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January 25, 2007

"Let Our Children Live"

Nurit Peled-Elhanan is the daughter of Mattityahu Peled, a famous Israeli general. In 1997 her daughter Smadar was murdered in a Jerusalem suicide bombing. Peled-Elhanan later gave one of the most important speeches ever delivered about politics:

When my little girl was killed, a reporter asked me how I was willing to accept condolences from the "other side." I replied without hesitation that I refused it: When representatives of Netanyahu's government came to offer their condolences I took my leave and would not sit with them. For me, the other side, the enemy, is not the Palestinian people. For me the struggle is not between Palestinians and Israelis, nor between Jews and Arabs. The fight is between those who seek peace and those who seek war. My people are those who seek peace. My sisters are the bereaved mothers, Israeli and Palestinian, who live in Israel and in Gaza and in the refugee camps. My brothers are the fathers who try to defend their children from the cruel occupation, and are, as I was, unsuccessful in doing so. Although we were born into a different history and speak different tongues there is more that unites us than that which divides us.

Last week the Israeli army murdered 10 year-old Abir Aramin, daughter of a leader of the Israeli/Palestinian organization Combatants for Peace. Nurit Peled-Elhanan is a friend of their family, and writes:

Abir Aramin has joined in the underground kingdom of dead children the thousands of other children killed in this country and the territories it occupies. She will be welcomed by my own little girl, Smadar...If her killer had survived, I know he would have been sent to prison for his crime and his house would have been demolished on the rest of his family.

In the meantime, I sit with her mother Salwa and try to say, "We are all victims of occupation." As I say it, I know that her hell is more terrible than mine. My daughter's murderer had the decency to kill himself when he murdered Smadar. The soldier who killed Abir is probably drinking beer, playing backgammon with his mates and going to discotheques at night. Abir is in a grave...Her small bones could not bear the burden of life, death, vengeance and oppression that every Arab child here grows up with.

The rest of the piece, called "Let Our Children Live," is here.

Posted at January 25, 2007 02:35 PM | TrackBack

"My people are those who seek peace. "
There's no "my people" or yours. We are one people.
I can only imagine the pain and rage in your heart for losing the blood of your own blood, but how else can we stop this vicious violence cycle if not by forgiving and showing that we are the strongest by not acting like our enemies?

Posted by: warsucks at January 25, 2007 03:24 PM

It is shocking to imagine how much worse the situation would be without such strong people. If there is ever any resolution it will only be through the efforts of heroes such as Nurit.

Posted by: Paul Curtin at January 26, 2007 10:07 AM

If there is ever any resolution it will only be through the efforts of heroes such as Nurit.

That's exactly right: she's a genuine hero. I generally don't like to use such terms because because it devalues them, but she warrants it.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at January 26, 2007 10:31 AM

As has been said, Hatred can never be ended by hatred, but by love.

The greatest miracle is that there is something rather than nothing.

But perhaps among the top 10 miracles is that underneath it all, we are here together - and that people sometimes do actualize John Lennon's words -

"better recognize your brother [and sister] -
it's everyone you meet."

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at January 26, 2007 05:22 PM