Posted by: Lister | March 3, 2007

Jasmine Avissar and Osama Zaatar

Star-crossed lovers quit West Bank

She is a 26-year-old Jewish Israeli. Her name is Jasmine Avissar. He is a 27-year-old Palestinian Muslim, Osama Zaatar.

[…] They met when they worked at the same place in Jerusalem, and three years ago they got married.

First they tried to live in Israel, but the Israeli authorities would not allow Osama to join his wife there.

Then they tried living in the occupied West Bank, but some Palestinians made life difficult for them.

Now they’ve given up and are moving to Europe.

[…] Jasmine already has permission to go. Osama hopes to follow her soon.

[…]”I feel like a stranger here,” says Osama. “Even in my homeland. This place is a holy land, but they’re killing each other. It’s like it’s already a lost cause.”

[…] Neither Israeli nor Palestinian society has accepted their marriage. On Jasmine’s Israeli passport, it still says her marital status is “under investigation”.

[…] Jasmine has given up on her own country.
“Jewish people were abused for thousands of years, but my nation has switched from being victims to being abusers.

“That’s hard for me to acknowledge. The Jewish people are occupiers now, and we are racist.”

The car arrives at a final checkpoint.

We stand next to it, and Osama tells me why he has also given up on his own people.

“There were threats. People said if I brought my wife here we’d be in danger. Even my friends said that. They say I am a traitor.”

[…] [Jasmine says] “I just want to be a normal couple, with normal problems about rent, and money. I don’t want to have these huge gigantic problems interfering in our marriage.”

Even now though they are not quite free. Osama cannot go through the checkpoint with Jasmine. They don’t know when he will be able to join her in Europe.

They are still a couple caught in the middle of the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

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Responses

  1. Interview with Jasmine Avissar (March 2007):

    There’s a law, which means a Palestinian from the West Bank, like Osama, can’t live in Israel with an Israeli woman, even if they’re married.

    Another rule said Jasmine couldn’t live in Osama’s hometown near Ramallah.

    After a long fight, Jasmine obtained a special court order, which allowed her to travel to other side of the separation wall.

    She saw what few Israelis ever get to see firsthand.

    JASMINE AVISSAR: I was surprised to see that the Palestinians accepted me as one of their own. Then I saw the occupation from the other side of the wall, and it’s not what we see on television and it’s not what we’ve been told on the Israeli side of the wall.

    And that was very difficult to see the truth because the truth that you see every day is harder than the big things you see on the news.

    […] The hardest thing was to deal every day with the soldiers and the checkpoints, and to see my own people abusing other people every day for years and years frustrated me a lot, especially because of the fact they could not do anything about it.

    It was like looking in a mirror and seeing a very, very ugly face.

    […] The main policy of the Israeli Government is of segregation and separation. Soldiers are being brainwashed in the army to think that the Palestinians are murderous people and whenever they see a Jew they want to kill us and et cetera, et cetera.

    And of course, soldiers see me every day in checkpoints going in and out from Ramallah safe and happy and unharmed, of course challenged all these agendas and policies. In that sense, I am a very dangerous person in Israel because I meet the other side, I am alive and I prove them wrong.

    The Palestinian Authority also did not recognise the marriage:

    (Osama Zaatar speaking)

    “Unfortunately, I have suffered a lot,” he says, “I’ve been arrested many times and beaten. Once they shaved my hair off as a humiliation and that killed off any pride I had in the Palestinian Authority.”

    […] DAVID HARDAKER: Despite the official opposition, the families of the two young people have backed their union and provided support.

    […] DAVID HARDAKER: In the end, being together became just too hard. The two haven’t seen each other for nine months, since Jasmine left for Germany to try to get a visa for her husband.

    JASMINE AVISSAR: They did everything possible to make my life miserable and make me leave, and unfortunately they succeeded, but we’re not going to lose this war, and we’ll manage to live together outside.


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