A Silent Palestinian Voice Amid the Din of the Israeli Election

Whoever believes that the Awad family will continue to be denied their rights forever is living a lie, the most revolting lie of this election campaign.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Samir Awad won't be voting in Tuesday's election, not only due to his age (16 ) or his Palestinian nationality. Samir Awad won't be voting on Tuesday because he was shot dead from close range last week by Israel Defense Forces soldiers: one bullet in his head, one in his back and one in his thigh. The soldiers who shot him will vote on Tuesday, because democracy is like that.

All of the neighbors from the hills opposite Awad's home will also vote, despite living beyond the sovereign borders of their country. Most of them will vote for those who wish to banish Samir's family, or continue to make their life hard. His bereaved father, Ahmed, cannot vote in this election despite living next to Israeli citizens, and working for years in Israel, building its houses and renovating its villas.

This is the elephant in the room. The monster at the door, who we try to ignore by saying, "If we won't look at it, it won't exist." This is the worst deception of this election, the sickest lie of Israeli Democracy, promoted by all voters and candidates.

In a true democracy, Samir's death would have become a campaign issue. Four innocent Palestinians were killed in the week leading up to the election. Nobody really cared, and one doubts if most Israelis were even aware of the deaths. Awad who? A singer or a soccer player?

It's very easy to imagine the mood if, in the week leading up to the election, four Israelis were to be killed in a similar fashion: their deaths would rock the political establishment. But the Palestinian deaths go by like dust, barely worth a mention. Even their very presence in the backyard of the only democracy in the Middle East is as light as the dust.

No one bothers to inquire any more how the Awad family is prevented from participating in an election that will deeply affect their lives, while their neighbors - in the settlements constructed on their lands - enjoy rights that they can only dream of. Or how their neighbors naturally participate in this election, the ones that preceded it and the ones yet to come. How on earth can Israel be considered a democracy? How can it not be called an apartheid state? Why is nobody even discussing the issue?

Samir was murdered in cold blood. There's no other way to describe his death. A high school student who wasn't endangering anyone. The soldiers who shot him in flight will never be brought to justice. I saw their faces last week in a video clip, filmed several minutes after they killed Samir (who was trying to climb the separation barrier that suffocates his village ). They were a group of tough Israelis in uniform. Soon they will complete their service and begin civilian life, taking pride in their military service. After all, they are considered to be those with 'values,' those who 'carry the weight of the burden' - an issue that actually is present in the debate surrounding the election.

One can suppose that none of them suffer from sleepless nights, haunted by the death of the boy and the sorrow of his family. Israelis in general lose no sleep due to horrendous actions carried out on their behalf. And why should they? There are those who see to it that they shouldn't be worried. Israel Radio reported that "the IDF prevented an effort to infiltrate Israel."

Samir was two or three years younger than his killers. He didn't have much of a future to look forward to, being one of a 17-strong family, supported by his father, who works in Israel. Even in the days of mourning Ahmed sports a "Hava & Adam, the Modi'in Ecological Farm" T-shirt. He still yearningly recalls how, in his broken Hebrew, he would lecture about Palestinian agriculture to Israeli students.

The murderers of his son can expect a different future: studies, entertainment, a career and voting rights. Only because they're Jewish, not Palestinian. Israelis can vote on Tuesday for whoever they wish. But whoever believes that the Awad family will continue to be denied their rights forever is living a lie, the most revolting lie of this election campaign. Samir is the silent voice of this election, the voice which should have shocked and rocked the campaign.

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