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Ahlam And Nezar, A Palestinian Couple Released In The Prisoner Exchange

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Two young Palestinians, Ahlam (left) and Nezar (right) Tammimi, were among the 477 Palestinian prisoners released from Israeli prisons, October 18.

They were in the first contingent of what is supposed to become more than 1,000 Palestinians released in an exchange for Israeli Sergeant Gilad Shalit.

The Western media covered the exchange as a story about the lone Israeli soldier involved. Television captured the dramatic scenes of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greeting the young man who had spent five years in an Hamas prison.

The Western public saw and read virtually nothing about the 477 Palestinians who were released from Israeli prisons, except for those stories that reminded the public that many of the prisoners, to use the term so popular among Israeli politicians, had "blood on their hands."

This bias against Palestinians was so blatant that Jewish activist Noam Chomsky was moved to accuse the media of treating the released Palestinian prisoners as "unpeople."

It is time to tell their stories, and to do so without apology.

Western media, taking its lead from the Israeli media, was eager to point out that many of the prisoners were involved in acts that led to the deaths of Israelis. True enough, but it must also be pointed out that when Shalit was captured, he was part of an army which had been killing Palestinian for decades, both civilians and militants.

Shalit was fully armed on patrol with two other IDF soldiers, moving along the Gaza-Israel border. In addition, during the five years Shalit has been in prison, the Israeli Air Force has continued its attacks on Gaza, resulting in many Palestinian civilian deaths.

However one-sided this struggle has always been, it is still a war between the fourth largest military force in the world, and an occupied population, some of whom employ military tactics to resist that occupation.

This brings us to Ahlam and Nezar, two Palestinian prisoners who had known each other briefly before both were imprisoned. They are members of a large, extended Tammimi family.

They had both attended Birzeit University, at different times. As prisoners in separate Israeli jails, they connected again through a correspondence that traveled a circuitous route to the village of each of their parents, and then back to the Israeli prisons where they were incarcerated.

The picture above, from The Media Line's Mid East News Source, is clearly a composite.

It was through their correspondence that Ahlam and Nezar determined they were in love. Ahlam tells the story of their courtship:

"Each letter would take a month to reach Nezar and another month [for me] to get his response back. I would place the letter in the mail and send it to my family. My family would send it to Nezar's family. Nezar's family would send it to him. ... Nezar would go through the same process to send me a letter. Our letters were so precious, they took so much time and they were our only means of communication.

"We would share experiences, express our love and share our virtual dreams of being and living together after our marriage. After exchanging letters and falling in love we both decided to get engaged even if we were both jailed for life."

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James Wall is currently a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Many sources have influenced Jim's writings over (more...)
 
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