In Memoriam: Bassem Abu Rahma
It does not devalue the lives or the deaths of white or Western heroes to say that we live in a racist world that refuses to know the names of heroes like Bassem Abu Rahma, that our world honors heroes with the resources to get on a jet-plane, that it honors less heroes that can never afford a jet-plane. A year ago the Israeli army murdered Bassem Abu Rahma for defending his land in Bilin. Remember him.
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He loved everyone, and because of his sweetness and ability to make us laugh, everyone loved him. Bassem was everyone’s friend: the children talk about how he would play with them, scare them and then make them laugh. He would tend the garden in the playground and bring toys and books to the kindergarten.
The old ladies in the village talk about how he used to visit, to ask after them and see if they needed anything. In the village, he seemed to be everywhere at once.
He would pop in to say hello, take one puff of the nargila, and be off to his next spot. The morning he was killed he went to the house of Hamis, whose skull had been broken at a previous demonstration three months ago by a tear gas canister projectile – the same weapon that would kill Bassem.
Bassem woke Hamis and gave him his medicine, then off he went to visit another friend in the village who is ill with cancer. Then a little girl from the village wanted a pineapple but couldn’t find any in the local stores.
So Bassem went to Ramallah to get a pineapple and was back before noon for the Friday prayers and the weekly demonstration against the theft of our land by the apartheid wall. Pheel never missed a demonstration; he participated in all the activities and creative actions in Bilin.
He would always talk to the soldiers as human beings. Before he was hit he was calling for the soldiers to stop shooting because there were goats near the fence and he was worried for them. Then a woman in front of him was hit.
He yelled to the commander to stop shooting because someone was wounded. He expected the soldiers to understand and stop shooting. Instead, they shot him too.
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