Print

Page 3 of 4

image Click for more images

“I was alone,” says Mrs. Saadeh. “But I didn’t lose my mind. I was touching Christine’s face and hands at the funeral.”

For years afterward, the family struggled to cope with the loss.

“I slept in her bed every night,” Najwa says. “I set her plate at the table every night. I made her a sandwich for her school lunch every day for seven years and asked Marian to give it to a poor student who did not have food.”

Marian, Christine’s older sister, was in tenth grade when the attack happened. She suffered greatly, her mother says, but refuses to speak about it.

Now 29, Marian is a clinical psychologist and works as a counselor at St. Joseph’s School after having graduated from Bethlehem University.

“She has lost her faith,” Marian’s mother says, “but she will get it back in time.”

Mrs. Saadeh understands this turn all too well: “I questioned my own faith.

“I blamed Jesus so many times that this would happen. But after four years I asked for forgiveness. I look to Jesus to hold my sadness as I am holding his cross since Christine’s death. I pray to the Holy Mother: ‘You endured the same pain I do now; so, I need your help.’

“I always have their help,” she adds.

Now, 14 years later, Najwa Saadeh still suffers from stomach problems, sleep deprivation and panic attacks.

The Israeli military has admitted its error, claiming it was targeting several wanted men, and apologized.

The emotions still raw, Mrs. Saadeh has little use for such an apology. “We are not dogs. We are not animals. We are human beings.”

A month after Christine’s death, George Saadeh received a call from a group hoping to meet with him at a gathering in Beit Jala.

The Parents Circle Families Forum, a joint Palestinian-Israeli organization of more than 600 families, includes men and women dealing with tragedy and loss, and encourages its members to share their stories, to listen and to offer support.

The group is committed to peace and justice, and an end to the military occupation of the West Bank. Its members all have lost family members as a result of the conflict, and now look for ways to create dialogue with a long-term aim of reconciliation.

“It’s not easy for us telling our stories all the time,” says Mr. Saadeh. “The politicians don’t like it. On both sides, they say you are crazy speaking about peace — ‘look at what is going on.’ ”

Some family members and friends have likewise been critical.

“My Palestinian friends and some family were not understanding toward my work in The Parents Circle with Jewish families,” says Mrs. Saadeh.

At a recent meeting, a group of Germans from Pax Christi International, a Catholic international peace movement, met in Bethlehem in the basement of a local hotel.

The 15 members of The Parents Circle sat in a circle and listened as George Saadeh recounted his story about Christine.

Robi Damelin, who came to Israel in 1967 from South Africa, where she was an anti-apartheid activist, spoke next.

Post a Comment | Comments(0)

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |