Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Jerusalem Journal: Victims and Terrorists

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Jerusalem Journal: Victims and Terrorists

Article excerpt

JERUSALEM JOURNAL: Victims and Terrorists

Samah Jabr is a medical student who writes from her home in Jerusalem. Betsy Mayfield is an American writer living in Iowa.

When I wrote recently that Israel uses security as an excuse for excessive violence, and that much of its treatment of Palestinians is no less than part of the long-term strategy clearly presented in the writings of Vladimir Jabotinsky (see July Washington Report, p. 15), I received an onslaught of hate mail far surpassing anything my articles had elicited before. One woman wrote that she hoped I'd die of breast cancer; another suggested that Ariel Sharon should single me out to be walled in and silenced with a mouthful of dirt--not mentioning that such dirt would be taken from my own soil.

I wondered what was so different about that article, which involved an historical explanation of the violence to which we Palestinians are subjected today. Perhaps I had touched a raw nerve of truth.

The taking of the Holy Land is not the spiritual act it purports to be. Rather, it is a violation by human beings of other peoples' human rights. It is possible because many in our world today are capable of choosing their own ambitions over those of God. One can see the result of this here in Palestine, in Northern Ireland--all over the globe.

It was not only strangers or enemies, however, who responded to my article with hostility. Even Israeli peace activists, "friends" who have supported me in the past, wrote in anger, citing Said Al-Houtary's bombing of himself and pleasure seekers in Tel-Aviv as evidence of Palestinian evil.

One "friend," an Israeli journalist, wrote, "You should remember that a society that encourages death among its sons, no matter what the cause, has no future and will never have a respectable place among civilized people."

What am I to think? Evidently, for my friend, it's civilized for young Israeli soldiers to place themselves in harm's way and violate Palestinians' rights on behalf of their government's quest for land and power. It's another thing, however, for Palestinian young people to die for our right to live on our own land. I wonder if my "friend" interprets as another "civilized" act Israelis' willingness to elect a war criminal as their prime minister.

In the past, I have done what another "friendly" Israeli doctor suggested I do, and criticized my own people. I have written about the psychological pain of living in a society where martyrdom is an expression of an unbalanced war in which one side has weapons of mass destruction and the other only stones and antiquated equipment. I've written about the unrelenting sadness of parents who see their children die for a cause when the youths are scarcely old enough to know what martyrdom means.

Sadly, for me, my "friend" appears to have dismissed my efforts at objectivity. "Prove your integrity," she wrote to me, "and that you're a woman of principle. Write in sympathy of innocent Israelis killed by Palestinian acts of terror."

Perhaps I should have been flattered by her challenge, and her comment that she would "take her hat off to me" if I would condemn Said Al-Houtary and the parents of sons who have died for the Palestinian cause. Instead, I cried.

When my "friend" asks me to write a story of sympathy for the 20 people killed by Said Al-Houtary's act, does she expect me to feel more pain for them than I do for the 600 Palestinians who have died at the hands of the IDF or rampaging Israeli settlers? …

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