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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

 

Hebron: On Hatred

By Maureen Jack

23 November 2005

I'd not met him before. He's perhaps slightly older than I and he was
wearing a green cap, not unlike my red CPT one. By his accent he was
clearly originally from London, though he now lives in a settlement. I said
hello. 'Fuck you. Screw you,' he said.

We were standing across the street from an entrance to the Israeli
settlement of Beit Hadassah in Hebron. I was there with Anne and John (both
in their late seventies) and some other internationals on school patrol at
the foot of steps leading up to Qurtuba School, a school for Palestinian
girls. We were waiting for the girls to come down on their way home. He
was there with a group from Women in Green, an organization committed to
support for Israeli settlements. They were also there waiting for the
schoolgirls.

The girls and women teachers started to make their way nervously down the
crumbled steps. The Israeli visitors pushed forward taking photos. We got
in between them as best we could. I didn't document at all. I took no
photos. I have no idea of what went on around me. All I could see was the
fear on the faces of the women and girls. All I could feel was the tremor
in their hands as I helped them down. All I could hear was my faltering
Arabic as I tried to find something reassuring to say.

And then it was over. The girls and the teachers were all on their way
home. But the Israeli ex-Londoner was not finished. 'Have you got cancer
yet? I hope so,' he said to me. 'Please don't say that. My husband died
of cancer six years ago,' I replied. 'I am happy about that,' he said.

What has this man's life been like that he has such hatred? How is he
feeling now? Is he thinking of me, as I am thinking of him? Is he weeping
now, as I am? And am I weeping for myself, or for him?

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