Shaden Abu Hijleh
What a lovely face, don’t you think? Shaden Abu Hijleh was a philanthropist and democracy activist in Nablus, married to a leading surgeon.
And then on the evening of October 11, 2002, Shaden was sitting outside her front door, doing embroidery and talking with her husband and son, when an Israeli patrol stopped outside the house and shot and killed her, and injured the other members of her family.
It was the Second Intifada. Shaden was 61 years old. Here is her memorial website, maintained by her son, Saed Abu Hijleh, whose arms she died in.
I met Saed Abu Hijleh in late September in Nablus. He’s a poet and lecturer on political geography, and he brought me to his mother’s grave, where I made this video. The video lasts 31 minutes. Here are the highlights:
First three minutes: 1200 Nabulsis were killed during the 2nd intifada. They are considered martyrs because they resisted occupation, often by nonviolent means.
3:48. Description of his mother’s two cousins’ deaths.
4:15. Description of his mother’s killing “without any provocation”, apparently for sitting outside her house just before curfew. You can see where Shaden was sitting in this other video, here.
10:10. An internal investigation by the Israelis results in slaps on the wrist of an officer and soldier involved in the killing. Abu Hijleh does not know these men’s names.
12:18. We are resisting a “brutal occupation,” that is why Shaden was killed. It is an apartheid system that uses human rights violations to seek to create submission.
13:44. Description of the deaths of youths who threw stones at soldiers.
14:10. A high point of the interview. I ask Abu Hijleh why he does not submit and try and lead a normal life. He tells me that his spirit simply could not accept the occupation and that from the time he was a boy he resisted it, and was nearly killed, and repeatedly imprisoned, before his father shipped him off to get an education. “I went through the whole spectrum of Israeli oppression… this endless crime has to end.”
18:01. Abu Hijleh says that justice means one state, with the right of return.
20:00. His analysis of why Zionism is a losing project that is fueling anti-Jewish feeling, and that destroyed the Jewish fabric of life throughout the Arab world.
22. Arafat’s 1974 vision of a secular democratic society is what all should struggle for.
24. Yes Palestinians have to articulate a vision for the future. “But why always the victim has to articulate the right vision?… Why all the pressure is on the victim, when the oppression is so obvious? Why does the victim have to explain the oppression. You ask the victim of a rape to explain the rape?… [Why do Palestinians in international fora have] to explain how brutal and painful the rape is so that someone will stop the rapist? Where are we? We’re in 2011.”
28: A description of the storied history of Nablus
Thanks to Gilbert Carlson, an American volunteer, who appears at the periphery of the camera, and who introduced me to Saed Abu Hijleh.