CHAPTER 6: FORGIVENESS
The Blind Eye
Once a man performed a good deed, and God wanted to reward him. However, he had been badly treated by his brother and now nourished a deep hatred. Not wanting to encourage him, God sent His Angel and told the man that as a remuneration for his deed he would receive anything he wished - on the condition that his brother would receive twice as much.
The angel gave the man time to think. The man dreamed about the mountains of gold he could get... but then his brother would get even more. He dreamed about the lands he would farm... but his brother would receive more lands. He dreamed about having many children but his brother would have more.
The angel came to hear his decision. The man trembled, caught between his dreams and hatred. Finally he told the angel: "I wish to be good but I cannot. Please leave me with one eye."
Once upon a time during the Intifada a car accident happened near the crossroads Bethlehem-Hebron-Beit Jala. The driver was a Christian young man from Bethlehem. The child who was knocked down and killed was a Moslem from Abu Dis village near Jerusalem. The Arab custom on such occasions is to send some dignitaries who know the tribal traditional laws (Al 'Urf) well and know how to make a truce (Al Athwa) so as to avoid any revenge or bloodshed instigated by the family of the victim.
So some elderly men of Bethlehem area went to Jerusalem. There they met the old people of the victim. The Bethlehem spokesman and his companions started to make apologies for what happened and requested a truce on behalf of the Bethlehem people. The spokesman who represented the family of the child stood up and told them that he would not make any truce unless the driver who caused the fatal accident would appear in front of all the people.
The Bethlehem notables became worried and could not understand the motive behind the highly unusual demand. After consultations, the spokesman of the Bethlehemites stood up and, hesitatingly, accepted the demand, asking for guarantees to secure the safety of the driver. The Jerusalem spokesman stood up and said: "After God, the sole guaranteer of all, I am the one who can secure his life. No one will touch him or inflict any harm on him. However, please bring him here in front of all."
Then a group of elderly people went back to Bethlehem and brought the driver. All people on both sides were worried and afraid. The old spokesman ordered for coffee to be served. Now according to tradition, coffee is served only after the truce has been agreed upon. Some people who were ignorant about the custom drank the coffee, but most wanted to wait until the announcement came.
The old man noticed that many of the Bethlehem people did not drink their coffee. He stood up, and insisted that everybody should drink it. After they did so, he said: "God had given us this child and God has taken him. We are all sorry. This young driver did not intend to kill him. May God forgive him and forgive us all. Go back, you people of Bethlehem. This is life and we are all people of the same God of the same country. We neither want Athwa nor any compensation. May God pardon you and have mercy on our son and all the dead..."
The Lost Boys
At one day during the time of the Intifada two young Jewish boys from Jerusalem ran to catch the last bus. Panting profusely, and relieved that they had caught the bus, they did not realize that they took the wrong direction. At the end of the route, they left the bus and looked around them. Where were they? The bus driver wanted to go home and did not bother to help them. Not knowing where to go, they chose a road which they thought would lead them back home. However, the road led them only further astray.
They walked away from Jerusalem into Bethlehem. While walking for hours in the dark, they saw the dim houses along the road becoming stranger and poorer. Leaving Bethlehem they walked towards Dheisha refugee camp.
There, finally, was a man at a gas station who stopped them. They did not know what to do. The man was Arab, could they trust him? He was friendly and suggested the kids to call their home.
The kids' parents were terribly worried. Hearing that the boys were in a Palestinian refugee camp did not lessen their worries. They knew there had been regular clashes between Palestinian refugees and Israeli soldiers. The kids could have been kidnapped! But nothing dramatic happened. The man at the gas station simply put on a fire in the cold night and kept the boys warm until their parents came to pick them up.
After the parents had thanked him and made ready to leave homewards, the man asked them to stay one minute more. He told the boys' parents about the fate of his family. Some of his brothers were in prison and another had died of Israeli bullets. However, he said that he was glad to do the parents a favor. He did not feel hatred towards the Jews.
A Palestinian Woman and an Israeli Child
During one of the Intifada days, a young Palestinian woman was trapped between two groups of Israeli soldiers and Palestinian stone throwers. Gas grenades were thrown and the woman had to close the windows of her car. She was four months pregnant. She felt about to suffocate but managed to go home. However, her pains increased and at night she was admitted to the hospital. Next day she had an abortion and saw her four months old' baby boy dead. She was terribly depressed since it was the second abortion she suffered during the last three years.
A week later she visited a medical doctor in Jerusalem for a check up. When coming out of the doctor's clinic, she saw nearby on top of an electric staircase an Israeli child who was recklessly playing and about to fall down. Thoughts rushed through her mind. Should she leave him and let him die the way the Israeli soldiers let her boy die a week ago, or should she make a desperate attempt to grab him? All of a sudden, she felt an impulse that made her hurry forwards. Throwing herself in front of the boy she prevented his fall...