Written: November 16, 2005
I saw a video clip that brought me to tears. It shows a man cradling a child's face in his hands as he tenderly kisses her forehead. The man is a grieving father who had just lost his son. The girl is a hospital patient who had just received the boy's heart...
The boy who died was 12 year old Ahmed Khatib, a Palestinian living in Jenin, shot by Israeli soldiers because he chose to play with a most unfortunate toy; a plastic gun. After he died, his parents Ismail and Abla made the painful decision to donate his organs, but they took it one step further: they told doctors to give the organs to whoever needed them most.
The girl who received Ahmed's heart is an Israeli Arab. Five other children and one woman who received his lungs, liver and kidneys are Israeli Jews. One boy comes from an ultra-orthodox Jewish family.
Their painful decision has certainly attracted attention. The soldiers who shot Ahmed apologized, calling their act a terrible mistake. The Khatibs have received calls and visits from Israeli Finance Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, each saying the Khatibs' act furthers their cause. Some of their neighbors are angry, saying they shouldn't have given their son's organs to the "people" who killed him.
Ismail and Abla don't care. They call their decision a peaceful overture that others should emulate, especially where children are concerned. According to Israeli human rights groups, fighting in the West Bank has killed 672 Palestinian and 118 Israeli minors in the last five years.
As the video continues to roll, Ismail stands and embraces the girl's father.
Then Abla steps in and hands the girl's mother flowers and the two hug and wipe tears from their faces.
In this moment, there is no division, just two mothers sharing the most poignant moment of sacrifice -- and hope.