It is with a heavy heart that I report here of the passing of Dr. Eyad el-Sarraj. His loss is a blow to all of us, and most of all to the
Palestinians living in Gaza.
Dr. el-Sarraj did groundbreaking work on the long term traumatic effects of occupation. Yet he never wavered in his belief that Israelis and Palestinians could live together in a brighter future.
Here is how he described the occupation:
“Among other thing, it means:
- an identity number and permit to live as a resident which will be lost if one leaves the country for more than three months;
- a traveling document which specifies that the holder is of an undefined nationality;
- being called twice a year by intelligence for routing investigation and persuasion to work as an informer on “your brothers and sister,”
- leaving your home in the refugee camp in Gaza at 3 a.m.,going through road-blocks and checkpoints to do the work that others won’t and returning home in the evening to collapse in bed for few hours before getting up for the following day;
- losing repect from one own children when they see their father spat at and beaten before their own eyes;
- seeing the (name of the) Prophet being spat on by Israeli settlers in Hebron.
We were exhausted, tormented and brutalized.”
Dr. el-Sarraj was committed to non-violence, despite his unwavering criticism and documentation of the abuses and horrifying effects of the occuaption. Though he never wavered in his criticism of the occupation and identifying it as the root of so much hardship, he was also able to maintain his vision of Israelis as not evil, but flawed humans like everyone else. In the midst of Israel’s devastating onslaught on Gaza in Operation Cast Lead of 2008-09, he wrote: “
Brute force and carnage in Gaza on the scale of today is a dangerous omen. Israel must restrain its military might and face up to the consequences of dragging the region into such a serious and intensified path of violence. Palestinians must stop all forms of violence and unite in the pursuit of peace and justice.”
Dr. el-Sarraj will be sorely missed. When there are more like him throughout Israel as well as Palestine, there will be real hope.