How can you look yourself in the mirror
I am not the monster you think me to be.
You want to know what I see, when I look in the mirror.
I see a boy of fifteen years. Just hanging around on the outskirts of the refugee camp.
My friend you need to forget images of tents and shanties. Concrete boxes stacked up. Each measuring 24 foot by 15. One per family. In ours there was My Father, Mother, Grandmother, older Brother, younger brother, my new baby sister and myself.
It was the first time I had seen that many soldiers. I was too young to remember when they took our house. My mother and sister had been raped. They killed my sister. My family fled. All I could remember was the camp.
Ah yes, the soldiers. The road was full. Tanks, Armoured bulldozers, jeeps, troop carriers…. the road was painted khaki as far as the eye could see. They came… the soldiers pointed guns at those lucky enough to be outside. They said not a word, but we knew to be still. The bulldozers just flattened our homes. They weren't much… Still, it was home. I realized, my grandmother and baby sister were still inside. The same realization had come to those whose relatives were also still inside the buildings. A few people stuck their heads out looking for a means to escape. They were shot instantly.
Suddenly a large group, burst from the building. Mostly teenage boys, they charged towards the tanks and bulldozers, armed with homemade slingshots. Hoping, in vain to delay the onslaught. Just long enough to let others escape. The sons of Goliath armed with stones against the children of David's armour plated leviathan. It was instant carnage. It was few who managed to make their escape. Most of those shot were not dead, but bleeding, maimed and left to die. The bulldozers buried those who were not gunned down in flight.
In amongst the wounded…. I could hear my brother screaming. I remember running, trying to get to my brother, people were holding me back. Other's, grief-stricken also, were trying to get to their wounded, dying loved ones. The crowd held them back. A few broke through and were instantly mown down. Those who survived were thrown onto the pile of bleeding, dying terrified men, women and children. The last thing I remembered was a soldier's rifle butt in my face.
The next night I returned I could hear many still groaning, faintly, close to death. I could hear my brother; I could hear his pain and terror in amongst all the others. I could see outlines, silhouettes of the snipers.
That's right my friend, they had posted snipers to gun down any who tried to get to their injured relatives.
I managed to make my way to my brother's side, slowly, quietly, hiding amongst the dead and the dying. I had brought him some water and a little bread. He begged me to kill him, but I could not, I left. I have no other shame greater. I could not kill my brother; I could not end his suffering. I can still hear their moaning and pleas for a merciful death.
I see a man of 25 years, burying his father. His face streaked with tears, sweat and dirt. His father's only crime had been to draw water from the well during dry season.
No my friend it was not just an overreaction. The well is for the dry season. We have always had enough water, until they came. Look beyond their walls and their razor wire beyond the gun turrets. They have sprinklers for their lawns; they are growing tomatoes in the desert. That water comes from under our feet, but we are not allowed to touch a drop without permission. When the water runs particularly low they bring in tankers. Every now and again they send a tanker to the villages and the refugee camps. The world media show's how generous they are and that without them, we would die of thirst. When we point out the injustice, we are just being ungrateful.
I see a man of 30, a proud man. A man who has overcome all odds. A man who has raised and borrowed sufficient money. Enough to buy him, a part share in an olive grove. It was not much but it meant my children would have a better future than I… I worked hard on that farm, the whole family did. At harvest season, the extended families of all those who owned a share came to get the work done. That was when the soldiers came. Many were killed, they bulldozed our olive grove. All that love and hard work…. The few who survived were left without income, most of their family dead. Most of us were in debt. The loans we had got to see us through to harvest could now not be paid. I lost my son, my wife and my daughter…
You will have to excuse me a moment my friend.
It's not that I had never seen a grown man cry before. I had known grief. It was only then, that it paled in comparison. I no longer had a clear sense of why I had gone there. Could I still kill him?
I'm sorry my friend, But now surely you must be able to see why. Everything I have ever had of any true worth has been taken away from me by the soldiers. So that those who sit comfortably in their suburban housing. Behind their razor wire and gun turrets have room to expand their garrison of Eden.
He opened his jacket to reveal the suicide vest I knew to be there.
All that is left is for me to get as close to the checkpoint and its soldiers as I can.
Why? Because I no longer have a choice…
He stared at the ceiling… Seemingly lost in a temporary silence. Which he then broke with a short burst of laughter …
ALLAH AKBAR! … I used to believe god was great. If he is so great why has he allowed so many to suffer. How can he allow such horror wrought by one of his peoples over another?
No my friend. I do not do this because I believe I will go to heaven. I no longer believe in such concepts. The religious extremists are the only ones still able to obtain the means to fight back. There is no one else. If it means I can end my suffering and bring forward the time when my people will be free, then it is what I must. Or so I thought.
Why did I think it would help? I believed if we could just kill enough of their families, their children, that maybe then they would begin to understand. Understand the suffering they are causing. I thought if they suffered also, that it may open their eyes. Now I realize that their suffering will be used to justify more attacks on my people. It will bring more tanks, bulldozers and armed settlers.
Because my friend, I no longer have any choice! If I could find a way out I would. I do not want anyone else to suffer. A van with gunmen will turn up in the next hour. They will take me close to my target. Then watch if I don't do as they say, they will shoot. This would detonate the bomb. It is booby-trapped so I cannot remove it and it has a timer so I cannot make a run for it. I do not want to be killed in an explosion. More importantly, I don't want anyone else to be hurt by my actions.
I didn't know what I had expected to find. Certainly not a gentle and kind human being. Not someone so caring and thoughtful. I had expected some kind of monster. Somebody I would have killed in a heartbeat. Why? Well I guess you're entitled to know…
My daughter was on holiday in Tel Aviv, she was killed by a suicide bomber. I went there to find out what kind of a sick monster would do such a thing. Straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak. I wanted to make that son of a bitch take a long, hard look in the mirror. Recognize the monster he truly was. Then I was gonna gun that mother fucker down. I felt dreadful, for the past ten years I had been seething with hatred and vengeance. I had been financing the murder of these people. I truly believed them to be extremist scum, who would stop at nothing to destroy the Jewish race. Instead I find people struggling to survive. People who keep getting back up, only to be kicked back down and shat on, again and again. Kind people, compassionate people. I was the one who needed to take a long, hard look in the mirror. How could I have killed this man, he had suffered more than I could have thought possible.
I know you came here with the intention of killing me my friend. I hope you will not remember me as a monster.
"I cannot kill you. You are not a monster." But I had become one without even realizing. I dropped my gun.
You have to kill me; innocent people are going to die. The cycle will just carry on and on.
I heard the sound of a vehicle approaching. The gun men! The one's who have used this poor man's grief to further their own twisted, fucked up agenda. I picked up my gun and told Abdul what I was thinking.
No my friend, the men who are coming are no different to myself. Their grief has been used against them by those who claim to follow the Prophet. They do not deserve to die.
You must take me outside and shoot me from a safe distance. Please my friend I beg you.
I could not. Faced with such a dilemma and the van getting closer…. I ran. The two armed men led him to the van; it still wasn't too late to help. Was it?
I could have got to the check point first, alerted the soldiers. I followed the van. As soon as we had left the village and were out in the desert. The back doors of the van flew open. Abdul leapt from the moving van before the gunmen could react. I could not be sure if I heard him shout Allah Akbar before the vest exploded. Maybe I just wanted to believe, he had made his way to his heaven for doing the right thing. Maybe I was just kidding myself. The van sped off as soon as the vest blew. I screeched to a halt. The blast had not been what I was expecting. Abdul was still alive…barely. I had never seen a human being in such a mess. He begged me for a quick, merciful death. I held him in my arms. My tears were flowing freely as I put my gun to his head. I killed the first person I had ever cared about since Katie's death.
Now I'm waiting on death row in an Israeli jail for aiding an attempted suicide bomber. I have no faith in my countries diplomatic wrangling, in an attempt to bring me home. Their efforts are half-hearted to say the least. I look in the mirror and see a man who was once a monster. A man driven by grief… driven to do something horrendous. A man who has seen light. Just in time to do the right thing, before it was too late. I just hope Abdul had the chance to do the same in those moments before his death.