Yesterday morning over coffee, my wife handed me the paper to point out a story about Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah, who are now homeless thanks to the government support of the extremist settlers in the neighborhood, planning to go to the Gilad Shalit rally in Jerusalem.
“We are extending our hand in peace,” said Ghawi. “We have lost hope that the Israeli establishment is able to make decisions, so we wish to talk directly to the Israeli public. Also, we are here to say that the prisoners are our sons and we favor their release. It is impossible to talk only about one side of the equation – the release of Shalit also means the release of Palestinian prisoners.”
Neither my wife nor I were able to make it to the rally last night. Before reading this story, it didn’t even occur to us to go. But we discussed standing in solidarity with Nasser – as Bassam Aramin, one of the founders of Combatants for Peace, said to me recently, “they’re all our children.”
I woke up this morning to discover that Nasser, his son, and one of the Jewish Israeli activists who was with him were stopped for questioning on their way to the protest last night. They were detained, searched, and humiliated by the police, for no reason other than being a Palestinian and a leftist walking together in Jerusalem.
“They told us it was their right to search, take our cell phones and interrogate us. I asked them ‘Why are you arresting me,’ and they replied ‘because we hate Arabs, but we hate people like you even more’.”
Yotam Wolf, the Israeli activist who was with Nasser last night, tells his version of the story here in Hebrew.
It seemed to me a profound act, for Nasser to stand in solidarity with the Shalit family – to say that their child, as well as the many Palestinian children currently (and in many cases illegally) held in prison, deserve to be able to go home to their parents. I thought back to the night of the flotilla, when two women who were sitting in the Shalit protest tent outside the prime minister’s house, came to shout at those of us protesting nearby – a protest organized, at least in part, by the Sheikh Jarrah activists. How wonderful would it have been to have been able to say to them that our Palestinian friends protested in favor of Shalit’s release as well – that we want freedom and security for everyone’s children.
But alas, the forces that be seem not to be interested in that kind of solidarity. Ynet reports that Nasser will try again to visit the protest tent in the coming days. I hope the next visit is less eventful.