Returning home from a celebration in honor of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, the car carrying Eitam and Naama Henkin and their four children came under fire as it slowly made its way through the windy roads of the West Bank. Spotting the vehicle’s Israeli plates, Palestinian terrorists unleashed a volley of bullets at the Henkin car, killing both parents immediately. Miraculously, the couple’s four children seated in the back of the car emerged unsacthed from the attack.
Demanding condemnation from the Palestinian leadership, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was met with deafening silence. No statement has yet been issued by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas while members of an armed group affiliated with Abbas’s own Fatah movement have taken responsibility for the attack, praising the murder of two innocent civilians. This sentiment was echoed by Hamas which took to Twitter to commend the “heroic operation.”
For some individuals within the Palestinian community, however, silence is not option. Unwilling to allow violence to define his people and their future, Bassem Eid issued an immediate and unequivocal condemnation of the attack. Eid, the founder of Jerusalem-based Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG), placed blame for the attack on the shoulders of the Palestinian Authority whose path of incitement against Israelis, he believes, gives way to such attacks.
Eid’s condemnation reads much like his other pieces. Born in the Old City of Jerusalem, Bassem Eid spent much of his formative years in the Shuafat Refugee Camp where he became a passionate activist for Palestinian human rights. Initially working on behalf of Israeli NGO B’Tselem, he later left the group to form his own organization after it became clear that human rights abuses by the Palestinian Authority would not be publicized.
To date, Eid has worked hard to introduce a nuanced solution to improve the situation for his own Palestinians by encouraging them to look inward and shape their own destiny. His “key to a better future” is a pragmatic approach which seeks to empower a strong Palestinian civil society by establishing democratic institutions and choosing education over terror. Most importantly perhaps, Eid implores Palestinians to imagine a secular Palestinian state living peacefully alongside the State of Israel in which each country would benefit from one another through shared interests and mutual trust.
The recent weeks have been characterized by an uptick in violence against Israelis fueled by incessant incitement. Too often during such waves of terror, however, the voices of moderates within the Palestinian community are all but lost from the conversation, hidden out of fear of retribution. By strengthening individuals such as Bassem Eid and his vision for the Palestinian future, we empower Palestinian civil society alongside their Israeli counterparts to forge a new course of cooperation, understanding, and peace.