It was 1AM of 14 December 2008 when I read the news that the Austrian President Dr. Heinz Fischer would visit my homeland Palestine, and the neighbouring, occupying country, Israel.
Painful tears fell down, I covered my eyes with hands, and I continued crying. The image of my old mother, my brothers, my sisters, my family and my homeland came before my eyes like a video tape. The yearning to see my mother besieges my feeling and my thoughts.
Six years and five months have passed since the Israeli occupation threw me out of my homeland. For six years and five months I have counted the days, the weeks, the months and the hours in the night. It is very difficult to forget your past, or to run away from your memories.
Who will compensate me for my suffering in the exile? Why should the Austrian government take responsibility for what the Israeli occupation did to me? Why should not Israel compensate my suffering, just like Europe, which still compensates the Jewish victims of the Holocaust? Are the Jews the only humans, and are their victims the devil? It is not fair to let the Israeli crimes be hidden behind their history. It is not fair to live the injustice in your history, and to do the same injustice to another nation. It is a crime to continue living without homeland, and identity.
The people in jail are allowed to see their families and relatives. I need a homeland and an ID. I woke up to the painful memories to find my tears washing over the keyboard of my computer. My tears strangle me, and my words stop in my throat. I was not able to say one word to my partner standing next to me, asking what happened.
Dr. Fischer, the President of Austria, was going to visit Palestine. I dreamed and wished that I accompanied him to see my mother. I want to see my mother; I want to see her before she dies. She is 85 years old. I want to see my family, this is one of my basic rights. I collected my broken feelings and strength, and I wrote a letter in German to the President of Austria, Dr. Heinz Fischer (here 60KB PDF).
Dear President Dr. Heinz Fischer
My name is Kawther Salam. I am a Palestinian journalist and human rights activist. I live as a refugee convention since 2002 in Vienna as a result of the campaign of genocide and ethnic cleansing of the state of Israel against the Palestinian in my hometown the city of Hebron. I love Vienna and I love the Austrian people, I declared my love by writing my book “Das ist Wien” and becoming a member of the socialist party, SPÖ. I also love my family in Palestine.
I miss my mother, my brothers and sisters. Since six years and 5 months I have not seen them. My mother is now 85 years old, and my brothers and sisters have their families in Palestine and they can not visit me in Vienna.
For me, it is not possible to travel to Palestine because my life would be in danger from both sides, the Israelis and the Palestinians. I have been exposing the crimes, the scandals and the violations of the Human Rights of the Israeli occupation and the Palestinian Authority through my journalistic work.
I have been exposing these crimes of both sides in various lectures at universities and radio broadcasts. I also post regularly my articles on the Internet.
I heard that your Excellency will travel soon to Palestine. For human considerations I ask you to allow me to join you in your trip to Palestine to see my mother under your full protection. I am worried that my mother will die before I have a chance see her again.
After my visit I would also like to return to Vienna, where my Austrian partner lives, and where law and human rights are respected. If you allow me, to travel with you, I promise that I will obey all of your instructions.
As a photographer I will be able to take care of photographing your journey to Palestine and Israel. If my request to join you the travel is too late, I ask politely to consider that you have me as a companion in your next trip to Palestine.
I finished writing my letter at 3 o’clock in the morning. I went to bed very late and destroyed, I was not able to sleep, I fought with my thoughts and tears in bed until I slept.
On Sunday morning, I woke up at 10AM, putting my clothes on and running to house of President Dr. Heinz Fischer to give my letter to the guard.
It is not difficult to reach the president house in Vienna, nobody harasses, stops or shoots you if you go to the house of the President of Austria. Such of criminal actions just happen in Israel and the other corrupted Arab countries, where the residents can not walk in the streets were their corrupt Presidents live.
President Dr. Heinz Fischer had already left and arrived in Israel on Saturday, and my letter waited in his office until his return on Wednesday Dec. 17, 2008.