Mother Nature has made this Eid wonderful. The weather here in the city has been amazing, and I have finally began to grasp the concept of using degrees Fahrenheit over Celsius. At first, any time I looked up the weather forecast and saw the number 85 I’d freak out. That has thankfully become a rare event now
Spending Eid in the US was extremely special, and, without sounding too cheesy, symbolized some of the true values of America. My friends and I feasted on authentic Italian food as we discussed our plans for the Fall. My effect on my friends also shone through as the conversation soon took a turn to discuss some recent social and political events, these included the fatal attack on the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and how various religious institutions came together to mourn those who were killed. I was touched by the reactions that I saw on the news. It is these qualities of pluralism and tolerance that are rooted in both American and Muslim ethics.
Eid is all about reaffirming those ideas, and symbolizes a fresh start. We all toasted to that as we ended our dinner. By the time I got home it was around midnight. I decided to call my mom (an early bird) and see how Eid festivities were in Amman. She said that even though that it was great seeing almost every single aunt, uncle, and cousin, most conversations focused on an unsettling story out of Jerusalem. The story gave me chills.
Last Thursday night, during one of the final nights of Ramadan, a group of around 20 Jewish teenagers attacked four Palestinians between the ages of 14 and 17 as they were walking around an area called Zion Square. Nine Jewish teenagers have been arrested so far, and according to reports, Israeli police believe that one of the Israeli teenage girls incited the group to attack the Palestinian youth after claiming to have had a relationship with an Arab. One of the Palestinian teenagers, Jamal Julani, was badly beat up and lost consciousness at the scene. Paramedics were miraculously able to revive him and he is now recovering.
One of paramedics recounted what she saw at the scene on her Facebook page. The Israeli +972 magazine translated what she wrote:
“It’s late at night, and I can’t sleep. My eyes are full of tears for a good few hours now and my stomach is turning inside out with the question of the loss of humanity, the image of God in mankind, a loss that I am not willing to accept. But today I saw a lynch with my own eyes, in Zion Square, the center of the city of Jerusalem… Those who were kicking [Jamal] fled and the rest gathered in a circle around, with some still shouting with hate in their eyes.”
In court, the primary suspect in the beating of Jamal admitted to his actions with no signs of regret or remorse, stating that if he had the chance he’d do it again because Jamal was an Arab.
The event should be a wake-up call to all of those still hoping and wishing for a peaceful end to the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict. With such deeply embedded hatred that is so easily unleashed, true progress on this issue cannot be achieved. Palestinian and Jewish youth are physically segregated from each other. Fear, racism, and prejudice are outcomes of this segregation. Without a united educational front that is pushed for by both parties, it will be impossible for Israeli and Palestinian youth to overcome the stereotypes they are taught about one another.
Peaceful interaction is key, and if the future lies in the hand of youth like those responsible for the attack, there are a lot of things to fix and a limited time to do so.