Bus Crash Victim: Palestinian Who Visited Israeli Friends

Anas Maloul, 25, lived in Ramallah and worked for a Palestinian NGO focusing on democratic education; he was the sole victim in Tuesday's crash.

The sole victim of Tuesday's collision between an Egged bus and a truck has been named as Anas Maloul, 25, from the village of Salat al-Dahr northwest of Nablus. He was buried in his village yesterday.

Maloul, who lived in Ramallah, was on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem bus Tuesday morning as he returned from a rare visit to Tel Aviv and Jaffa. He spent his last day with his friend Noam Bahat, an Israeli conscientious objector who had spent two years in prison for refusing to serve in an occupying army. Maloul met Bahat when he went on scholarship to study at Hampshire College in Massachusetts. They shared a flat and became close friends.

bus crash victim

Maloul, who majored in political science but was also interested in natural science, psychology and philosophy, had recently started working for Al-Tariq, a Palestinian NGO focusing on democratic education that also organizes meetings and discussions with Israeli groups, sometimes in conjunction with the Parents Circle. Maloul was a program organizer for Al-Tariq.

His friends told Haaretz yesterday that Maloul's father has worked for years at a Rishon Letzion restaurant. His sisters also studied abroad, having won various merit scholarships.

When Maloul was in high school, he was injured by Israel Defense Forces gunfire. His friends described a charismatic young man, a brilliant and curious student, a poet, a devout Muslim who prayed five times a day and would often pose existential questions and voraciously read thinkers he disagreed with.

Bahat, 28, works in a boarding school for hearing-impaired children in Kfar Sava.

"You could disagree with Anas on absolutely everything and still love him so much," he said. "He would argue over anything, and every conversation would gradually become his speech. About religion and secularism and how much he dislikes Marx, about colonialism.

"But you couldn't ignore his kindness. The kindness he got from his culture and which contrasted so starkly with the cold alienation of American society. I'm now getting letters from his friends to pass to his family, and one thing that stands out is how kind he was, how he was like a brother to them.

"He didn't know how to keep his money," Bahat continued. "As soon as he made any, he would share it with others. He would send it to Palestinian children, or to an American friend down on his luck, or to a mosque. And that's while he worked at odd jobs during college and after graduation worked as an Arabic teacher and translator.

"Obviously, he could be my friend because I refused to serve the occupation. Once I got a visit from a friend who served in the army. Anas treated him perfectly nicely, but when he left, he asked me not to do that to him again."

A few days ago, Maloul told Bahat that he missed Jaffa and the sea and wanted to use a month-long entry permit he had obtained to come for a visit. They usually met in the Ramallah area, but on Monday, they walked around the Old City of Jerusalem and then went to Tel Aviv and Jaffa, spending a few hours on the beach.

Maloul decided to sleep in Tel Aviv and take a bus to work early the next morning. When he left, his hosts were still sleeping, but he left them a note saying "everything is fine" and that he "knows the way," Bahat said.

Around noon, when the first news flashes reported a bus accident on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway, a concerned Bahat began calling hospitals. Meanwhile, the Palestinian civilian coordination committee informed Maloul's family of the crash and asked them to come to the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Abu Kabir to identify his body.

The funeral was delayed until Thursday because a misunderstanding sent the body to Jenin instead of Nablus.

Maloul's death was mourned this week not only by his family, classmates and neighbors, but also by the many friends he made over the past five years in Europe and the United States.

"He could be the life of the party and then cry alone in his room," wrote one friend, Quincy Saul. "He taught me the meaning of occupation with his anger and with his joy. He made us laugh and cry and wonder every day. He really made us think. He was a poet, a prophet and a clown. And he made the best cheesecake in the world."