Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, February 2012
Traffic Tragedy, Khader Adnan's Hunger Strike, and One-State Conference at Harvard University
By Mazin Qumsiyeh
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, February 20, 2012
We try in these emails to provide information that lead to action or directly ask you to take action based on conviction for our common humanity. Convictions without action is not conviction. Please try to take at least one action of compassion per day (or at least every other day). As a minimum, even from the safety of your keyboard, you can email letters to media and politicians (in other words not just messages to those already converted) pressuring them to end wars and conflicts.
If one tenth of those getting these messages act in this manner then that
is 5000 actions per day.
[I teach at Al-Quds University and Israel does not like the fact that it is
called Al-Quds and is located in Abu-Dis (a suburb of Arab Jerusalem) so the
apartheid system is punishing the graduates as a form of
This also blogged at http://popular-resistance.blogspot.com/2012/02/compassion.html where you can put comments.
We had a really bad day this week. Nine Palestinian very young children were killed and 40 other kindergarden children injured (some severely) in one horrific fiery traffic accident today and another child was killed in a separate traffic accident.
The day started with me breaking a glass and then having to talk to a lawyer about a notice I just received to go to military court on 1 April (more on this later as it becomes clear what I will be charged with).
Then I am rushing to do interview live on an international TV station then driving to Ramallah for an important meeting and then to my afternoon classes at Birzeit University. Well, I never made it to the Ramallah meeting because the road was blocked for this horrific accident; an Israeli licensed trailer truck (driven by an Israeli Arab citizen) carrying fuel hit the Palestinian bus carrying children on a trip head on and the bus turned over and burst in flames (the bus burned not the trailer!).
This happened near the Palestinian village of Hizma and the villagers rushed to save the children. The Israeli cars could double back and go through the wall on the Israeli only roads. We in the Palestinian cars had to wait as ambulance after ambulance took the dead and injured away. Below are links to picture and video (some of the video was rightly blurred so that the disturbing images of burned children are not seen).
A person also sent me a link to Facebook pages in Hebrew where some sick Israelis thank God these were Palestinian Children (also see below). But I also saw very kind comments by Israelis on the liberal Haaretz (though this also has anonymous ugly comments some could be misrepresenting who they are or trying to create division).
This made me really angry that a tragedy that saddened so many decent
people (Jews, Christians, Muslims etc) is used in ugly fashions.
But why did so many ignore it or feel no compassion because it is not their children or belong to their self-identified (fictional) group. A 33-year old Palestinian Khader Adnan is on his 61 days of hunger strike (because he is held without charge in so called administrative detention by Israel). How many will care if he dies or care now about him?
Regardless of his background, isn't he someone's husband, someone's father, someone's son, someone's uncle? Below is a letter from a friend about Khader Adnan's situation. These and other stories that break our hearts do not seem to elicit even a blip of compassion and care from millions who may tangentially hear about these things. Some people say there is "compassion fatigue" among some of us but I disagree.
I believe once you have true compassion for fellow human beings you can
never tire of it; compassion here is defined as compassion for all human
beings not selected members of your "tribe", "nation", "religion" or other
concocted group identity (to me this is the opposite of compassion).
"Upon hearing the news of the wedding party turned to tragedy by collapse of the building in Jerusalem, my shock and sadness were intense. It only got worse and turned to tears when I later saw the video footage and read about the alleged construction problems. The video footage reminded me of the footage of my sister's wedding.
I was touched by the ordinariness and beauty of this event and then the tragedy that ensued. I grieve for the victims and my thoughts and prayers are with the families and with you all. Please accept my sincerest and humble condolences.
I am a Palestinian American who works for human rights, including the Palestinian refugees' right to return to their homes and lands. I believe that all people of Israel/Palestine must and will eventually live in one democratic and secular state with a constitution that protects all its citizens and treats them equally. We are so similar and it is a shame that political ideas (Zionism and other forms of nationalism) divided us.
In 1967, as a 10-year old child in Beit Sahur, I witnessed something that
still touches me to this day - a reunion between my grandfather and his
Jewish best friend from high school. Two old folks who had not seen each
other between 1948 and 1967. Two old folks who cried like children. Both are
gone now. I thought of this, and how much I miss the wisdom of my
grandfather as I saw the recent events and the tragedies and the victims of
violence in our homeland.
If the Berlin wall tumbled, Apartheid in South Africa was dismantled, and
Europe is unifying, why can't we do the same? Imagine if the billions of
dollars we spend on weapons were spent to better our economies, desalinate
sea water, develop closer relationships and friendships, and provide therapy
for the over 17,000 injured in the recent violence.
The article and image of the Facebook pages of the Israelis grateful these are Palestinian Children (scroll down past the French) http://www.palestinalibre.org/articulo.php?a=37816 But see above for my comments.
By contrast see comments under this story from the liberal, left leaning
THIS IS A DEATH SENTENCE. Since day 45 of his hunger strike, Adnan could
die any moment.
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