Haj Sami Sadeq is a mayor in Palestine. Behind him is the Jordan Valley. Around him are the lands of his little village, Al Aqaba.
The entire village is under Israeli demolition orders. In fact, the Israeli army bulldozed the road to his village on Sept. 15, 2 weeks before I shot this picture. They want his lands. And they seem to be cutting his village off from the rest of the world.
Despite the fact that Haj Sami is in a wheelchair because he was crippled by the Israeli army when he was 16 years old and just walking on his family lands, despite the fact that the people of Al Aqaba village are not allowed to drill for water on their own land and they have been slowly leaving this starved village-- their mayor believes in peace. Here is the mural on the wall of his school. Inside the school these days is an American volunteer, Morgan Bach, 24, below, teaching kindergartners the ABC's.
Morgan Bach is not just in Al Aqaba to teach-- but to make sure that the Israeli army doesn't tear the village off the map. The Rebuilding Alliance paid Morgan's airfare, but nothing more. The village feeds her.
And this brave young woman, who not long ago was living in a sorority house in Walla Walla, stays in Al Aqaba to protect the village-- something no international government body is willing to do for Haj Sami or his people.I've been a journalist all my life. I think this is a pretty good story.
But below is a video I shot of Haj Sami the night I stayed in his village. He had just given me dinner. Then I asked him how much media attention he's gotten. Highlights: At :48 he tells where all the media have come from. At 2:55-4:00 he tells about his visit to the U.S. in 2008, and people don't even know where Palestine is. I wonder why...Update: There's a campaign to raise money for Al Aqaba right now, at Rebuilding Alliance's website. Can you help out?