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Gaza’s West Side Story: A Painful Account of an Unlikely Friendship and How Hamas Destroyed One Palestinian Family


Hilel K and his wife Jenny on their wedding day. Photo: Courtesy Hilel K

On Wednesday afternoon, July 29, Hilel K waited for his wife outside the delivery room in Asaf Harofeh hospital. She had just given birth to a baby girl.

It had been a long night for Hilel. He had driven home to Lod at 5am after having had the misfortune of being in Eshkol at the exact time that the mortars fell the night before, killing four Israeli soldiers and wounding several others. A truck driver who immigrated from County Derry, Ireland, when he was 17, Hilel is no stranger to peril.

A few days back, on July 22nd, Hilel posted a personal account of his friendship with a Palestinian from Gaza on his Facebook profile. The post, in Hebrew, triggered hundreds of shares but also sparked vociferous reactions from right-wingers, left-wingers and Arabs from Israel and elsewhere.

This is Hilel’s chilling story:

* * *

I met Basim in Los Angeles. It was during a convention celebrating the 90th anniversary of Harley Davidson. I was wearing a shirt with Hebrew writing on it and I noticed somebody looking at me oddly.

I can’t remember exactly how we began to talking. When he told me his name was Basim I sensed an initial recoiling within me, but once we began to talk about motorcycles, our mutual passion, Basim opened up more and more.

He had come to California from Gaza. Shuja’iyya to be exact. He worked as a construction worker in Israel for years and saved up money to learn electronic engineering. He’d been in the US studying for two years. He told me he’d lived in Tel Aviv for a long time, working in construction and in restaurants. And as per the Israeli custom, Basim and I too, quickly figured out who our mutual acquaintances were.

Our friendship blossomed. We would meet up once in a while for a sandwich, because he didn’t drink. “It isn’t allowed!” he’d say, and I would sigh, accepting with disappointment, that a night out at the bar with Basim wasn’t possible.

A short while thereafter, he introduced me to Farah.

Farah came from a wealthy family in Bethlehem that had made its fortune from selling souvenirs to Christian tourists. They also owned a small hotel.

Farah studied in Birzeit [University in Ramallah] and had come to Berkley as part of a student exchange program. She was an exceptionally intelligent young woman. It was entertaining to watch Basim’s advances toward Farah.

Eventually I had to leave California and return to Israel. We stayed in touch on the phone. Basim was enthralled by the pre-Oslo-Accord atmosphere. “Your general Rabin is a real man. You’ll see. He’s destined to do something great here,” he’d say.

Bill Clinton, Yitzhak Rabin, and Yassir Arafat at the Oslo Signing Ceremony, September 13, 1993. Photo: Wikipedia.

I was a skeptic and I told Basim let’s wait and see.

But he turned out to be right; the Oslo Accord was signed.

The following week, all excited, he called to tell …read more

Source: The Algemeiner

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Posted by on July 31, 2014. Filed under Israeli News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.