by RICHARD SILVERSTEIN
Samer Issawi is a Palestinian hunger striker who is on a fast to the death. He is currently being treated at Kaplan Hospital and floats in and out of consciousness. Yesterday, Israeli peace activists smuggled from his hospital room, where he is chained like a dog, a letter from his death bed. It is a deeply moving document that must be read. Thank you to Gideon Levy for translating it from Arabic and publishing it.
Among the profound observations he makes is:
Israelis, I’ll die satisfied. I won’t be driven off my land and homeland … you won’t enter my spirit that refuses to give in … maybe now you’ll understand that a sense of freedom is stronger than a sense of death. Don’t listen to your generals and to the dusty myths. The defeated will not remain defeated and the victor will not remain victorious. History is not measured only in battles, massacres and prisons, but in stretching out a hand in peace, to yourselves and to the other.
These are words lost on Israel, I’m afraid, which seems prepared to let him die and absorb the repercussions that will result from yet another Palestinian prisoner death due to Israeli callousness.
But even more callous and inexcusable is a letter published by a bunch of Israeli literary cowardly lions, the liberal Zionist Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua. They don’t call for Issawi’s release. They don’t note the injustice of Israel releasing him as part of the Shalit exchange only to rearrest him for some unspecified violation of the terms of his release. They don’t address at all any of the issues of the conflict.
Instead, these moral pygmies and hypocrites beg Issawi to give up because there is very real progress (of some unspecified character) that would be spoiled by his death:
…There are “new encouraging signs that the negotiations between the sides will resume,” adding that these measures may secure Issawi’s release alongside other Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.
“We urge you to stop your hunger strike and choose life, because we are committed to tirelessly striving toward peace between the two peoples, who will live side by side forever in this country,” the authors concluded.
How heartless of Issawi to go and die when these doyens of Tel Aviv cafe high society have the whole conflict figured out and are on the cusp of settling it. Or at least they trust their visionary leaders to do so on their behalf. How can Issawi or any cynic among us doubt their sincerity!!
How dare they infer that negotiations resuming between the PA and Israel’s settler government will offer hope for the Palestinian prisoner’s release? This is less than hope they offer. It’s a cruel hoax of hope. They say nothing about the overall conflict. They merely mean to say that there is some rumor that Israel may be willing to exile him to a foreign country.
That is supposed to satisfy a man who’s given his life for the Palestinian cause. A man mistreated by an Israel, which released him from years in prison only to take him back for another indeterminate sentence in violation of the Shalit deal.
This man, who is ready to face death, should be happy with the scraps offered to him by the Israeli liberal Zionist elite, who offer him the crumbs of exile. One of the signatories of the letter had the chutzpah to deny that the effort was patronizing! Of course it is the height of noblesse oblige. Why didn’t they merely go to his hotel room with a piece of cake as Marie Antoinette would’ve done?
If Samer Issawi dies, then these moral charlatans will have played their role in making Israel’s tender-hearted elite look fine and reasonable when they are merely part of the Occupation machinery of death.