Posted by: Lister | October 4, 2008

Siham Nashashibi

I’m not sure I’ve understood all the details of this story. From Haaretz:

Nashashibi, a blood relation of renowned Israeli author S.Y. Agnon, is yet another victim of the ongoing battle for Jerusalem. Siham is the son of Esther Wiener, Agnon’s niece, and he suffers in both the Jewish and Arab worlds. The National Insurance Institute has decided he is not a Jew, or even a Jerusalemite, and has revoked his disability pension and health benefits. His Palestinian neighbors, and even some of his relatives, treat him as an infidel who prefers the Jewish roots of his mother, who converted to Islam, to the Arab roots of his father, Jawad Nashashibi. Siham says he defines himself as a Jew and is meticulous about fasting on Yom Kippur.

Siham Nashashibi’s troubles started after his brother, a devout Muslim who has made a pilgrimage to Mecca, told NII investigators Siham had moved to the northern Palestinian neighborhoods that are outside the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem. Since then, his disability pension has been revoked, and he is no longer entitled to medical services or to the medications he has been taking since he underwent open-heart surgery. And just to complicate this already complicated story, the Justice Ministry decided to pay for Nashashibi’s legal fees so he could sue the NII. His attorney, Adi Lustigman, says she is still having difficulty understanding how the son of a Jewish woman is not considered a Jew in the eyes of the Israeli authorities.

[…] After the Six-Day War, Esther returned to western Jerusalem and to Judaism. Siham celebrated the first Passover seder in the united city with his mother at the table of Emunah Yaron, Agnon’s daughter. The Nobel laureate, who was a pious Jew and had little affection for Arabs, sat down with them at the table.

Siham Nashashibi says his mother became a religious Jew, and was even recognized by the rabbinate as being Jewish – as indicated by her burial in the Jewish cemetery in Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul neighborhood. Her son Siham, however, was not welcomed as a Jew or Israeli citizen, and was forced to make do with the status and rights accorded to non-Jewish residents. After getting divorced four years ago, he was forced to leave his home, and lived in several sections of Jerusalem. Once the city started trying to keep Arabs from moving within the Jerusalem borders because they don’t want to be kept outside the separation fence, Nashashibi lost his right to be ill and die in a dignified manner.


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