The Daily Life of Kawther Salam

  ..: Hell Made in Israel - July 2002 :..
June, 2004

* * *   PAGE IN WORK   * * *

J u l y   2 0 0 2

  Go To:
 1 July 2002
 2 July 2002

 15 July 2002
 16 July 2002
 17 July 2002
 18 July 2002
 19 July 2002
 20, July 2002
 21 July 2002
 22 July 2002
 23, July 2002
 24, July 2002
 25 July 2002

1 July 2002

I called my Israeli friends for assistance.
I don't have any more money.
I can't survive in Israel.
I'm classified as an illegal refugee!
I can't return home to Hebron. All the ways home are closed. Today, I prepared my self to return.
I arrived Jerusalem, but there was no transportation to Hebron or to the other cities in the West Bank.
I found another woman with a 10 year old child. She was in the train station inquiring about information about returning to Hebron. The drivers said, “The only way is to take  no.11!" The woman was very simple.  She asked where she could find this number. The drivers said, “If you can't find this number, you should walk on foot from Itzyon to Hebron and walk through the villages.  This is the no. 11 we mean!”

The woman was crying. She spent a couple of days staying with people she didn't know before. She said, “I went to Jordan by the Israeli bridge for medical treatment purposes. However, when I arrived at the Jordanian bridge, they asked me about an access permit from the Jordanian Interior Ministry. I told them I hadn’t heard about this before. They said, "We are sorry, but we don't have your name here on the list of the passengers.” The woman continued crying. She said that since she had returned from the bridge she didn’t know how to find her way back to Hebron, All the streets were closed.  All the roads blocked and all the mountains occupied by war tanks.

The woman asked me if it possible to join her walking on foot through the villages to Hebron.  When I told her it wouldl take us two weeks to walk to Hebron, she asked me, “So what shall we do?” I could only answer, “Just to be patient, unless you want to die.”

I prepared my self for the trip with the money I have have recently saved. I had saved 50 shekels. I walked with an umbrella to shield me from the sun on my return to my friend Dina. I accessed all the Israeli check points spread between East of Jerusalem and West of Jerusalem and no one stopped me. I said to my self, "So I must look like all a human being. I don't have a long tail. I'm walking on two legs, so the police can't identify me as a Palestinian.”

I continued talking to my self in the street until I arrived at the Tel-Aviv Transit.  I sat alone.  I drank some water.   I remembered that Dina Lee had prepared a sandwich for me in the morning. I found it in my bag. I said, “OK, I'm a human being and I should eat some thing. Maybe I don't feel hungry, but it's the necessity to eat.”  Dina used to say this said this all the time. I was eating and thinking. It's not easy to be identified as a Palestininian in Israel. I look like the Israelis.  I look like a human being.  No one can even see that I'm not Israeli. I can identify myself as a human being, while I am not really feeling like a human being.  The occupation has killed our human feelings, killed our hope our ??. (dreams). I asked myself  “What would happen if the passengers on the transit could read my thoughts, knew who I was and how I feel in midst of them.”

2, July 2002

I started my day this morning at 10 AM.  I met with my fiend, a TV researcher named Tali. We went to a small cafe to have a drink.  She reminded me of when we were working together in Hebron and how a Jewish settler with a long beard, stopped his car in the middle of Al-Shuhada street.  He tried to kidnap us right in front of IDF soldiers!

“Oh, Tali, it was a bad memory! Why did you remind me of this?”

We talked together about my financial situation. I need a travel permit to access Ben Gurion Airport. We talked about the political situation and how we could help find a solution.

I said, "We need to open a ‘Human Rights University’ to teach our people of the Human Rights Culture. This is the only solution to our problems." However, it will take us a long time unless we build this University now. Yes, I don't have much money, just 50 shekels. To start this project, I will need an Israeli permit too. Maybe it will take me the rest of my life to fight for this project and I may be unsuccessful at the end. No, no, I should fight for a travel permit to leave this area. If I return, I will fight for my new project, ‘the Human Rights University.’ Yes, it took me a long time to request a travel permit from the Israelis to grant me access to Ben Gurion Airport, and I still waiting. So, maybe I should find a solution for our ‘political’ problem first. Then, with a travel permit I could access Ben Gurion Airport.  Yes, Tali I have an idea how to do this.”‘

Tali said, "Yes please, go head and help us, Kawther.”

I said, “We should have one State here. This area is very small for two States. We must have a civilized and developed State with mixed culture and people similar to the US. We must run elections and have people vote. We must decide who will be the President of this State, Kawther or Tali? I don't care if Tali, Sharon or Arafat were the winner in this election. I would not be sad if it were a Jewish State with a mixed population of Palestinians and Jews just as long as we vote and decide our future in a democratic way, far away from this bloody war. We have enough land for every body to live. We don't need to kill each other. Yes, Tali, enough is enough. I hate the WAR. I hate them killing our innocent people for political reasons. We must vote right now and decide. Then we can lead all the Middle East. We can lead all the Arab countries and the Middle East economy. We will become strong. Yes Tali, we will have one State, one law.  We will all have the same rights.  We will put an end of the occupation.  This is the only just solution Tali.”

Tali said, “You are optimistic," Kawther.

I asked, “Why should we just survive, dear. It's not just to force the Jews to live in a closed ghetto. It's not just to force Palestinians to live in another ghetto. It's not just to have a State with one only one culture. Why don't we live like all the people in Europe and the US? I'm just trying to find a solution for this complicated political conflict without people killing each other. We must respect our humanity, our blood, and our creations. I'm just trying to find a lasting solution for this area. It can be one democratic state with different colors. Then you can live in Hebron, and I can live in Tel-Aviv without problems. It will be my decision and only my decision.“

Tali said, “Yes, this is the only option have in order to survive. I agree with you Kawther.”

”So, what's the problem now, my dear Tali?

”It's your permit to access Ben Gurion airport, Kawther.  Then we will build a State like this.”

So, how we can help your government to grant me this permit, Tali?

”It's a complicated problem in this ‘civilized and democratic’ country, the State of Israel.”  We must ask Shas for help, Kawther.”

”This is the only option.” The extreme people lead my government today. We are obliged to deal with them. There is no need to fall in love with them. Yes, for sure I don't like them.  But we need to respect each other, Kawther.”

“Yes, yes, please Tali, let us try this soon.”

”But do you think that there is somebody in Israel who still has a human heart and mind?”

”All I know is that I need to get out of this situation.

“I can't survive any more here! I can't survive in the middle of the occupation!

I can't survive and live with the IDF soldiers!

I can't see the blood any more. I'm scared of death and killing!

I can't survive living illegally in Israel!

I can't live without money here!

I can't live in the middle of this ‘traditional men’s society’ in the West Bank!

I can't give up!

I can't return!

I must leave. I must obtain an access permit. This is what I need. Tali, do you think I have a big enough problem?!”

Monday, 15, July 2002

I Sent Colonel Amnon Cohen a final request to grant me a travel permit to access through Ben Gurion Airport.  I know Colonel Cohen well, and he also knows me well.  I don't have any problem with him as an Israeli.  As a journalist, though, I do not have a good relationship with him.  He represents the Israeli government.   I represent the voices of Palestinians in the media.  I used to criticize him and it has caused me many problems.   However, this is the only problem I have with Israeli officers.

Colonel Cohen is similar to governmental officers.  They don't like journalists.  Journalists cause problems for everybody.  I know what I did to these officers.  As much as I caused problems for them, they branded me “the face of evil” and the “trouble maker.”

Despite these circumstances, I never found it difficult to talk or to pass a message to him and his officers through my work in the newspaper.  Often, he considered the human stories I reported and tried to help as much as he could.

In 2000, Colonel Cohen helped to solve a problem for a woman named Halemeh Al-Adrahs.  Halemeh suffered from cancer; she faced death every moment.  Her only dream was to see her son Omar before she passed on.

Her son, Omar Al Adrarah had been labeled "Menoah Shabak" for many years.  He was prohibited to return home in Beny Neam, a district of Hebron after he lost the right to renew his permit to return during 1997.  He was a member of the Palestinian opposition movement, the "Popular Committee" in Jordan.  He did not have a Palestinian ID either.

When I heard about the story, I visited his mother’s home.  She was dying of cancer and living in wretched poverty as well.  The woman was lying on an old mattress on the floor.  Her room was very small and dark without windows.  It was built of soil and straw.  Wherever I turned my face, I saw the marks of poverty.

I tried to find one small space to sit on the floor and speak to her.  The floor was full of dust, garbage and flies.   It was very difficult to speak to her while sitting on the floor, but I had to do it that way.

I heard a weak and painful voice with tear eyes.

 The woman repeated one word  "Omar", Omar....

I asked her to speak with me.  She collected her breath, looked at me, and tried to speak so that I could hear her words.

Actually, it was a painful story that deeply moved me.  I called Colonel Amnon Cohen and told him the full story.  He also was moved and promised to help by granting Omar a 3-month permit to visit to his mother if I promised to send Omar back to Jordan.

I gave Cohen my word to send Omar back to Jordan after visiting his mother.  Omar arrived at the Alembi Bridge holding his permit and dreaming to see his mother before her death.  However, Shabak had signed his permit and passport with the words "Prohibited Entry.”

Omar was sent back to Jordan.  His family called me, and I called Colonel Cohen.  I was very angry about what had happened. Colonel Cohen wasn't happy either!  He told me to call Omar and ask him to come back again to Alembi Bridge with his permit and passport.

After visiting his mother, Omar had unexpected problems returning to Jordan.   Thankfully, Colonel Cohen assisted Omar in return to Jordan.  I wondered how it was that the Jordanians would not allow Omar to return to Jordan, but that Shabak would.  It was a miracle.  Omar was allowed to access the bridge with the respect he deserved.

Tuesday, 16 July 2002

Someone in the office of Colonel Amnon Cohen hung up the telephone after I identified myself!  All the offices are responding to Palestinian requests in the same manner.

General Amos Gila'ad has never allowed me to talk with General Assistant Aviv who had previously received my permit request. 

The secretary always repeats the same response, "Aviv is not here, Aviv is in a meeting.  Call after one hour, call after two hours, or call him tomorrow."

For one month I have received this same answer!  This is the only response offered by the Office of the Coordinating Activists!   Apparently, this is the only coordinating they do all day long-delaying and postponing!

17th July 2002

The children from Ohio painting stones in support of Kawther

I am very happy to have discovered some American children coloring stony hearts that they found on the beach.  They are similar to the ones I found on an Israeli beach.

I forgot all my pain seeing these angelic faces coloring the hearts and writing for me to be well.

Even the children they feel what I feel.  A special thank you to all of these lovely children who sent me this wonderful massage.  Give all of them a big kiss and hug.

Let us all work together to bring peace for our people.  Let you change the American future toward the Middle East, my lovely children.  I love you.

Thursday, 18 July 2002

Today, I passed by General Amos Gila'ad's house in Herzelia, which is called "the green area."
Mr. Jacob Tevet accompanied me.  We went by his house on the way to see Dr. G. Radushkevitz, at 23 Katzenelson St., Givataim.  He is a surgeon who is also an ear and throat specialist at the Clinic.

Mr. Tevet provided me with transportation to the Clinic.  He took me from my friend’s home in Herzelia to Givataim.  It wasn't easy to find the Clinic’s address.  Driving in the middle of rush hour, we mistakenly went to Kfar Saba Givataim.  Mr. Tevet’s driving error delayed us one hour in the rush hour traffic.

Mr. Tevet was strangely silent on our return back from the Clinic.  I asked him to tell me what he was thinking.  He related a disturbing story that had happened to him when he tried to assist someone.  It was a terrible story of a foreign worker’s plight in Israel.  Israel is using foreign workers for cheap labor.  It's not enough that Israeli law does not protect these workers.   At the same time that these racist Israelis are exploiting these people, they are also accusing them of running away while owing the Israeli government money.

Israel is the state of injustice!
Israel is a racist state always!

I met Dr. Radushkevitz.  He was very nice.  He asked me where I was from.

I said, "Hebron."

He advised me to take a hearing test.  He also said that I should visit a specialist.  I cried all the way back to my house.  Mr. Tevet kept silent.  He understood my feelings.  I said many things, but he had no comment.

Mr. Tevet was an employee in a Vienna embassy mission before he retired.  Now, he is a peace activist from Ta'ayosh an Arab-Israeli organization.

When I arrived home, my small white cat Menosh and my dog Zahav were waiting for me.  They provided me with a measure of relief.

Friday, 19 July 2002

I'm counting the sky stars, hoping to see him.
Talking to the birds flying, hopefully to meet him.
Asking the sea waves and the zephyrs hopefully to speak to him.
Irrigating the flowers, hopefully to smell him.
Day and nights are the same.
The hour hand passes slowly.
I'm waiting and waiting.

They are killing my hope.
They are killing my dreams.
They are killing my feeling.
They are killing humanity.
They are killing and killing.
But tomorrow is coming.

Tomorrow should coming.
Tomorrow I'll dance and sing.
I'll smile and laugh.
Drink and drink.
Kiss and hug.
Fly and love...
Tomorrow I'll meet him.
I'll get my Freedom!

Freedom to live...
Freedom to love.
Freedom to talk.
Freedom to travel.
Freedom to have an ID.
Freedom and freedom and freedom.

I'm dreaming daily.
Dreaming and dreaming.
But I just woke up...!

Saturday, 20, July 2002

The chocolate is coming!
They have denied me from traveling to Europe, but they can't prevent me receiving chocolate from Europe.

The Israeli postman delivered the chocolate to my illegal temporary residence in Tel Aviv.
I'm identified as  "Menoah Shabak" but I can receive items from Europe!
I can eat European Chocolate.

I'm identified as "Menoah Shabak,” but I can exchange e-mails with all over the World!
To exchange feelings.
Political stories and interviews.
Love and pain.

But I'm forbidden to travel because I am "Menoah Shabak!”
It's a joke.
It's dictatorial.
This is Israel.
This is a democracy.
They are fearful to print my testimonies.
The human stories.
They love keep me out of the West Bank.
But in Israel.
Under their control.
Far away, watching the IDF soldiers.
Killing and arresting.
Shooting and raping human rights.
They love to isolate me in Israel.
Denying me to live normally in my home.
Denying me to practice my journalistic work.
They forbid me to travel.

”She is illegal in Israel.”
”She is "Menoah Shabak."
This is the occupation.

Sunday, 21 July 2002

Where did the Israeli officers study lying? Is there an Israeli University course that teaches lying? Why do government officials constantly lie? Does the Talmud and the Torah teach lying?  Lies and liars are killing me.  Hearing these lies causes me stress and pain. I was very upset when I asked General Amos Gila'ad where did they study lying?  So how are Israeli officers qualified to be liars? This morning I received a response from the Israeli embassy in Washington concerning my travel permit request by Mr. Polhamus, an American Church adviser.

July 18, 2002

Mr. Rick Polhamus
6585 New Hope Road
Fletcher, Ohio 45326

Dear Mr. Polhamus:

Mr. Barak has asked me to thank you for your letter of inquiry concerning the travel itinerary for Kawther Salaam.  As a result of the terrorism, transportation to Ben Gurion Airport from the territories has become very difficult.  It has been much easier for Palestinians to depart the territories through the Jordan River Bridge. Quite possibly Ms. Salaam could make use of this option.

Lynn Gefsky
Press Officer

I asked Mr. Ben in General Tzadaka's office about the embassy's letter.   I asked whether I would be allowed to travel through Jordan River Bridge or not.

Mr. Ben said, "No, you cannot, you are forbidden-Shabak"!

I told him that Mr. Shevi, the Israeli Civil Administration officer, told me that Shabak and the Mossad are not looking for me.  The story is a computer mistake, so I should be able to travel.

Mr. Ben said "No, that's not true, you cannot travel, you should ask General Gila'ad's office about that."

Mr. Ben was very angry when I told him that the problem was a computer error.

I asked him how many mistakes did they regularly commit when controlling Palestinians lives.

I had a long argument with Mr. Ben.

I shouted at him,  "It's not my responsibility to call Gila'ad's Office.  It is your duty.  You should call him.  I'm not working with the civil administration office!”

Ben made me very angry. I sent General Gila'ad my request with the Washington Israeli Embassy response. 
On the same paper I added just one question, "Please, where did you study lying?  Why you spread lies? Why you don't speak the truth? Why did you tell me that I'm forbidden to travel?  Then you told the journalists that I could use the Jordan River Bridge!

Another journalist from Germany described his speaking to the Civil Administration spokesperson, Mr. Peter Lerner. He said, “He is an Idiot."

Monday, 22 July 2002

Today I shouted at both spokespersons for the Generals Tzadaka and Gila'ad.  I informed them about my decision to access the Jordan River Bridge as a challenge to them. 
I said, "You have two options.  You can allow me to access the bridge or arrest me.  You cannot continue playing this dirty game.  You cannot determine my future.  You are terrible liars.  The Shabak is not looking for me.  You are afraid of my tongue, of my words as a journalist.  You cannot control me.   I'm spending 14 hours a day on a computer writing against Israel and against what you are doing.  If you are fearful about that, then you should stop the occupation.   I cannot live with your animal soldiers, those sons of  bitches.  Then you claimed that I'm residing illegally in Israel.  That's a cruel joke.  You are occupying my house and throwing me into the streets.  Then you claim that I am illegally in Israel.   I hate you, I hate the occupation.  Llet me leave this hell!"

Peter Lerner, Tzadaka's spokesperson shouted at me too. He said,” Are you threatening me, Kawther?

I responded,” What you said is not true, you did not speak the truth.   I merely placed the facts clearly in front of you.  You are holding me as a hostage because of a computer mistake and false rumors.

Peter said, "No, you have a security problem."
I said, “That's not true, I have a journalistic problem with your government and Daniel Seaman, that son of a bitch.  You want to rape my words.  Really, I don't care about any of you. I'm not a terrorist or a suicide bomber.  I'm a journalist, but you caused me lose my temper.”

I shouted at them to protect my rights.  I'm sure that I did not have any security problems with Israel.  It' was such a fabrication that I rudely told them off.  I left them like this. The other journalists were saying at the same moment, "She is in Jericho now, you cannot send her back. She going to access the bridge.”

The people in the General’s offices began asking each other,” She is in Jericho?”

I called them again.  This time I was polite.

I said, "Please. I delayed my travel over the bridge until Wednesday, 24 July, in order to give you more time to think about the problem and solve it without noise.  I know I'm not wanted and you will not arrest me. I'm sure about that. All what I want is to cross the bridge without problems and more damage to the Israeli government’s reputation."

I continued to call them each hour. The International Federation of Journalist sent a fax to the General’s offices also.  Then I spoke to Colonel Amnon Cohen, the head of the Civil Administration office in Hebron.

I felt something had changed. The secretary asked me to wait on the line. She said, "Amnon is on the line, please wait a second."

Amnon politely spoke to me.

Tuesday, 23, July 2002

Some world reactions:

"Hi, a little something against death threats. Just keep smiling."

A postcard with kind words and a box of Chocolate made me laugh and feel happy for a while.
It's kind of you.

”I'll be happy and strong to be with you.”

I wish that I could protect all of the Palestinians and the Israelis from Sharon’s death threats and killing.

Tuesday 23, July, 2002
From: Jordan Elgrably
Subject: Kawther, I sent this massage for you

Dear Kawther Salam,

I just learned about how the IDF is treating you and I am appalled through not surprised. They have been stooping lower and lower under Sharon who is the reason I have not returned to Israel in 20 years.  I am an Arab Jew and have been involved in journalism and coexistence activism for quiet some time.  My sites are...” 

I wish I could make the Israeli military stop, but I notice that they do not seem to care what progressive Jews are saying.  Perhaps you can get out of Hebron for a while and get some rest in the U.S.  Let me know if I can do anything to help.  I sent this massage to Reporters without Borders for you.

Best wishes, from L.A

Jordan Elgrably

Thanks for your offer to help me. But the occupation is killing any chance for help.

Wednesday, 24, July 2002

The small pieces of human bodies found under the houses were destroyed by Mr. Sharon and his Air Force with a 500-kilogram U.S missile.  This made me weep.

The blood and small pieces of their bodies were mixed with small pieces of bread and eggs.

The family, a mother and five kids were killed during their dinner. It was the last family dinner. Sharon and a U.S. missile killed the family, but left a small baby 9 months old alive. It's a miracle! The father held his crying child covered by blood in the middle of the rubble. This was a massacre engineered by Mr. Sharon.

It's a horrible massacre. I tried to collect my strength, but I couldn't. Sharon created all this blood, the shredded bodies, the stones, the black burned bodies, and the people crying with their threat of revenge.

It's a horrible nightmare!

Thursday, 25 July 2002

She wrote:

Dear Kawther,

Friday morning I was with a group of people who had breakfast with Rick Polhamus, and he told us about you.  Really, I admire what you are doing.  I am a professor of history at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio (I teach U.S. history, particularly U.S. women's history).

What can I do to help you?  We were thinking that maybe you need more publicity and contacts here in the U.S. in order to get permission to travel outside of Israel. I think that many feminist academics here in the States would be interested in your story and in assisting you. Perhaps you are already well connected with academics here, but if not, is there anything I can do to assist you? I would be happy to send your story out among the feminist academics I know. One of the people at the breakfast also thought that MS magazine might be interested in your story. Have you thought of contacting them? Or could we help you with that?

Anyway, Rick suggested I contact you and ask how I could be to help. So, just let me know.

Nancy Garner
Assoc. Prof. of History
History Department
Wright Stat University
Dayton, Ohio 45435
Home number: xxx xxx xxxx

Back to Overview
-> Home