Palestine Monitor, 20 June 2010
Last week Palestine Monitor reported that Israeli police shot and killed Shu’fat resident 39-year-old Ziad Jilani in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Wadi Joz. Now his widow, a U.S. citizen, reflects on her husband’s life and death, and the journey he’s taken her on. Reporting from Kara Newhouse.
Moira Jilani remembers her experience vividly, “I felt happy that day. We were going to go out and celebrate, because the children finished exams the day before,” she tells me from her brother-in-law’s house, where she’s spent her days since Ziad’s death on June 11. “We were cleaning, getting rid of the winter clothes. We had the music loud, the girls were dancing. We were ready to leave.”
“When Aya [her niece] came knocking at the door, she was crying, her whole face was drenched. She said, ‘My mom wants you. Come now,’ I said, “Aya, Aya, is it Ziad?” She didn’t say anything. She couldn’t say anything. I knew he was dead.”
Moira comes close to tears just once during our three-hour interview. Most of the time she speaks in a steely voice, anger her prevailing emotion over Ziad’s killing and the broader injustice it represents. “A soldier shot a guy today. What else is new? That’s how the whole world looks at it,” she said. “Everyday you hear something like that, but this one is not going to go unheard. My husband, he was killed brutally. If you heard someone doing that to a dog, you would be crying. But to hear it done to a human being…” she trails off.
Jilani’s sisters called their brother’s death unnecessary, pointing out that if he had committed a crime, the police should have arrested him and carried an investigation. Instead, officers shot Jilani point blank in the head after he fell to the ground from initial bullet wounds. While Haaretz originally referred to the shooting as the result of a ‘suspected terror attack,’ with Jilani reportedly hitting three border police with his truck, Amira Hass’ article from Wednesday cites other possibilities for the incident: In tight traffic with pedestrians returning from Friday prayer, witnesses reported seeing stones thrown at police officers. Some said they saw those stones hit Jilani’s car, causing him to swerve. Thousands of Palestinian men streamed into the Jilani’s Shu’fat neighborhood in the two days following his death. Although Jilani had no political affiliations, he was swiftly labelled “Shaheed (martyr) Ziad Jilani.” on posters.
“In English, when people think of martyr, they think, ‘he went to war, he became a martyr,’” said Moira. “No. He did not go to war. He died an Islamic death, without guns. He had not even a pencil to defend himself. A pencil is considered a weapon over here.”
‘Over here’ is a long way from Moira’s home countries: the U.S. and Barbados. She met Ziad in Texas in the early 1990’s, where she managed a Sbarro pizza chain. He was studying at Texas A&M University. “We were inseparable from the day that we met,” she said. “My husband was the sort of man people wanted to know him just from his look. His eyes used to tell a story. They used to dance for me.”
- Read about Ziad’s death here http://www.palestinemonitor.org/spi…