En tør hvid årstid


En tør hvid årstid

I bogen – En tør hvid årstid (Af Andre Brink) – fortælles hvordan en hvid syd-afrikaner først opdager Apartheid, da hans sorte gartners familie får problemer. Det samme fortæller en israeler her.

You only understand when it happens to someone you know

Ami Isseroff, Dec. 18, 2002

Yesterday (December 17) my friend was arrested. He is being held without charges. It took an entire day to find out where he is being held. “Not possible” you say, “We live in a democracy.” It is possible, and it happened. My friend is a Palestinian. He is not likely to be a terrorist. He helps run the Hope Flowers school that has become an international byword for peace and coexistence. Nonetheless, his house was nearly destroyed. Tonight he sleeps somewhere in a jail in Gush Etzion. His worried family in Bethlehem will not sleep.

Israelis are not aware that beyond the green line, in the occupied territories, there is no rule of law. Our media do not tell us. Nobody is willing to believe it. You only understand when it happens to someone you know…

You are asleep in your house. It is 4 AM. You are awakened by voices of oldiers and marched off to jail. There are no charges, there is no appeal. Your arrest is not announced. At 8 AM bulldozers come to destroy your home. There was no hearing and no trial. You are kept in a detention cell. You do not have your medicines. You do not have warm clothing. Your relatives do not know where you are and cannot find you. There is no one to call, nobody who will give out information. Your loved ones wander from official to official asking “Where is he?” “What are the charges?.” but there are no answers at all for many hours, only “call later,” “it is not my department.”

Where did it happen? Was it a scene out of a novel by Franz Kafka? A Gothic tale of medieval horror? A tragedy of the third Reich? A day in the life of Ivan Denisovitch? A barbaric societal atavistic aberration in a benighted Islamic Republic? No, it is nobody’s imagination, and it did not happen in the USSR, or in Germany or in an Islamic Republic. It happened in Israel, less than 50 kilometers fromm where I live. It happened to my friend, a man of peace, Ibrahim Issa of Hope Flowers school in El Khader. It did not happen long ago. It happened just now, December 17. It is not a unique occurrence.

It happens every day, to many people who are less lucky than Ibrahim Issa, who may have no friends in Israel and the USA to vouch for them, to alert the US Embassy to stop the bulldozers from destroying their homes. Ibrahim Issa and his family run the Hope Flowers school, which has a sterling reputation for upholding values of democracy and coexistence even in the very worst conditions (see http://www.mideastweb.org/hopeflowers). The school was cited as an example of the hope for peace by Hillary Clinton, in the long ago day when the peace process was still alive, and there was still hope for Palestinians and Israelis.

By all indications, Issa made an innocent mistake. He rented a room to one Bilal, who said he was a night watchman from Yatta. Billal gave the keys to his room to Tanzim terrorists. When the IDF caught the terrorists, they decided to mete out punishment and ask questions later. Most people are scarcely aware of this nightmare reality. Israelis are insulated from it by media that do not report it, by the will to ignore reality beyond the green line, and by the invisibility of Palestinians to the Israeli mindset. The near-destruction of the Issaa home rated one or two lines in reports in the media. That is an exception.

There might have been no report at all, but for the fact that intervention by the American Embassy prevented destruction of the house at the last moment. Issa’s arrest and detention were not reported at all. How many other Ibrahim Issas have been detained without trial? How many families have lost their homes for no reason?How many people have lost life or limb? Not by the hands of vile terrorists or by accident, but by the operation of our Israeli army, of which we are so justly proud. We are doing these things – we and our sons and our daughters.

This is the reality of occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. No due process, no judicial oversight until after the fact, if ever. It is the reality experienced by millions of Palestinians each day. “Justice” administered by young officers who are judge, jury and executioner. Ibrahim’s “justice” was meted out by a soldier in the border guards, let’s call him Uzi. Uzi may have no idea what Hope Flowers school is about. He may not know that Hope Flowers is a favorite project of Hillary Clinton, and that his actions are embarrassing Israel as well as punishing an innocent family.. For all we know, he may have no idea who Hillary Clinton is. Every day, Uzi and his friends are generating more innocent Palestinian victims, more Palestinians for whom “peace: is a dirty word.

Every day, they are turning out more and more, enemies of Israel in new and better models: a man whose house was destroyed; a woman whose four year old son was shot for no reason; a child who was shot and paralyzed while standing on his porch. These days, enemies may be Israel’s most “productive” industry. Certainly, this industry has monumentally important consequences for the future. Enemies are our most important product.

Ami Isseroff

Rehovot, Israel

Copyright Ami Isseroff and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, 2002.


MidEast Web was started by people active in Middle East dialog and peace education efforts. Our goal is to weave a world-wide web of Arabs, Jews and others who want to build a new Middle East based on coexistence and neighborly relations. Our members and staff include distinguished educators, engineers, Web designers and other professionals experienced in dialog, peace education projects and in promoting dialog and coexistence using the Internet

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