The Heart of Jenin Print
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 29 July 2010 08:48

CNN is covering an amazing story from a place where hope has been extinguished for many decades.

The Heart of Jenin.  The story of a Palestinian father, Ismael Khatib, who made a remarkable decision when his 12 year old son, Ahmed, was shot by Israeli soldiers who thought his toy gun was the real thing.  With the nudge of a wise male nurse, he agreed to have his son's organs donated to six other children.  Among the recipients were a Druze girl with heart failure, a Beduoin boy with kidney failure, and an Orthodox Jewish little girl in Jerusalem.

Two years later, the film makers shot Ismael, who is traveling across military and cultural lines, to visit all three children on the second anniversary of his son's death.  He is clearly moved to see the three children now healthy (and incredibly cute), whose lives were saved by his son's donations.  The tense meeting between the Jewish and Palestinian father is facilitated by his Hebrew speaking Israeli Arab cousin, who clearly has the heart of a peace-maker.

The resulting film was called "The Heart of Jenin".  This is a moving and thought provoking film and you can see a long excerpt here. You will be really glad you took the time.  Three men all made critical choices:  the nurse, who gently encouraged the donations, the father who choose to express his grief through giving new life, and the cousin, who used his bilingual and bicultural skills to bridge the gap between two men who, except for this tragedy, would never, ever have encountered each other in peace.  The journey remains difficult and partial and ambiguous but more has been healed than the bodies of the three children.  And the ripples are spreading.

Now, Ismael, has founded a center for the children of Jenin which offers them an alternative to life on the street.  Among the things the center offers is a film-making course.  Ismael and the film makers have partnered in restoring the only movie theatre in Jenin, his city of 70,000, which will open with a 3 day film festival.  The feature file, naturally, is the "The Heart of Jenin".

Although organ transplants aren't covered by name in the traditional list of the corporal works of mercy, I don't think there is any question that this Muslim father's choice was in the spirit of the Beatitudes:

"Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?

When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?

When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'

And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'"

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