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A Grieving Father Speaks
January 27, 2007 6:29 AM   Subscribe

"I've lost my heart."

Peace activist Bassam Aramin reacts to the murder of his daughter, Abir.
posted by felix betachat (32 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Someone want to tell Tom Friedman?
posted by felix betachat at 6:29 AM on January 27, 2007


What should I tell him?
posted by loquax at 7:19 AM on January 27, 2007


...[T]he greatest restraint on human behavior is never a policeman or a border guard. The greatest restraint on human behavior is what a culture and a religion deem shameful. It is what the village and its religious and political elders say is wrong or not allowed. Many people said Palestinian suicide bombing was the spontaneous reaction of frustrated Palestinian youth. But when Palestinians decided that it was in their interest to have a cease-fire with Israel, those bombings stopped cold. The village said enough was enough.

loquax: This statement has always stuck with me as an instance of Friedman's colossal arrogance where the Arab experience is concerned. His criminally banal column the other day, Martin Luther Al-King? is yet another example of this attitude. Friedman is like the guy with sunglasses on railing against the darkness; the complex and painful moral posture of someone like Bassam Aramin is literally beyond his comprehension.
posted by felix betachat at 7:34 AM on January 27, 2007


It is a good post. There's no need to let Friedman's inane pseudo-intellectualism sully it.
posted by blendor at 7:39 AM on January 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


Thanks for the links. Everybody on all sides needs to think more like Bassam Aramin. How to make it happen, though?
posted by carter at 7:52 AM on January 27, 2007


Considering what a wonderful cause Bassam Aramin is working for, I'd say that your choice of the word "murder"* for your last link is loaded. None of the links presented seem to carry the implication contained in the FPP that Abir Aramin was deliberately killed.

Not that any discussion in this arena has any chance of being civil or productive, given the depth of pain and rage of the partisans of either side - and this is the huge hill Aramin and his comrades have to try to surmount to have any success - but it could at least have been started out without the invective.

Bassim Aramin is a brave man and I feel sick at his loss. Such a tragic waste of human life, and it often feels to me like we will never find a way to keep human beings from hating and killing each other.

* Dictionary definitions vary somewhat, but generally define murder as an intentional killing with some element of malice aforethought.
posted by John Smallberries at 8:47 AM on January 27, 2007


My soul cringes every time I read of a parent having to bury a child. Salaam alaikum, Mr. Aramin.
posted by pax digita at 9:03 AM on January 27, 2007


What pax digita said.

Such a tragic waste of human life, and it often feels to me like we will never find a way to keep human beings from hating and killing each other.

Don't be so pessimistic. 60 years ago there were no more bitter enemies on the planet than the French and the Germans. Look where they are today.

Compared to the European wars of the last century, the current situation in the ME is little more than a traffic accident. Aramin's hill is not so huge - but his loss is inestimable.
posted by three blind mice at 9:29 AM on January 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the post.
posted by languagehat at 9:38 AM on January 27, 2007


Peace is dangerous.
posted by fairmettle at 10:04 AM on January 27, 2007


.
posted by zouhair at 10:14 AM on January 27, 2007


I don't even know what to say to that. I'm ashamed to be an Israeli.
posted by limon at 10:18 AM on January 27, 2007


.
posted by russilwvong at 10:29 AM on January 27, 2007


I'm not going to lose my common sense, my direction, only because I've lost my heart, my child. I will continue to fight in order to protect her siblings and her classmates, her girlfriends, both Palestinians and Israelis. They are all our children.

That as a surprising ending - incredible to me that he doesn't intend to give up.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:06 AM on January 27, 2007


.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:38 AM on January 27, 2007


Oh, and this guy is a real mensch. My hat is off to him -- the world needs more people like this. I wish I could bring his daughter back.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:41 AM on January 27, 2007


John Smallberries, murder is Aramin's choice of words. From the first link:

"From what I was told I understood that the children threw stones and the Border Police threw a grenade at Abir's head, from behind, from a distance of four meters. At first they said she had been wounded by a stone. I'm familiar with that game, but I didn't believe that they would sink to such a despicable level - sorry for using that word - when they said on Channel 2 that Abir had been playing with something that exploded on her head. Her fingers were whole and her head exploded? They're contemptible, I said. Liars. They send a boy of 18 with an M16 and tell him that our children are his enemies, and he knows that nobody will stand trial and therefore he shoots in cold blood and turns into a murderer. "

Whether the word is precisely accurate in this case is unknowable, considering that the exact cause of death appears uncertain. Nor could we get inside the mind of the soldier responsible. But such callous disregard for life is tantamount to murder, whether specifically intended or no. On some level, those who send soldiers into these situations know that civilian casualties will ensue and believe that collective punishment furthers their goals.
posted by Manjusri at 11:55 AM on January 27, 2007


.
posted by MapGuy at 12:12 PM on January 27, 2007


The Israeli Border Police (the Magav), is widely known for its systematic brutality and incidents of rights violations and casual killings are well documented.

It's a terrible state of affairs. The Magav are, in many cases, the front line of the security state. They are the first to mobilize when a security alert goes out, and they bear the brunt of the blame when a suicide bomber gets through. Add to that their vanguard position during the two intifadahs and the daily hostility they have to put up with from the Palestinians they administer and you have here a perfect recipe for radicalization, brutalization and dehumanization.

This is not to say that any Border Policeman is exempt from his moral responsibilities, least of all the killers of Abir Aramin. It is only to explain that a culture of violence with concrete social and policy roots has taken root within the institution. Knowing this, and knowing as well that the official government line is gradual expropriation of Palestinian land and the disenfranchisement of the occupied populations, it's hard to see that there is much genuine concern at the State level for these sorts of outrages.

So, shall we quibble over semantics? The State of Israel has demonstrated its willingness to tolerate extraordinary acts of aggression by the Magav against Palestinian civilians. And it has taken no steps to address the systemic brutality evident in that organization. In such a circumstance, and when it is evident that this situation in some sense serves larger policy goals, the use of the term "murder" in this case is warranted.

The individual policeman might have fired or thrown a grenade in error. This does not change the fact that Abir Aramin was murdered.
posted by felix betachat at 12:17 PM on January 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


So, shall we quibble over semantics?

Yes, because while I agree with you, the front page is supposed to be free of editorializing. Flagged.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:31 PM on January 27, 2007


a culture of violence with concrete social and policy roots has taken root within the institution.

I think so. And the dehumanization of the 'enemy,' whoever they may happen to be, is one of the most important cultural values to be established amongst the members of any organization - police, army, terrorist - that has as one of the outcomes of its actions the possible killing of other human beings.
posted by carter at 12:42 PM on January 27, 2007


This breaks my heart.

Absolutely inexcusable. Murder, indeed. History will not forget.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:12 PM on January 27, 2007


History will not forget.

Yeah. Right. As Napoleon observed, l'historie est une suite de mensonges sur lesquels on est d'accord.
posted by three blind mice at 1:52 PM on January 27, 2007


I visited the west bank a month ago. The level of kafka-esque suffering the wall, the border police, the various Palestinian factions, and the Israeli army have created is difficult to comprehend. It's like Apartheid South Africa, Bosnia, and East Berlin rolled into one.
posted by cell divide at 2:25 PM on January 27, 2007


Fantastic post. Flagged as such.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:28 PM on January 27, 2007


Limon: "I don't even know what to say to that. I'm ashamed to be an Israeli."

I'm ashamed to be an American. Heck, I'm ashamed to be human.

From the first link:

"Before the film I had asked myself why Hitler didn't kill all of them; had he killed all of them I wouldn't be in prison. But I wanted to concentrate on the film and to understand what the Holocaust was. After 15 minutes at the film I found myself crying over those people who were about to die naked, for no fault of their own, only because they were Jews. Most of the other prisoners were sleeping; I didn't wanted anyone to see me crying. Who are you crying over? Over the people who put you in prison, who are occupying us?"

Play with fire. Get burned. Violence from large numbers of eccentrics in one ethnic group, mindlessly towards that of another ethnic group, it's sometimes referred to as ethnic cleansing. It's a kind of firestorm. Fire destroys but it can also cleanse.

I only wish people could find a better way to connect, than to do so, with so much pain. Rest in peace, Abir. I pray your death makes enough people cry, and understand.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:48 PM on January 27, 2007


Fire destroys but it can also cleanse.

Please elaborate on this. I just want to be sure you're not saying what I think you're saying.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:41 PM on January 27, 2007


A horrible tragedy. However, I must have missed something. The father's statement about what happened is completely at odds with even what the Palestinians who blame the Israelis have claimed. And I don't see any reason in that NYT article to conclude that the Israelis were responsible for her death (much less that it was intentional murder). Surely it has not escaped the attention of the posters here that Palestinian sources are not always truthful about these altercations with the Israelis.
posted by Dolukhanova at 8:12 PM on January 27, 2007


Play with fire. Get burned. Violence from large numbers of eccentrics in one ethnic group, mindlessly towards that of another ethnic group, it's sometimes referred to as ethnic cleansing. It's a kind of firestorm. Fire destroys but it can also cleanse.

If you're saying what I think you're saying, maybe you should read on.

"Many things that I saw in the film about the Holocaust I saw afterward in life. I saw in the intifada how they buried people alive in Salem, and how they killed a woman and left her on the road, just as in the film where I saw a Nazi officer who fired at a woman from his window and afterward people passed by and left her on the road. How can someone who knows the taste of suffering, slavery and racism do the same thing to another nation?...
posted by dreamsign at 12:42 AM on January 28, 2007


Thanks for this felix.
Truly sadenning.
posted by hadjiboy at 3:45 AM on January 28, 2007


.
posted by lalochezia at 1:55 PM on January 28, 2007


Mr Aramin's account of the events is not supported by the New York Times. The account in that paper seems to be carefully worded to avoid identifying the party responsible - his daughter was "killed ... during a clash" ... "[she] was hit in the back of the head" . The reporter notes differing accounts of the (jointly conducted) autopsy and he mentions the only physical evidence supporting the Palestinian claims: "a rubber-coated steel bullet that witnesses said they had found at the scene".

The carefully noncommital description of events makes me think the journalist doubts the Palestinian account, which is contradicted even by Mr Aramin's own claim. He says that his daughter Abir was killed by an exploding gas grenade thrown "at [her] head, from behind, from a distance of four meters." Surely his other daughter Arin (or Areen) could not have mistaken a rubber-coated bullet for a grenade exploding against her sister's head.

I am not going to judge a man mourning the loss of his daughter, but I have no problem scrutinising an activist who calls himself a "Combatant for Peace". Why does he have no words of criticism for the people attacking the soldiers? Are the soldiers' lives valueless? At the very least, could he not have criticised them for starting a battle outside a school at the time children were leaving their classes? (*) Surely this attack is the sort of thing that should be opposed by a peace activist, even if the tragedy had not happened.

This child's death was a tragedy. It doesn't matter whether she was killed by a rubber-coated bullet, a gas grenade, or a rock thrown by a Palestinain cadre. The forces that caused her death are the ignorance, hatred, blame and fear that pervade these two societies. I don't expect Mr Aramin the father to step above these, but I would hope that Mr Aramin the peace activist would be able to say something about violence in general, not just the anonymous soldier he believes responsible for the death of his daughter.


(*) I hope nobody thinks that the soldiers came across a band of people throwing stones into empty space, and decided to attack them.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:41 AM on January 29, 2007


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