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Ahmad Hijazi and his son Adam

Wednesday 22 August 2012

On Monday August 20, Ahmad Hijazi and his 9 year old son Adam were killed in a car accident while they were on holiday in Zanzibar. Ahmad’s wife Maram was moderately injured in the same accident and was hospitalized in a local hospital. Their 18-year old son Issam was not with them.

The family were long-term members of WAS-NS, having come to live here permanently in 1992. Ahmad was a very central and active person in the community and until the time of his death was directing the School for Peace. He was born February 6, 1967 to a working class family in the village of Tamra in the Western Galilee, where he also attended school.

Ahmad’s first formal encounter with "the other people" was when at the age of 13 he took part in a school exchange. Children from a nearby town came to visit Tamra and each family took two Jewish children home for the day. The meeting was unfacilitated and communication was difficult, but Ahmad’s mother made them feel at home, cooking a big lunch which Ahmad’s father also joined. A month later there was supposed to be a reciprocal visit to the Jewish children. However this didn’t properly materialize. The Jewish children were evidently embarrassed at not being able to offer the Arab children the same hospitality, and didn’t show up to take them to their homes. The flawed encounter caused many hard feelings among the Arab children, and so had an opposite effect from the one that the organizers had evidently intended.

But Ahmad did not give up on the idea of encounter with Jewish young people. When he was in high school, he learned about the possibility to take part in an encounter offered by the School for Peace between his school and a Jewish school. He was eager to attend. He looked forward to meeting and talking - now more confidently - to Jewish teenagers. He expected the encounter to be mainly fun, but was surprised by its serious nature. He was especially shocked that the two sides were treated equally, which was reflected in everything, from the facilitation to the seating arrangement in the room. This helped Ahmad to become aware of the existing inequalities between the two peoples which, though unconsciously absorbed and internalized, were seldom spoken about.

The encounter made such a strong impression on Ahmad that in 1985 he came to live, study and volunteer in Wahat al-Salam for a whole year. He was part of a small select group of Arab and Jewish teenagers. The Jewish youths were taking part in a “service year” before military conscription. During their time in the village, the Jewish and Arab young people took part in a long-term Jewish-Arab group facilitation training organized by the School for Peace.

Ahmad kept strong connections with WAS-NS while attending the Hebrew University, where he majored in sociology. After graduation in 1991, he continued for MA studies in the same subject. In the meantime, he married Maram, whom he had first met during a School for Peace encounter in WAS-NS. The couple came to live in the village in 1992. They built a fine house and bore two boys, first Issam and then Adam.

During all his years in WAS-NS, Ahmad served as an active and devoted member of the community. He worked not only for the School for Peace, where he became part of the management team, but also, between 1995 – 1997, as secretary of the village (a position equivalent to mayor). Later, from 2003 to 2008, he served as director of communications and development. In a voluntary capacity, he took charge of the village’s humanitarian aid program. From 2008, until his death, he directed the School for Peace. In that capacity, he took overall responsibility for important longterm programs funded by the European Union and USAID. In recent years he developed the concept and programs for the future Peace College. At the same time, he had been taking an active role in the village as a member of the municipal committee and in various other functions.

Besides, and sometimes related to his work in WAS-NS, Ahmad lectured at a number of institutions of higher education in Israel and was a board member on several NGOs. He attended conferences and symposiums related to his field in Israel and abroad. He authored several publications, most recently co-editing an anthology of the Palestinian and Jewish poetry, Two People Write from Right to Left published by the School for Peace.

Throughout his active career he continued to study, gaining an MA in organizational behavior from the Polytechnic University, New York, in 2007 and various non-formal trainings and courses.

Ahmad’s son Adam was known to be a precocious, popular and self-confident child at the Primary School. Even while in first grade he was able to speak articulately about subjects like democracy and politics, and whenever a visitor wanted to speak to children at the school, Adam was always eager to comply. In a few days, he would have entered his fourth year at the school.

It is hard to estimate the loss to the world of both Ahmad and Adam. Ahmad, certainly, had so much more that he wished to achieve. Adam had a whole uncharted life before him. But for the village of Wahat al-Salam – Neve Shalom they will be missed as beloved members of our small community. The shock of their death is almost unendurable.


See in online album


(Download link)

See also: "Ahmad" by Yaacov Sonnenschein in Hebrew or English

Some media reports on the tragedy

Hagalil.com (German)

Article in Al-Arab, with photos from the funeral

Panet (Arabic)

Jerusalem Post (Eng)

Arabs48.com (Arabic)

Walla (Heb)

Mako (Heb)

News 1 (Heb)

Haaretz (Heb)

Article (Heb)
Maariv (Heb)
Ynet (Heb)
Haaretz (Eng)
Haaretz (Heb)

Earlier interviews, news stories

YouTube video(October 2010

Audio interview URL

Audio interview - MP3 File

html View online : British Friends Peace Fund in the name of Ahmad and Adam

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