Wednesday, November 22, 2023

A day in the life of an absurdly segregated land

Nathan Thrall, a journalist, has recently published the book “A Day in the Life of Abed Salama,” almost coinciding with the brutal attack of Hamas in Southern Israel and the war in Gaza. Although the events in the book take place in the West Bank, it is difficult to think of a better descritpion of the context of the Israel/Palestine conflict.

“Thrall’s book owes its title to a man he now regards as a friend: Abed Salama, who lives in Anata, a town in the West Bank near Jerusalem that is almost encircled by the Israeli separation barrier. In 2012, Salama’s five-year-old son Milad was killed, the bus on which he was travelling for a school trip having crashed. In his book, Thrall describes the many iniquities Salama must, as a Palestinian, endure in the hours and days following the accident, beginning with the impossibility of travelling to the hospital in which Milad might be lying.”

(You can read the above paragraph in an Interview with the author in The Observer)

In his book, Thrall describes the reality of segregation, which is ultimately the underlying cause of the bus accident that killed Abed Salama's son. Because of the segregation wall and the meticulous system that separates two communities, for example, it takes hours to cross less than 9 miles. Necessary emergency services are uncoordinated and inoperative. The book reveals the huge human costs of preserving a modern state just as a club for a privileged ethinicity, when it coexists with another discriminated community in the same land.

The book also describes the hate reaction in Facebook: how some young people reacted with joy in the social media to the death of Palestinian children after the bus accident.

Thrall, one of the many Jewish that criticize the government of Israel and the discrimination of Palestinians, dedicates the book to his children: “Our three daughters… have grown up in Jerusalem, just over the wall that segregates them from the children in this book. Although that segregation seems unlikely to end in my lifetime, I wrote the book in the hope that it can be dismantled in theirs.”


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