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Jerusalem expert attacked: 'No rock can move me to hate'

Daniel Seidemann, one of the country’s top experts on the politics of Jerusalem and a longtime activist who founded the NGOs Ir Amim and Terrestrial Jerusalem, was struck by a rock thrown through his car window on Saturday. He was wounded in the back of his head, requiring stitches. Danny has many colleagues and friends who, like me, were terribly saddened by the incident. Being who he is, Danny himself had many things to say that are characteristically insightful and sensitive. With his permission, I am re-posting the texts he wrote for status updates on social media.

Saturday, November 23.

This afternoon, I paid a working visit to a friend in the Palestinian neighborhood of Sur Bahir, barely a kilometer from my home. When we took leave of one another, I headed home in my car. I had the misfortune of ending up in a traffic jam in the center of the village, just as school was getting out.

I didn’t see it coming, but should have: I was a sitting duck. The rock was probably thrown at point blank range; it smashed the side window with enough force to leave a deep gash in the back of my head. I was fortunate: I did not lose consciousness, nor my sense of orientation. Thankfully, the traffic jam loosened up a bit. Within a minute or so I was out of danger and on my way to get treatment.

This ended with a few stitches and no serious damage (confirmed by a CT).

I come away from this day with a few insights. In the wake of the incident, I encountered about a dozen people who had to hear my story, from the first-aid clinic, to the police, to the emergency room and neurology department at Hadassah Hospital. All were pleasant and empathetic. All but two of them asked the same question: “what the hell were you doing in Sur Bahir?” So much for the undivided capital of Israel, where a Jewish Israeli visiting a Palestinian friend less than a mile away is a source of astonishment.

The two primary physicians who took care of me didn’t ask that question, not because they’re physicians, but because they’re Palestinian. The guy who stitched me up is an East Jerusalemite who studied medicine in Cairo. The neurologist is a Palestinian citizen of Israel. They knew exactly what brought me to the hospital, and there was an unspoken bond that made the “what were you doing there” utterly ridiculous. They knew what I was doing there without my telling them, and responded accordingly.

This is the third time in the twenty two years that I’ve been out and around in the streets of East Jerusalem that I have been stoned, but only the first in which I was injured. There have been close calls before. I never expected immunity. I oppose violence and staunchly support non-violent resistance, but I feel no anger, just sad – the same kind of sadness I have felt often when two peoples poison their own and each others’ lives.

I can see my friends and “friends” on the right clucking their tongues, their gloating glands swelling. That too is sad. For me this changes nothing. After a day of bed rest, I will be back in East Jerusalem. Maybe my first visit to Sur Bahir will be a bit like a near-drowning victim returning to the water. But I will be back, and it won’t take weeks.

It’s been a long and difficult day. But all of it was in the Jerusalem I love, being the Israeli I love being, and with the Palestinians, some friends, some enemies, that no rock can move me to hate.

On Sunday, Danny updated his page with the following post:

Sunday, November 24.

A short while ago, a group of prominent residents of Sur Bahir paid me a visit, expressing regrets over the incident in which I has hit by a well-aimed rock. Most of them are friends, people I have known for years. Some I met for the first time. Their consternation was genuine.

They told me that they had gone today from classroom to classroom in the schools, telling these young men and women: “We don’t want to apprehend or reprimand anyone. But whoever did this: do you have any idea whose skull you bashed in? Only because of him you are sitting in this classroom, because he is the guy who got it built.”

These are people I know and respect, and their visit was very moving (baklawa anyone?).

But it was also very sad. Worse than sad – it was colonial.

The rock that hit me yesterday was not directed at me, personally. Most likely, it was hurled because I am an Israeli – the occupier. It’s also possible that it’s because I am a Jew, irrespective of the occupation. We will never know.

But the wonderful people who visited me today are living under occupation. My occupation. I deserve no special dispensation for my “good behavior.” They owe me no apologies. As long as the occupation exists, events like this will happen and no one is exempt from them.

I don’t romanticize the prick that cracked my head open. But I don’t find it particularly important if he is or is not apprehended. (OK – I do fear that he might have just been practicing on me, and that more deadly violence can be expected of him in the future).

But this ends not when Palestinians behave better, or when our Shin Bet becomes more efficient. It ends when occupation ends. Until then, I remain a symbol of that occupation, and not without reason. And no good deeds, as it were, will redeem me or protect me.

I think his words speak eloquently for themselves. There are two very gentle qualifications I would like to make, both reflecting an ideal vision that I am well aware might never be fulfilled in this bleak political reality, but I embrace them for guidance. First, I believe people should teach children not to commit violence against any civilian, including a perceived enemy – regardless of whether that person personally helped their cause as Danny has, or not. People, no matter what their CV or identity, must first of all be presumed innocent. Second, I have written in the past about the dangers of assuming, as Danny may be doing here that violence will end the moment the occupation does. It’s not realistic for either side, for nowhere in the world has violence ended. What matters is that we take his example: should there one day be a breakthrough to end the occupation, the inevitable episodic violence that will follow must not be allowed (or manipulated) to deter progress.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Richard Witty

      “I will not hate” in contrast to the game that haters agree to the rules and to the relationship, thereby making them co-conspirators.

      Reply to Comment
    2. OneStateSolution

      What a strong and courageous individual.

      Reply to Comment
    3. “the dangers of assuming, as Danny may be doing here that violence will end the moment the occupation does. It’s not realistic for either side, for nowhere in the world has violence ended. What matters is that we take [Danny's] example: should there one day be a breakthrough to end the occupation, the inevitable episodic violence that will follow must not be allowed (or manipulated) to deter progress.”

      I think this exactly right. I recall both Gandhi and King saying one’s first opponents include some of one’s own people; and, in any case, violence will always be with us; the hope is to remove its group centered correlations, overall.

      Without people like you, fewer would know of this event and Danny’s resolute response. Silence is an enemy of hope.

      Reply to Comment
    4. David

      What an idiot!

      Reply to Comment
    5. a Jerusalemite

      Comment deleted due to offensive content. Please read our comments policy. http://972mag.com/about/#comment

      Reply to Comment
    6. Kolumn9

      I will instead blame myself for the acts of random strangers. Logical. The dehumanization of both self as just a symbol of some group and the dehumanization of the other as being incapable of responsibility for their behavior. Reminds me of Robert Fisk’s little tour of Afghanistan.

      My favorite part is where his ‘friends’ tell the students that they don’t wish to apprehend or reprimand anyone and of course why would they reprimand anyone? After all throwing rocks and injuring a random Jew is commendable behavior so why should anyone be apprehended or reprimanded? Should someone kill our beloved Mr. Seidemann surely they deserve to be treated as a hero in the eyes of the Palestinian people and welcomed with a parade and high ranking jobs in the Palestinian Authority. Why then would injuring him be any less worthy of praise?

      Reply to Comment
      • This is what Daniel actually said:

        “I don’t find it particularly important if he is or is not apprehended. (OK – I do fear that he might have just been practicing on me, and that more deadly violence can be expected of him in the future).”

        He relates others going to classrooms: ‘They told me that they had gone today from classroom to classroom in the schools, telling these young men and women: “We don’t want to apprehend or reprimand anyone. But whoever did this: do you have any idea whose skull you bashed in? Only because of him you are sitting in this classroom, because he is the guy who got it built.”’ : The point is a call within a classroom will not work; it will create solidarity around the invisible assailant. What was done was an attempt to reverse that solidarity by pointing out who was actually hit, trying to create a norm against recurrence, to show that indeed not everyone is an identical if Jew or Palestinian–as you say, to stop the dehumanization of the individual.

        And, yes, if the thrower was identified, he should be arrested. But that is not what these class room talks were for. If you continually degrade all social process on the other side, you will indeed get what you predict. Which is the goal.

        These classrooms are in East Jerusalem, under occupation. There is no prospect of a “high ranking” PA job through stone throwing or killing here. And you know that.

        What you do here is turn this description into yet another dehumanizing situation in support of a war of generic group entities, PA, Palestinian, Jew. You do exactly what you critcize.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          The norm that exists is that throwing rocks at Jews or killing Jews is a heroic act. For a demonstration see the treatment of the murderers of Israeli civilians by all the representatives of the Palestinians. These school visits are at best fighting a losing battle and at worst playing into it by refusing to reprimand anyone for the act. It is the equivalent of telling the kids that there may occasionally be an “innocent” victim in their just attacks on Jews. Hardly a reassuring message.

          I degrade “social process” on the other side when the underlying background is one in which the war against the Jews is seen as a vital struggle and attacks on random Jewish civilians is seen as legitimate. Even this Jew’s ‘friends’ at best they can do is to suggest that this specific Jew was an unproductive target. The lack of reprimand suggests that the overall approach is that this was an honest mistake. This reminds of the Palestinian approach to the suicide bombers that blew up hundreds of Israeli women and children during the intifada. These people are still treated as heroes. The tactic is just considered to have been inefficient. So, again, attacks and massacres of Jews is just fine, it is just that sometimes the tactic is incorrect. Honest mistake. Sorry. We’ll kill the other random Jew next time. This embrace of the legitimization of the murder of Israeli civilians is a fundamental underlying sickness in the Palestinian approach to the conflict.

          If the thrower is identified and arrested and jailed, when he comes out of jail he will be a role model. In the past, including in the past few months, terrorists released from Israeli jails have been received as heroes and granted gifts of $50,000 by the Palestinian Authority and rewarded with jobs in its bureaucracy. As far as I remember that includes East Jerusalem residents. Though you are right. Throwing a rock at a Jew is not enough for such rewards. Once he kills some random Jew then he deserves the money and the job.

          What I do here is demonstrate the blatant ridiculousness of this narrative. This guy has so dehumanized himself that he can’t even be angry that someone randomly threw a rock at him. He has so dehumanized himself that he thinks it is acceptable for a random Jew to get stoned in Jerusalem. He thinks it is touching that his friends went to schools and told students that they targeted the wrong random Jew. Not that they targeted a random Jew, but they just happen to target one that is pro-Palestinian.

          Reply to Comment
          • K9, this thread is about to die so my comment here means nothing; but perhaps that is ever the case.

            In your terms Gandhi also dehumanized himself. Your position would have more force if you ever responded to violations against Palestinians. But you do not. The best I have ever seen from you is “a few maniacs” when it comes to the destruction of olive trees. Not that you then go on to say that the maniacs should be found and prosecuted; no, you don’t go so far.

            Nor do you ever despair a single IDF trigger death. If you want a hero, consider the Boarder Guard woman who was proclaimed a hero in newspapers (“Hero of the Day”) but fatally shooting a Palestinian teenager. On your own terms, you are becoming as your enemy.

            As to treating stone throwers as murderers, then so are the IDF who have killed using tear gas canisters. The stone throwing is a warning that resistance will come. It is about as anti-Jewish as your own descriptions of Palestinians are anti-Arab. If you want resistance to end, expunge them totally, with all the costs entailed. Otherwise, life will live, and an accommodation will come.

            Suicide bombers are not the sum total of Palestinian teens. I have said repeatedly that Palestinian groups must face that time openly and truthfully. It is unlikely that one can get anywhere by pure condemnation; but one can say “no more,” not that way, it is past; exactly as I would frame the Nakba. It is past, no more, not here, not now.

            As long as you discount every harm done to a Palestinian, citizen or not, I see you as a modern day expulsionist. You have no end game. That is why your view leads to more destruction.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Do you think Daniel’s friends are walking around schools today telling kids that the 2 year old girl that was injured yesterday by rocks thrown at the car she was riding in Jerusalem was not a “good” target or do you think they are likely just staying home because she was an entirely legitimate one? Just another symbol of the occupation right? No real head injuries there for the two year old. Those were symbolic rocks that almost killed her. And if she were to die would then turn those rocks into real ones or would that death to then just be a success of the resistance in killing another ‘symbol’ (aka Jew)?

            Maniacs that go around committing price-tag attacks should be arrested and imprisoned. Illegal outpost construction should be stopped and those carrying it out prosecuted and punished. In the cases where Israeli military personnel purposefully kill Palestinian civilians they should be prosecuted and punished. I have no problem whatsoever saying that and have in the past. Try not putting words in my mouth, or taking them out of there due to your own delusions about what my positions are.

            But then and even worse, you get to the nonsense about trying to equate the idolization of suicide bombers among the Palestinians with the passing and partial approval of a border policewoman who thinking she was in physical danger shot and killed the attacker. Do you realize how pathetic that makes your argument?

            Stone throwing is not a symbolic warning. It is an act of violence meant to hurt people that in this case led to this guy getting injured and in other cases caused the death of people. You then go on to call the attempt to hurt random people because they are Jews ‘resistance’. The PA and Hamas ascribe the same title to suicide bombings that kill Israeli civilians. In all cases it suggests that the attacks on Israeli civilians are praiseworthy acts. It is no wonder that the kids on the ground have a hard time understanding what is wrong with trying to kill random Jews. This is not “SYMBOLIC”. These are attempts to kill Jewish civilians and those that succeed are praised as heroes. They symbol here is the dehumanization of Jews and glorification of their murders. See, it wasn’t a Jew that was hurt here. It was just a symbolic rock that was thrown. That it landed on a Jew and hurt him is a trivial fact easily paved over by seeing that Jew as a symbol, not a human being. But it was thrown at the Jew (a human), not at a wall (a potential inanimate symbol). Got it?

            Suicide bombings were not ‘symbolic acts’ meant to demonstrate some feeling the bomber had. Yet I remember many articles written at that time by people that sounded like you that made that argument. The bombing is a symbol, like art or political theater, and the dead Jews are just cardboard stage pieces. That argument, as well as the argument you make here effectively justifying the attack on Seidemann are despicable.

            I don’t discount every harm done to Palestinians. My end game is the two state solution. The view that leads to more violence is that of the Palestinians who have yet to accept the idea that Jews that live here are human beings rather than symbols meant to be stoned and massacred until they go away. The view that leads to more violence is the one that considers all Jews as legitimate targets and any acts, regardless how despicable, to be acts of legitimate and justified ‘resistance’ and those carrying out massacres of Jews as heroes. No peace is possible as long as the Palestinians see a Jew as a “symbol” to be hurt and not as a human being. By turning acts of violence into abstract ‘symbols’ and murderous attacks into praiseworthy ‘resistance’ you are part of the problem.

            Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          >‘They told me that they had gone today from classroom to classroom

          Actually, I’d say that there is at least 99.99999% probability is that no-one went to any classrooms but the guy was lied to by his Arab “friends”

          Reply to Comment
          • David T.

            I’d say that there is the same probability that you are trying to incite against Arabs by painting them as lying and untrustworthy friends.

            And there’s a 100% chance that I have read the same BS about Jews coming from other racist.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            And there is 100% chance that every post of yours incites against Joooos David.

            Reply to Comment
          • David T.

            “And there is 100% chance that every post of yours incites against Joooos David.”

            If you weren’t such a terrible liar Tutzik, you could prove to everyone that there is at least one post where I even talk about Jews as such. Either negative or positive. but since you are 100% a liar …

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            Well David, in 100% of your posts you say that we Jews alone have no right to have our own state in which we are a majority. I would say that is pretty anti Jewish. Wouldn’t you?

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >I’d say that there is the same probability that you are trying to incite against Arabs by painting them as lying and untrustworthy friends.

            You’d say that only because you have no idea of what you are talking about – as usual.

            Yous see, Israel is able to maintain control over WB and Gaza strip solely because Arabs are untrustworthy and will sell their own kin to occupational forces for a very low price and many times before even asked to.

            How do you think Israel manages to prevent numerous terrorist attacks?

            Great most – thanking Arabs who go and inform on their compatriots.

            >And there’s a 100% chance that I have read the same BS about Jews coming from other racist.

            Given that you never lived among Arabs in your life, your opinion really does not worth much.

            Reply to Comment
    7. Joel

      They’re not throwing rocks at Jews, they’re throwing rocks at ‘evil’.

      Reply to Comment
    8. A S

      Who ever go to sleep with dogs, don’t be surprise to wake up with ticks.
      You idiot.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Samuel

      “So much for the undivided capital of Israel, where a Jewish Israeli visiting a Palestinian friend less than a mile away is a source of astonishment.”

      And the point of this comment is …….? ……? …..?

      Reply to Comment
    10. David T.

      “Yous see, Israel is able to maintain control over WB and Gaza strip solely because Arabs are untrustworthy and will sell their own kin to occupational forces for a very low price and many times before even asked to.”

      There were also times in which Jews betrayed Jews. Are Jews as such “lying” and “untrustworthy”, too? Or only, if they are occupied and fear for their family, because the occupier threatens him, if they don’t collaborate?

      “Given that you never lived among Arabs in your life, your opinion really does not worth much.”

      That is exactly what and Antisemites would say, too, when living amongst or working with Jews. Trespasser, you are just the anti Arab equivalent of an antisemite. Through and through.

      Reply to Comment
    11. It’s depressing to see how many commentators take such a shallow and derisive view of a man who bravely risks attacks from both sides in order to seek genuine understanding and peace. One can imagine a white South African anti-apartheid activist being set upon by angry black South African youths, and being strong enough in his convictions not to simply give up and say, “Well, ‘they’ attacked me, so screw them! Let them languish in their shantytowns and laws that discriminate against them. I wash my hands of it.”

      The issues are much bigger than one or two incidents, however unfortunate and ill-advised they may be. Larger people can see beyond their own personal injuries to the bigger picture, and can hew to their beliefs even when the going gets tough.

      He deserves praise, not derision, for his work and his steadfastness. Thank God he wasn’t hurt too badly. kol hakavod, chaver.

      Reply to Comment
      • AndrasB

        Is this man brave really? No, his enemies are the jewish Israelis, who never intend to hurt him. Is he clever? No, if he does not know he can be stoned if he is a jew. Is he Ghandhian? No, he is against violence only, if this against his side. The depressing thing is to see the growing number of people in this cult, where their agressive peace fighting roots in cowardice and stupidity not noticing they are only useful idiots. I really do not wish this of course, but if his children were killed in this aweful incident, this would make his beliefs only stronger. This kind of thinking made many hurt in the history…

        Reply to Comment
      • Jean

        Well said, Pamela.
        I too was astonished at the number of inane and hateful responses to Mr. Seidemann’s wise and eloquent words about his unfortunate experience. Some of the comments are shockingly base.
        It reminds me of the American saying “no good deed goes un-punished.” It appears now that no noble sentiments go un-reviled.

        Reply to Comment
    12. F Callen

      Hahahahahahahahahaha. Hahahahahahahahaha hahah haha ahahahahaha hahahahahahahahahaha hah haha hahahahah ahahahahahahahaha

      Reply to Comment
    13. The Truth

      Far-left “Jews” who obsessively kiss up to crazed racists/jihadists who want to mass-murder Jews and erase the world’s only Jewish state to make it an Arab Muslim state.

      Something mentally ill there.

      Reply to Comment
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