As many followers of Terrestrial Jerusalem may know, on November 23, Terrestrial Jerusalem founder and director Daniel Seidemann was hit in the head and injured by a stone thrown at him as he sat in traffic in the East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhood of Sur Bahir. Danny wishes to thank his friends around the world for their outpouring of support and concern, and wants to reassure everyone that he is recovering from what turned out to be a serious concussion. He also asks people for patience if he is a little slower than normal in responding to emails during this period.
At the time of his injury, Danny was returning home from a visit to a Palestinian friend. His car was caught in traffic just as school was letting out and, in Danny’s words, he was a “sitting duck.” Shortly after he returned from the hospital, Danny wrote at length about his experience here. Among other things, he noted,
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.
The following day, Danny wrote more about the experience (here). He wrote:
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. [emphasis added]