Martin Luther King Jr. once said that “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
This quote means so much to all people living under oppression—to people in need of recognition, help, and support to overcome injustices that suffocate all that is good.
Friends of the oppressed should never be silent. They should always lend a voice to the oppressed, because on this journey to freedom and justice, we can’t walk alone. We can’t survive without true camaraderie that knows how to speak the truth and seeks peace for all.
Nineteen years ago, the Asleh family from Arrabeh, the Palestinian town inside the Green Line, lost a pure soul, a son, and a pioneer named Asel.
They were not the only ones to feel the loss and that pain: many of Asel’s friends from different circles, including Seeds of Peace, still miss him and commemorate October 2nd as the day a beautiful human soul was taken.
Asel was murdered by Israeli police in his hometown as they brutally suppressed demonstrations that were taking place on both sides of the Green Line. These protests were a reaction to the massive response by the Israeli military against demonstrations in the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem that broke out as a result of the provocative visit by Ariel Sharon to the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem. Sharon was the head of the Israeli opposition in the Knesset and was running to become Israeli prime minister.
These demonstrations are known today as the start of Second Intifada. The Israeli military response to them left thousands of Palestinians dead; the Palestinian retaliation took hundreds of Israeli lives. Inside the Green Line, 13 Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed by Israeli police and border police during demonstrations.
Our beloved Asel was one of these 13, one of the too many lives lost in this cruel reality in which we live.
Asel was shot at short range while he was wearing his green Seeds of Peace t-shirt. He was there because he believed in justice, in peace, in acting against oppression, and because he believed in humanity.
Asel represented all that is good in this world. He touched the souls of so many while he was with us and the souls of many more who only met him through hearing his story and the details of his peaceful life and genuine heart. He managed to build relationships with enemies and with people he never knew before—to connect with everyone he met with honesty and love.
This week, we remember Asel.
This week, we remember martyrs everywhere who were killed fighting injustice and oppression.
History should not be forgotten. From the pain of the past we must move to a better future. We must wake up and lead for justice and peace. We must embrace our role in ending oppression and building a world in which all are respected.
Seeds of Peace is growing and developing. As a part of this process, we are approaching things in new ways. We will progress and be a true light on the path to peace.
We exist so we can create together a future in which, having learned from the agony of the past, we can all thrive in a world free of oppression, racism, and violence.
Like Asel, Bashar is a Palestinian citizen of Israel. He is currently the Palestinian Programs Director at Seeds of Peace.