|zondag 24 juli 2011 21:55|
Hamdan walks with the help of crutches. His legs might not work so well, but his intellect is razor-sharp and his humour is infectious.
He tells me that because of his disability he was hidden away in a room in his house when he was a child. His parents were ashamed, and afraid that people would think his disability was genetic, so his sisters would not be able to find marriage partners. At the age of twelve, Hamdan escaped from his captivity. Now he gives counseling to parents of disabled children. He also takes Jewish people who are intending to emigrate to Israel on educational tours to learn about the realities of life for Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. Many, of course, are not prepared to listen. Others are so shocked by what they learn that they abandon their plans to become Israeli citizens and return to their homelands.
Jamal spent ten years in an Israeli prison because of his underground activities for the Palestinian resistance. He went on hunger strike many times, once for twenty days, to demand better conditions for himself and his comrades. Today he is a dignified gentleman, who proudly tells me that he thinks of our friend and guide, Kristel, as his daughter. He thanks me for the help we are giving to the Palestinian cause. I have never felt so humble.
A boy whose name I will never know stands in a doorway in the Al-Azza refugee camp in Bethlehem. His T-shirt is torn and his face is grubby. In his hand he holds a piece of bent metal: his toy gun. I raise my hands in surrender. He shoots anyway. I clutch my heart and collapse against a wall, dead. Less than a mile away, tourists and pilgrims to the Holy Land are waiting in long lines to visit the Church of the Nativity. How many of them will see the conditions in the refugee camps?