I believe we could go beyond your idea of mourning [individuals killed on all sides during the conflict]. You inspired me. What about opening a mourning house in Ramallah like we do for dead people (3 days mourning). The title will be “The Death of International Law in Palestine.”
The idea would be that someone from every country would come and pay condolences. This would be a great advocacy campaign and I am sure it will capture the attention of media and the international community. I know where to host this and I have enough people and resources to implement it. You will be the main guest at this event.
What do you think?
—Fadia Daibes Murad in an email to me on May 30, 2007
Fadia Daibes Murad was a world recognized Palestinian water expert, young, vibrant, articulate, with a recent PhD in hydrology. She published a tome about Palestine water rights and won an Edberg Award in 2005 for contribution to peace in the Middle East through her work on water rights law. She emphasized including using water as a catalyst for peace in the Middle East. She had embarked on a path to bring the water rights’ issue to world attention thru the international court system. She told me, I’m beyond writing about the conditions. I want solutions, and I feel the main route to solutions is thru adjudication by international bodies.
I agreed, and since one of my main photographic themes is hydropolitics, I offered to supply her with visuals. I could imagine working closely with her as she prepared a case for equitable distribution of water rights between Palestinians and Israelis. Not to be, not with Fadia, she is now dead.
Fareed, a Palestinian justice activist and friend, wrote me that she’d died. When I first read his email in the presence of my daughter, Joey, I wept and swore, expressing my usual combination of grief and rage. Returning to Ramallah from attending a water conference in Istanbul Turkey, she died in a car crash. Robin, a colleague of mine, informed me that “It was a rainy day and a car skidded and hit her vehicle. She was killed instantly by a blow to the spine, though she was wearing a belt.” (Curious that water led to her death.) When I told my good friend Y about this—who commiserated fully, remembering who Fadia is and what she meant to me—she asked, Any chance of Israeli involvement? I’d not considered this, now I might, but Fadia was probably not a threat to Israel at this stage, not yet.
Or was she?
We met for the first time in 2006 when Bassam of Pronto Café in Ramallah told me about her. On my last trip in 2007-08, meeting at the Pronto, excited to see her again, she gave me numerous hydropolitics’ leads. At the end of our rich conversation I mentioned not yet finding an apartment. She said, Oh, I think I can help with this. Because of Fadia I had virtually free shared housing for most of my 3-month sojourn—a testament to her generosity.
We’d remained in touch. She always loyally responded to my questions about facts and interpretations while I prepared my slide shows and photo exhibits. For my upcoming trip this summer I’d planned to write her, asking her for more leads and for help finding housing. Erased—bluntly and suddenly erased. I am distraught.
In an email to me she’d suggested organizing a House of Mourning in Ramallah to bemoan the death of international law in Palestine. Perhaps I can create the equivalent facility for mourning her death on this blog.
I encourage all who knew her or knew of her and were affected by her to comment to this blog about your personal story related to Fadia.
As Joe Hill, the International Workers of the World organizer, declared shortly before his execution by the state of Utah for his activism, Don’t mourn, organize! For me this means to continue my photo projects with new fervor, especially about water rights. I hope others are encouraged by her story to pursue their own struggles for justice in Palestine/Israel.
The Case of Gaza Strip in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
By Dr. Fadia Daibes Murad, March 19, 2009, The Gender Water Alliance Statement to the 5th World Water Forum: Water in aftermath of Disaster or Conflict: Transition from Complex Emergencies to Normality