- Israeli military sources said Khamis Ahmad Ali, head
of a militia linked to the Fatah movement in the Askar refugee camp, near
Nablus, was killed by Israeli commandos.
- Dear friend,
- I received word of your death by Israeli assassins on
Jan. 17. I feel a mixture of sadness and pride, helplessness and hope
- a bittersweet pill one has to swallow in the just Palestinian struggle
against Israeli oppression, tyranny, and occupation.
I learned of your assassination not from your or my family and friends,
but from news reports. Not known in your too-short life, you have become
famous now - albeit not because of who you are, but because of what your
killers claimed you to be: a terrorist.
Can you believe that? The mastermind and cause of all terror in the Middle
East still has the temerity to call its victims "terrorists."
But, wherever you might be now my friend, you may rest assured that, regardless
of what Israel calls you, I call you a friend. The only thing Israel knew
about you and hated was your love for freedom and self-determination.
I too knew that about you and much more.
I remember you as my shy young friend who politely cleared your throat
at our door whenever you visited our home so as not to embarrass my sisters
by catching them unaware of your presence. I remember your love for poetry,
music, debkeh dancing, and your enthusiasm for body-building.
- Perhaps you care less about what Israel's propaganda
machine in the U.S. and elsewhere labels you. I do, however, care a lot.
Because your assassination tells as much about the crooked morality of
Israel as it does about the righteousness of the Palestinian cause. Yet,
Israel's campaign to dehumanize the Palestinians in order to justify its
apartheid policies against them is spreading like wildfire across America.
Listen, my friend. Israel's crimes are being sold to the American public
as self-defense - merely preemptive strikes against terrorists. See? Even
the president of the U.S., George W. Bush, says he "understands why
Israel does what it does." See, my friend? Very few Americans would
question why an Israeli sniper would shoot and kill a 10-year-old Palestinian
child. Instead the majority of Americans would wonder what a Palestinian
child was doing in the path of an Israeli bullet.
I know the Israelis have always wanted you dead. Not just because you are
Palestinian. But because you rejected tyranny in a voice loud enough for
them to hear. But why did Israel have to assassinate you? You never fled
from battle, even when all you had to confront Israel's M-16s, Uzi machine
guns, tanks and helicopters were onions and a slingshot.
Remember when, in 1978, a protest was staged against Meir Kahane's attempts
to plant a Jewish settlement in the heart of Nablus, our hometown? Israeli
soldiers surrounded our high school and started bombarding us with tear
gas. I recall how you managed to sneak in with two bags full of fresh
onions and cotton. We knew what the cotton was for, but wondered about
the onion. "The smell of onion," you told us, "is Palestine's
natural defense against Israel's tear gas."
We were all crying from the tear gas but laughing at what you said, and
then we heard our teacher, Nabil, say, "I hope the soldiers don't
make onion soup out of all of you." At that we laughed even harder
You should have been killed in action, but the Israelis chose the way of
the coward. In the darkness of the night they waited for you. They hid
behind the tombstones of Palestinians they had killed the morning before,
the trunks of trees they had uprooted the day before, the rubble of homes
they had demolished the night before, and behind the fragile walls defending
a defenseless Palestinian refugee camp. Then, at 4:30 a.m. their chosen
target arrived, and the army of assassins shot to kill. Alleluia, one
more Palestinian is down.
Just between you and me - and you know I won't tell anybody what were you
doing out all alone at 4:30 a.m., anyway? Protecting the camp and its
15,000 refugees from Israel's army trying yet again to reoccupy what they
already occupy? That's the version Israel would like us to believe. Rise
and answer me, my friend. Was that it? Were you trying to be a hero?
The truth is that you were just returning to your shanty home after spending
the night taking care of your ailing grandmother.
Damn you. You have left six children behind. Did you never think Palestine
has no dire need for six more orphans? Or the camp does not need more
hungry mouths to feed? No, you did not - because you did not want to die.
You just wanted to go home.
Why am I speaking on your behalf? Why don't you rise and speak up and
tell the whole world that once again Israel has lied about its victims?
Remember in 1976 how, where, and when they killed 17-year-old Leena Nabulsi?
They fabricated a story only the Israeli public and its trusting American
ally would buy. The Israeli army claimed that Leena threatened the life
of an Israeli soldier during a demonstration at her school. Israel radio
reported that their soldier first fired warning shots in the air, then
shot at her feet, and finally had to shoot her when she pulled a knife
That was a lie from start to finish. Leena had no knife and threatened
no one s life. She did not want to kill anyone, nor did she seek to be
executed in cold blood. She, like all of us, demonstrated against the
occupation and threw stones at the soldiers from behind the fence of our
school. The difference between Leena and the rest of us that day was that
she dared to carry the Palestinian flag. The flag angered the Israelis
more than our stones, which fell short of their target.
An Earlier Execution
After the protest was over we all walked home. One Israeli soldier recognized
Leena as the girl who had carried and waved the Palestinian flag. He pointed
at her, yelled at her, and ordered her to stand still. She was scared.
We all were scared. Leena ran away, and so did we. We hid in an apartment
building a few blocks from our school. The soldiers followed us into the
building. They found us hiding in one apartment, and they found Leena
hiding under the dining table in the living room of a family we did not
know. The soldier pointed at her and said, "There she is!" and
another opened fire. She was executed right then and there, in front of
everyone present, so we could see, take note, and learn the lesson.
Is it any wonder, then, why we do not believe the Israelis and never will?
My friend, you must rise and speak. The only witnesses to your murder were
you and your killers. If you do not testify now, they will rewrite the
scenario and reprint the book. As always, they will have been cleaning
their weapons, reloading the magazines, and crying harder about being
victims of Palestinian terror. In front of their own judge in their own
court they will claim that a monstrous shadow of a savage Palestinian
emerged from the midst of a refugee camp, attacked them, threatened their
safety and endangered the security of the state of Israel.
You are the salt of the earth now and to you the land will sing: Resurrect.
The promise is still the promise. We will look forward and we shall witness
the sun of our dreams cutting through the thick clouds and it shall pour
down freedom. And when it is time for the Palestinians to celebrate the
arrival of their liberty I will dance debkeh and I will dedicate a turn
just for you. This is my promise to you. Congratulations, my friend, and
so long. ___
- Emadeddin J. Fraitekh is the Washington Report's Executive
- http://www.wrmea.com/fraitekh/index_letters.htm 6 3 2002