Abir’s Garden

Last year I posted a heartbreaking article by Bassam Aramin, a Palestinian whose 10 year old daughter Abir (right) was killed by a rubber bullet by Israeli border police in the West Bank town of Anata. Bassam is a co-founder of Combatants for Peace – an important coexistence organization made of former Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants – and in his article, he eloquently wrote of his desire to channel his grief to pursue justice and peace, rather than revenge:

We know that to serve our people, we must fight not each other but the hatred between us. We must find a way to share this land each people holds in the depths of its soul, to build two states side by side. Only then will the mourning end.

I will not rest until the soldier responsible for my daughter’s death is put on trial, and made to face what he has done. I will see to it that the world does not forget my daughter, my lovely Abir.

But I will not seek vengeance. No, I will continue the work I have undertaken with my Israeli brothers. I will fight with all I have within me to see that Abir’s name, Abir’s blood, becomes the bridge that finally closes the gap between us, the bridge that allows Israelis and Palestinians to finally, inshallah, live in peace.

If I could tell my daughter anything, I would make her that promise. And I would tell her that I love her very, very much.

An update: this past February, members of Combatants for Peace held a memorial service for Abir and dedicated Abir’s Garden – a playground at the Anata School for Girls. The project is being sponsored by the Rebuilding Alliance, an NGO that rebuilds homes and communities in areas of war and occupation.

At the the Abir’s Garden website, you can find out how to donate olive and fruit trees and paving stones for the playground. There is also information on how you can advocate for justice in the case of Abir’s killing, which has been officially closed by the Israeli authorities.

Of this latest effort, Bassam writes the following:

I’m not going to lose my common sense, my direction, only because I’ve lost my heart, my child. I will do all I can to protect her friends, both Palestinian and Israeli. They are all our children.

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