from DCI (Defense of Children International), we visited the old Israeli prison at Al-Fara (above Nablus, maybe 10 km. from Zababeh). The structure was built by the Brits during the Mandate as a stable for their horses, was transferred at some point to the Jordanians, and fell into the hands of the Israeli military after '67. From 1982 through Oslo Al-Fara became a secret Israeli military prison where thousands of Palestinians, were tortured. We were led through the prison by two men, Nidal and Raed, both of whom had been prisoners there, Raed five different times for a total of 2 1/2 years. Treatment of Palestinians, young and old, at Al-Fara was unspeakable. At every step the process was intended to break their spirit, to crush any and all resistance until they "cooperated". With 6 - 8 persons in a space built as a stall for a horse, what kept them sane at times was the call to prayer issued from the near-by refugee camp 5 times a day.
There is much more to say about Al-Fara, but what is most relevant here are the faces of these two men. Their humanity was not crushed by their experience. It shows in their faces. They do not hate Jews. They can and will live with them as neighbors when their human rights, civil rights are restored. When what has been taken from them is returned.
|Nidal & Raed|