Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Rest in Peace

Rest in peace Mohammad. He was unable to be buried in the Moslem cemetery on the Mt. of Olives. This photo was taken in the restaurant he owned, which he was so proud of. He gave us free desserts and coffee the day a bunch of us went up to the Mt. of Olives as part of a peace walk...

I remember writing about the day I met Mohammad Abu-El-Hawa, the man murdered for selling his home to Jews on the Mt. of Olives. You can read about it here .

Since then I had been having these intense converations with friends who defend the right of Jews to buy these properties - who say to me "Don't you believe that the land was given by God to the Jews?"

Yes, I do believe that. But don't believe you have to move out the Other just because of it.

I have mixed feelings too about settling Jews in Arab neighborhoods. On the one hand, in an ideal situation, in a Nirvana/Messianic world, I do want to see Jews and Arabs living together everywhere. But as I told my friend, the time is not right for that now. The Arabs aren't ready to have an influx of Jews - especially not ones who aren't interested in getting to know them or their culture, etc. living near them. With the arrival of "settler-types" into Arab neighborhoods comes all the fearful signs for the Arab population - the constant police and army presence to protect the Jewish families (even for very few families), meaning that movement in their area will not be as free as it was - constant checking of their IDs, etc. - whereas beforehand Arabs were able to move around freer in their own neighborhoods.

That doesn't give anyone a right to murder people who do sell their homes to Jews - instead, if someone gets an offer from a Jewish organization, why don't they go to the Palestinian Authority and say - "Hey, these guys just offered me $300,000 for this apartment! I don't want to sell it but I need the money. What can you do to help? Maybe offer me the same and it'll be Palestinian government property?" Who knows. It's just a thought I'm putting out there.

If I were to sell my apartment to an Arab family in my neighborhood, I'd probably still be alive, but in the worst-case scenario the neighbors might harrass the new family - like smash the windows in their car, set fire to their stuff, or some other atrocity. And they wouldn't be entitled to a constant police presence if they moved in here as would Jews moving to an Arab neighborhood - that is the main difference. They'd have to fend for themselves.

But I still am very sad that someone I met only once and who is related to a good friend of mine was murdered for this and I really wish both sides would be tolerant to each other and that my dream of Arabs and Jews living together everywhere in this country can be possible.


Klara said...

I've never been on a blog page, so hope this works. Yes, the whole incident is terribly sad - but my first reaction was to be angry with the Arabs, how can they do that to their own??? My other response to your blog is I hated how you guessed what might happen to an Arab family that would move into your house. It might be an educated guess from your part, but still not factual - and doesn't help dampen the fires.
When I first came to Israel in the 70's, I loved going to the Old City, and felt very at ease amongst the Arabs and also in my neighborhood, there were always Arabs (and donkeys, and camels even) on our streets. Arabs are always welcomed in the Jewish cities - I see them in our stores, hospitals, streets - I can't imagine a Jew can be so free in an Arab city. My question is how do you reach the people one: who incite the hatred (the government, the religious leaders, the teachers, the newspapers) and two, how do you reach the killers?????

Keep up your good work.


jerusalemgypsy said...

Hi Klara,

Unfortunately what I stated about what might happen to an Arab family has happened in Musrara pehaps 6 years ago. There were 2 Arab Christian single women living in Musrara (on the seam of the Old City) and some crazy Jews set fire to their apartment. I remember how awful I felt at the time - I really do not like to think that we can do any of this stuff. We don't like to think we do this - but we do. Not on a grand scale, fortunately. But on the other hand, I do know of Arabs living in some Jewish neighborhoods like Pisgat Zeev and Talpiot and they are being treated just fine. It all depends on the neighborhood.

Liza said...

I remember that story about the two Arab women in Musrara. It was horrifying, and I remember feeling so outraged and disgusted that someone could do such a thing.

How about the story of the Arab family from Baka el Gharbiyeh that wanted to move to the community village of Katzir? The Arab family was looking for quality of life for their children, were prepared to send them to the local Jewish school, etc., yet the people of Katzir fought them tooth and nail, even going to court.

Unfortunately, I think we have a long way to go on both sides towards acceptance and respect for "the other", when people feel that it's okay to kill someone because of who he sold his home to, or when it's people who feel that it's okay to move into an area in order to become a fact on the ground, without taking into account that there are already people living there, without accepting that "the other" has just as much of a right to be there as you do.

As far as seeing "them" in "our" stores, hospitals, and streets, if "they" are also Israeli, they've got just as much of a right to be there as the Jews do. "Our" hospitals are "their" hospitals too. As far as I know, there are no hospitals in any of the exclusively Arab towns in Israel, and frankly, some of the best care (on both a professional and a personal level) I've received in "our" hospitals was given to me by Arab doctors and nurses.

katymcdowell said...

I knew Mike and am very sad that someone would kill a person who had a wife and 6 sweet, beautiful children. He was so kind, generous and hospitable to us, I cant believe this and am having a very hard time with this. I heard he was tortured, I pray this did not happen, why is it necessary to kill a husband, father and soon to be grandfather, let alone torture another human being. If this is not true please let me know. They were the nicest people and he was so kind and went way out of his way for us. If he was tortured, please do not give me details, as I am crying as I write this. I pray for the peace of Jerusalem and these horrible barbaric autrocities would stop!