A heart from Jenin

27 11 2008

ahmed_ishmael-khatibThis is the story of a Palestinian family, Ismael Khatib, his wife Agla, and their son Achmed. The family lived in Jenin. 5 November, 2005, their twelve year old son Achmed was playing on the street with friends, he was shot by Israeli soldiers, who thought the toy-gun the children played with was the real deal. A bullet was lodged in his head. The boy was braindead. An Arab Israeli nurse, Raymond, discusses the subject of organ donation with Ismael. After consulting the mufti, and other important people in Jenin, Achmed´s parents agree to the donation.
Four children in Israel get a new lease of life as a result.

A story like in a movie. And it is a movie: a German-Israeli team have made a documentary, following three of the children as Ismael Khatib is visiting them. The documentary shows us these children two years later, living a new life, healthy and happy: Sameh, Mohammed and Menuha.
Mohammed, a Bedouin boy, cycles endlessly around his parent’s home. There is an immediate rapport with him, and Sameh the druse girl. Bonding with Menuha was a bit more difficult. Menuha is from a very strict orthodox Jewish family, and the father was on film in the hospital saying he had rather had a Jewish organ was being used. But he regretted saying that very much later. Menuha herself was, despite her shyness, open and interested in meeting Ismael. His main purpose was meeting the girl anyway, not the father. He is happy that some of Achmed is still living in these children, and he feels a bit closer to his dead son when he is with them.

Of course there is also the usual bigoted dislike from the nutters, naturally from both the Palestinians and the Israelis!
”How can you allow that Israeli children are rescued using the organs of your dead boy?”
Ishmael answered: ”Children are not my enemies, they carry no guilt”
Even more miffed were the Israelis, showing such greatness of heart doesn’t fit their picture of the Palestinians at all!
Ishmael himself has thrown molotof-coctails at military vehicles, and was put into jail 11 times himself, but he mused, ”This is more unpleasant to them, as if I was a terrorist.”

Ishmael, with help from the Italian town of Cuneo, whose citicens have scraped together the money, has set up a youthcenter in the refugee camp, so children have a safe place to play now. The centre is lead by Ishmael, the children come after school, and in the holidays. It is not all play, the children are being educated in a playful manner, using music, film and theatre. In the largest room, where the children learn Dabka, a Palestinian traditional dance, the children have painted an enormous red heart on the wall, in memory of Achmed. Agla also visits the centre regularly, it helps her in her grief to see Achmed’s friends.

Watch a trailer here

Watch 48 minutes of a movie, a large part is about Jenin itself, I’m not clear, but I think this is a different movie, but made about the same subject.


We should not listen to the warmongers, religious bigots and selfish ”patriots”. We can change the world for the better! The world can change, by the decisions and actions of simple individuals. Who are not so simple in showing their greatness of heart and true humanity.

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11 responses

27 11 2008
susanne430

What a great story. Ahmad is so cute. How wonderful that he lives on in those three. His family is so generous. May there be more and more like them! Thank you for sharing this.

27 11 2008
darvish

Thank you for sharing this remarkable story 🙂 It inspires hope in a land where such a commodity is in short supply. There will always be haters, but the better angels of our nature will win out in the end.

Ya Haqq!

27 11 2008
Lat

Ishamael is a great soul.His story brings hope to the war-zone area.May Allah(swt) reward him greatly.Ameen.

27 11 2008
Lofter

What a wonderful story. Even out of the worst of circumstances can come the greatest of blessings. Thanks for sharing… 🙂

27 11 2008
Aafke

I’m glad you all liked this story, I was very touched by it, and it gives me hope for humanity after all.

27 11 2008
Marahm

Me, too, Aafke- this story inspires hope and admiration for the noble qualities that reside in some people, and that can be nurtured in others.

27 11 2008
Nader

wonderful and touching story indeed. We need more wise men like Ismael. Could you please tell me the name of the documentary?
Thanks Aafke!

27 11 2008
Aafke

Marahm, it’s good to know tnere is hope for the human race yet.

Nader, The film is also called ;;The heart from Jenin” it was shown last month on the Toronto filmfestival, see link:
http://www.tiff08.ca/filmsandschedules/films/heartofjenin

I’ve added a link so you can see the trailer to the movie.

27 11 2008
coolred38

My only comment is how on earth Palestinian children would even have the nerve to play with anything that even remotely looks like a weapon much less an actual toy gun considering the hair trigger shoot first dont ask questions later Israeli police…Im pretty damn sure parents are always drilling it into their kids how not to “draw attention” from Big Brother looking down with sniper guns…I dont understand it.

At least something good came of it in the end.

27 11 2008
Aafke

Coolred, Palestinian mothers don’t even want their children to play outside at all!
Those soldiers were ”undercover” in civilian clothes, so the children didn’t even realise there were soldiers about.
Anyway, holding a stone is already enough to get shot, the soldiers never get any repercussions for shooting cicvilians or children.

28 11 2008
Achelois

This is amazing! Thanks for sharing this, aafke!

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