The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Paying Our Condolences in Salem

Daphne Banai • 7 October 2004

We went to the village of Salem, to pay respect and express our condolences to the family of Sa'al Jabara who had been killed on September 29, 2004, by a settler. Eye witnesses told us they had been driving on a sand path out of the village. Sa'al made a living driving people on the paths in and out of his village. All regular roads are blocked with concrete cubes, dirt mounds and deep ditches that surround the village. The road we traveled on is forbidden to Palestinians. It is an Apartheid road – permitted only to Israelis. Sa'al attempted to CROSS that road on his way to the next village, Beit Dajan, not to travel on it, God forbid (!), just cross it! But that, too, is a felony. The settler saw him from far away, got out of his car and waited as Sa'al and his six passengers drew near. Sa'al opened his window to talk, even managed to ask, “Is something wrong ?” when he was shot twice from a distance of two (!!) meters. As Sa'al was bleeding and the passengers begged the settler to call for help, the settler said, smiling,“ let him die”. Another settler’s car stopped to offer help, but the first settler told them to go away. They did.

The settler was arrested, but immediately released, as the judge declared there is not enough proof the killing was intentional. The police admitted the settler had lied and changed his version several times, but still, they cannot rely on the five testimonies of the Palestinians, as they are not objective!!!! THIS IS HOW JUSTICE IS PERFORMED IN 2004 ISRAEL! This is why Palestinians refrain from complaining to the Israeli Authorities. They say – what good will it do? Will we get fair justice?

Getting to Salem was almost a military operation – there is no legal prohibition on entering the village, but every time we had gone there in the past, once spotted by the Israeli Army, they said that if we don't leave immediately they will search, house-to-house, with all the implications – total destruction and chaos – something like after a burglary in our normal lives. So we left. This time our driver dropped us off somewhere on the settler's road, (it was, we realized too late, a mistake to come on the Jewish holiday as we were the only vehicle on the Apartheid road - very, very conspicuous, but luckily, we weren't caught). We ran to the dirt path, and after 200 meters were not seen from the road anymore. One kilometer further down, our Palestinian friends were waiting for us, not daring come any closer to that road.

At that spot we met a couple of elderly Palestinians, sixty - seventy years old, and their ten year old grandson, who were picking olives. They asked if we could come one day and help them – most of their trees are close to the road and both the army and settlers would shoot them if they picked their OWN PRIVATE OLICES, FROM THEIR OWN REGISTERED LAND! They told us there are orchards on the other side of the road, theirs as well, but they haven't set foot in them for years. What should they do?, they asked, with begging eyes.

When we reached the mourners' home, we joined the women first. The widow seemed in shock, and so did her nineteen year old daughter. Their faces numb and expressionless. We thought at first it was hostility towards us, but saw that was their reaction to Palestinians, too. The other women told us the family lost their sole provider, and since they were poor when he was alive – they have nothing to eat now. Looking around, we noticed the house has no furniture – only the mattresses on the floor, serving the mourners. The deceased left behind six children, two of whom are blind. All of the children seem very timid, but then entered Jasmine, eighteen years old, blind from birth.

Jasmine is a confident, very verbal and fluent in English, young woman. She went to a boarding school in Ramallah, but a year ago returned to her home and goes to the local high school. She is proud of being a top student in a regular school. And with good reason. Her dream is to complete her Matriculation exams, go to University and become an English teacher. She spoke about how she feels no hate, but has patience for the ones who have darkened her world once again…. What a remarkable young woman! She told us how her father had been dedicated to her and her blind brother, Mohamed, 14 years old, also a very confident and able boy who drives his bike around the village, having studied the structure of streets in the village to such an extent as to enable him to dash through them like any other child.

We were told that in 1994 the two children had been diagnosed and there was a possibility of restoring part of their sight, but such an operation was way beyond the financial abilities of the poor family. Since we are in contact with Doctors for Human Rights we want to check the matter and see if we could be of help there. Maybe we can turn this terrible evil into some good and fulfill Sa'al's dream. We have already contacted a senior eye surgeon at Shiba hospital, and we shall run the matter on…

We wanted to help the family and asked A.J. their uncle, how to donate without embarrassing them. Could we give him some money and he will hand it to them later? A.J. thought about it and replied – he would like us to give it to the family directly. He wants them to see that not all Israelis are alike. He wants their children to grow up without hate. So, could we, please, give it directly to Mohamed, the blind son who is now acting as the head of the family?.

On our way out, we saw the same family, - the two elders and grandson, in their olive orchard, waving goodbye and shouting "Allah yebarekum" (God bless you). An hour later we got an urgent call from A.J. – the old man had just been arrested and taken by the army, they were picking too close to the road, (a road that came into existence hundreds of years after they had owned this land). We couldn't help, for we were busy in Hirbet Yanun, trying to free another olive picker.

The next morning A.J. called me to try to get help - there are settlers from Elon Moreh inside the old couple's orchard. He dares not come close, but he hears cries from inside the orchard. As much as I dislike it, I called the army. And as an army jeep drew near, the settlers calmly left, (no haste, no one will scold them, no matter what.) As the settlers left, A.J. saw the results – the little boy was badly beaten, the sacks ripped, and all the olives, - a week's hard labor, - were scattered on the ground around the old couple, who were sitting in the midst of their orchard, holding their heads in their hands, crying their hearts out…

A.J. also told me what had happened to the old man the day before – he was released at the gates of the Elon Moreh settlement, some five kilometers from his orchard, at 10:30 at night. Alone, the old man walked along the mountains back home, almost dying of fear, because if the army sees anyone wandering around those mountains at night they shoot without warning, thinking him to be a terrorist… At 1:00 in the morning he arrived, shaken and exhausted…





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

21 October 2004

Other Articles From This Issue:

Think Tanks, Reunions and Medals
George Young

Tribute to George
Bernadette McAliskey

Aspects of British Propaganda during the War of Independence
Mags Glennon

Born Iron, Living Free
Marc Kerr

Arise Ye Bored and Read Again
Anthony McIntyre

Blame Orange Order But Buck Stops with British Crown
Father Sean Mc Manus

Capt. Kelly Campaign Update
Fionbarra O'Dochartaigh

None of the Above
Fred A. Wilcox

Reflections On Swift Boats and Slow Wits
Peter Urban

Street Seen, Making the Invisible Visible
Press Release

Paying Our Condolences in Salem
Daphne Banai

The Israeli Invasion of North Gaza
Jennifer Loewenstein

15 October 2004

Intimidation Continues in Rathenraw
Anthony McIntyre

Mick Hall

Choosing the Green
Liam O Ruairc

Anti-Racism Network Rally
ARN Steering Committee

A Coversation with Gerry Adams
Paul de Rooij



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