As we enter 2021, beginning the new year with hope for a better one than what an obiously tumultuous 2020 brought, my greatest hope is that the Abraham Accords will expand peace in the entire Arab region — and in Israel; that all Arab countries will join in this agreement.
The name Mohammed al-Dura, who is barely known in the United States, may play a role in realizing this goal. Yet to a billion people in the Muslim world, this name is currently an infamous symbol of grievance against Israel.
Al-Dura was the 12-year-old Palestinian boy shot and killed during an exchange of fire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian demonstrators in the Gaza Strip on Sept. 30, 2000.
That was the second day of the Al-Aqsa Intifada.
French cameraman Charles Enderlin, a correspondent for France 2, captured the scene of 12-year-old Mohammed al-Dura and his father, Jamal Al-Dura, behind a cement barrel, after they were caught in the midst of exchanges of fire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian security forces. This footage, lasting more than one-minute, showed the scene of father and son taking shelter.
It also showed the boy's sobbing, and the father's signal for shooters to stop.
Amid a shower of fire and dust, the boy then slumped over on his father's legs.
At the time of this horrific incident, I was 19-years-old.
I watched this footage with my family. We all went quiet for an appreciably few seconds.
I felt extreme sadness for the little boy caught in the middle of a firefight.
He likely may not have even have known the reasons for it, or why it occurred.
I felt even more sorrow for the father who witnessed the killing of his son.
At the time I asked myself, "Is this going to be another incident where people will watch with empathy, feel the sorrow briefly, then move on?"
Will Israel or Arab countries do something about it?
What is the right thing to do in order to honor either the loss of this boy, who died in the face of terror, or his father who could not protect his son from the forces of war?
Is Muhammed al Dura going to be forgotten?
Through the repeated showing of that Sept. 30, 2000 video footage of Mohammed al-Dura being shot and killed during an exchange of fire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian demonstrators in the Gaza Strip, his memory will remain as familiar and significant to Arab and Islamic viewers as images of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are to the people of Japan.
Or, as footage of the crumbling World Trade Center in New York is to Americans.
Several Arab nations have issued postage stamps bearing a picture of the terrified boy, Mohammed al-Dura. One of Baghdad's main streets have even been renamed "The Martyr Mohammed Aldura Street." Morocco has an al-Dura Park in his honor.
Additionally, in one of the messages Osama bin Laden released after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and the subsequent U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, he listed indictments against "American arrogance and Israeli violence" by saying, "In the epitome of his arrogance and the peak of his media campaign in which he boasts of 'enduring freedom,' Bush must not forget the image of Mohammed al-Dura and his fellow Muslims in Palestine and Iraq. If he has forgotten, then we will not forget, God willing."
Osama bin Laden is dead, but for other terrorists and dictators in the Arab region, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is still rages.
Thus, the story of Muhammed Al Dura endures, one remembered by older generations.
With the Abraham Accords (Sept 15, 2020), an effort towards peace has been made; this relfects an effort to try to end the endless Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and prevent more incidents like the martyrdom of Muhammed Al Dura.
The Abraham Accords are also a step towards seeing Israeli and Arab younger generations benefit from their occurrence.
The accords will hopefully foster economic and diplomatic relationships, inclusive of improved understanding of religions in the region.
The purpose of any religion in the world is to call for peace, love, and forgiveness.
The siren-songs of evil are anger, rage — and hatred.
When we lose our beloved ones we try to re-unite, spread love, while anguishing over how to respond both ritually and rightfully so.
I believe Muhammed Al Dura would want all Arab nations to sign on to the Abraham Accords. What a beautiful tribute it would be to the boy who suffered terror before he died over 20 years ago.
He was too young to have known hatred.
Arabs and Jews must forgive one another for the sake of a better future of our children.
Finally, I pray especially for my for motherland, Iraq, to stand up for its sovereignty against Iran — and to sign the Abraham Accords.
Mrs. Al Saadi is a refugee from Iraq and now a naturalized American citizen. Prior to co-founding PACEM Solutions International in Falls Church, Virginia, Mrs. Alsaadi held multiple Senior Executive positions and served with the US Department of State as a Cultural Advisor and the US Department of Defense as a Translator/Analyst in Iraq. Mrs. Alsaadi earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Baghdad University and her Executive Master of Business Administration from Georgetown University. Read Rana Alsaadi's Reports — More Here.
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