Sunday, April 26, 2015

On the Other Hand ...

As suggested in my lament (Relentless), it feels like injustice is winning over here. Not just "feels like", it is winning. On the other hand, in the long run (I hope not too long) injustice doesn't stand a chance. For many reasons. The myriad of people here and around the world relentlessly acting for justice is one. What I consider the self-defeating nature of Israeli policy is another. Most of all, though, it is because of the remarkable steadfastness of the Palestinian people that this injustice will end.

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


At Oslo Al-Fara was designated within Area A which meant it was under Palestinian control. Yasser Arafat turned this prison and the area around it into a sports center for children and young people throughout Palestine. And so it is today. Raed is employed to manage the facilities. Nidal never went to college, but the day following our visit his oldest son, Furat, was graduating from college as a nurse. His other children, five I think, came to introduce themselves most politely as they served us Arabic coffee at his home. Nidal is a guide for international groups on walking tours of Palestine.

It's because of these – and so many others on "the other hand" that justice and peace will finally prevail.

Furat – BA, Nursing

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