January 7, 2013

Finding Hope for Humanity in the Heart of Jenin. ~ Wendy Keslick

Photo: Ahmed Elzway

Even when it hurts, choosing the path of wisdom over the path of vengeance can make all the difference.

I recently watched the documentary film the Heart of Jenin. It was one of those soul-stirring films that even weeks after viewing, the story keeps replaying in my mind—when I am cooking, driving, and yes, I am honest enough to admit, sometimes even during my yoga practice.

It is a an incredibly powerful and raw film that tells the story of Ahmed Khatib, a Palestinian boy, who at the age of 12 was killed in the West Bank city of Jenin. His tragic death came at such a young age when an Israeli solider incorrectly thought that the toy gun in the child’s hand was a Kalashnikov.

In the breadth of violence that sometimes seems to plague humanity this could have easily been written off as just another sad story, or even more cynically, simply collateral damage resulting from one of the most heated conflict regions of the world.

Perhaps it would grab a few seconds of interest on an international news channel.

However, the response by Ahmed’s family, is beyond newsworthiness—it is a lesson from which all of humanity can learn and evolve.

In the hours after Ahmed’s death and clearly acting from a place of higher consciousness, his parents decided to transmute their grief and suffering into a gift of life by donating his organs to six Israelis. Then two years later, to honor the connection between his son and the donor recipients, Ahmed’s father, Ismael, departed on a journey to visit three of the children whose lives were saved—a Bedouin boy who received a kidney, an Orthodox Jewish girl who received his other kidney and a Druze girl who received his heart.

The trip was not easy, as he had to deal with the harsh realities of traveling to northern Israel, the Negev desert and then finally to Jerusalem. There were issues at checkpoints, moments of dealing with prejudices that are so deeply-rooted and endless emotional turmoil—both highs and lows.

In this film we witness the inner struggle of the father of the Orthodox Jewish girl, as his long held beliefs were called into question now that his daughter’s life has been spared as a result of receiving the heart of a Palestinian. This undoubtedly challenged and strained him within the core of his being.

Ismael teaches us a lesson in compassion, empathy, the power of love and the human spirit.

What will we do with this lesson that he so unselfishly gave to this world? It is my hope that all will come to know the story of his family and be witness to the reality that separation is an illusion. When “oneness and forgiveness” becomes the mantra of humanity—in our thoughts, words and deeds—we will truly be on the path towards peace.


“I see Ahmed in each of these children. It as if he is among them. Children have nothing to do with the battle between us and the Israelis.”

~ Ismael Khatib

“Without peace the killing will keep the killing will continue—the killing of children, Palestinians and Israelis will continue. Making peace shouldn’t be so hard, in my opinion peace shouldn’t be so hard.”

~ Ismael Khatib


Wendy Keslick is a massage therapist and after practicing yoga for over 12 years she has finally enrolled in a yoga teacher training program. Her spiritual journey includes yoga, her devotion to Rosicrucian AMORC studies and being part of the conversation of our evolving humanity.  Borderline obsessions include organic and natural living, vegetarianism and veganism, social justice issues, documentaries and current events.  She is determined to learn Arabic in this lifetime. Her daughter, international travel, exploring other cultures and green smoothies are her passions.

She also founded a nonprofit called Children Creating Bridges.  Volunteering for this organization has taken her to Syria to be part of three medical delegations to help with the Iraqi refugee crisis.


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Ed: Kate B.

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