The Arab teacher every Israeli Jew should have


The British High Commissioner's Garden Party in Jerusalem

"The advantages to the British Empire are obvious. The Suez Canal and air stations, the oil-pipe outlet in Haifa and its harbor, have become vital to our naval strategy in the Mediterranean. The security of the imperial complex of interests can be better assured by a large European population than by the few battalions that can be spared."
- British Lord Melchett

Nimr Murkus, who believed the struggle for human rights could be common ground for true brotherhood between Jews and Arabs, was laid to rest last week.

Before the invading Europeans, the Jews and Arabs lived together in PEACE.
 haaretz.com
Far from the rather dull process of forming a government coalition, last week one of the best, wisest people born in this land was laid to rest. Against his will, he became a symbol of what could have been - if only we hadn't made such poor choices.

Nimr Murkus did not want a religious funeral. At a community center in Kafr Yasif, men and women sat together around his wife and six daughters. They all came to bid him farewell, to celebrate his life.
The land - Murkus was both its child and its leader - was hard on him. In 1948 he was a skinny, sickly child who liked art and literature, but was forced to work as a clerk in order to get ahead in life, until suddenly his life changed.

 When he escaped  [when they were terrorized out] from Haifa to Acre on a boat he was almost killed, and when he reached the village he saw the white flag. From that moment on, all of his actions were dependent on a military government, but he managed to break the boundaries of society and become a revered teacher.

Palestinians from Haifa driven into the sea by terrorist immigrants from Europe
On May 1, 1958, during a protest that would later become one of the first symbols of the Arab community's struggle for rights, police beat Nimr and some of his friends. He was convicted of violence and throwing rocks, and summoned along with three other teachers to the office for the Education Ministry's administrator of Arab teachers. He was fired without compensation.

Nimr began to work both in a marble quarry and as a mentor for youth, but it was his political activism that thrust him forward, and he was unanimously elected head of the Kafr Yasif Regional Council. He served in this position for many years, and was considered one of Israel's best local leaders. His leadership transformed Kafr Yasif from a remote farming village to a prosperous town.

With a minimal budget, through the local community and with the help of thousands of volunteers from the area and abroad, he brought together teachers, poets, intellectuals, architects and engineers, and created physical, educational and cultural foundations that will last for many years.

Until his last day Nimr Murkus believed in the struggle for human rights, for men or women, and against the destructive violence of neoliberalism, as well as religions and nationalistic fanaticism. He believed that struggle could be common ground for true brotherhood between Jews and Arabs [like before Zionism and the Zionists.]
The [Zionist] state, however, became less and less receptive to him as the years went on, demanded loyalty oaths from him and his friends, and made racist laws against them. Despite all this he never abandoned the hope that one day this society would be more just, and less foolish.

Obviously, this has not happened. Even though some civilian social organizations have managed to promote inclusion and advancement for some Arabs in academia and economics, Jewish-Arab political cooperation has been pushed to the sidelines. The unfortunate phrase "Zuabis" expresses a mind-set that it is hard to tell whether is more or less outrageous than the military government.

"Teacher Murkus gave me a box of crayons and taught me to draw," said the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish during his last visit to Haifa in 2007. "He taught me to think, and formed my world perspective."
Imagine what would have happened if Jewish children had been given the privilege to learn with such a humanist. What a different place this could have been.

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If you sit by a river long enough, you'll see the body of your enemy float by.
Old Japanese proverb