Nariman Julani, who has been by her son Jamal’s side since he was brought to the
hospital in a coma early Friday morning after being brutally attacked in
downtown Jerusalem, sits with her recovering son and her husband on Wednesday
and looks at photographs of the suspects in the Hebrew newspapers.
pictures, the teenagers had lifted their handcuffed hands to hide their
“I really pity them,” says Nariman, a mother of seven children
between the ages of five and 24, of whom Jamal is the fourth. “And I pity
their mothers. Who could be proud of a child who does a thing like this?”
they grow up, they will probably be more ashamed and regret what they did,” she
says. “They’ll go to jail, and it is their futures which will be ruined, not my
son’s. Instead of learning, they’ll be in prison. Jamal became
famous for a terrible attack that he did nothing to provoke, but these young
people will be infamous.”
On Wednesday, a teenage girl was brought before
the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court in connection with the attack. The court ordered the girl held in custody
for the next three days and also extended by five days the remand of a 19-
year-old male, who was the first arrest made by police when he was brought in
for questioning on Saturday.
Over the past four days a total of eight
Jewish teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19, three of them female, were
arrested in connection to the beating. On Tuesday, the Jerusalem District Court
released one 15-year-old girl to house arrest.
A wan-looking Jamal, who
came out of his coma on Sunday, smiles sheepishly, as any shy teenager suddenly
in the spotlight would. Television crews and reporters file in and out.
Well-wishers both Jewish and Arab stop by.
Yesterday, Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu condemned the attack against him, not for the first time, and
today, President Shimon Peres said the event was intolerable and filled him with
That’s nice, notes Jamal’s father, Subhi, a kind-faced, blue-eyed
man who does home renovations – “shiputzim,” he offers in Hebrew – for a
primarily Israeli-Jewish clientele. They watch a bit of news, including Peres’s
comments, on a television in Jamal’s room in the new tower of the Hadassah
University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem. But unlike the usual
government behavior when there have been terror attacks against Jews, not even
one high-level official has come to the hospital to visit them, he
Subhi is also troubled by a story he read in today’s paper which
indicated that when one of Jamal’s friends made a call to the police station
minutes after the mob attack took place, an officer dismissed it as “just
children” and did not dispatch someone to the scene immediately.
children,” he repeats in Hebrew. “Just children who almost killed my child. In
the past, when it came to crime, the police never charged a Jew like they
charged an Arab. But this time, the attackers must go to prison, and not with a
Hussam Attiye, a friend of Jamal’s who was at the scene
of the attack but escaped without serious injury, agrees.
“If I would do
that to a Jew, I would go to jail for seven years,” he says, as he sits in
Jamal’s room at a laptop, scanning the coverage of the incident on various
Jamal and his friends spend a lot of time on their computers,
says Nariman; her son is studious and not the type to go out all that much. They
were only out late that night because it was the end of Ramadan and getting
close to Id al-Fitr, when people who fast often go out late in the evening to
enjoy a walk and shop for gifts or new clothes.
A few days a week, Attiye
works at a restaurant near Jaffa Gate, and Jamal, at a retirement home in
Arnona. The person Jamal worked for there, a man named Ezra who has declined
requests to be interviewed at length, even came to visit Jamal soon after the
attack, his parents said.
“Ezra said, ‘But your son Jamal is such a good
boy, this is terrible,’” Nariman recalls. “To me, it shows that other people
know he’s a good young man, that he would never start trouble.”
thankful as well to a young man named Amit, a medical student on the scene, who
resuscitated Jamal and probably saved his life.
Jamal, for his part, does
not remember a thing from the attack. He has no memory of anything between the
walk with friends on Thursday and waking up in the hospital on Sunday. He is
still undergoing tests to see if he might have suffered any long-term damage
from the beating, Nariman says, as she feels for the raised bumps in the back of
his head, where he was struck and kicked.
As his mother, she is relieved
about her son’s miraculous amazing recovery so far, but still worried. He was
supposed to have started school today, in this, his important senior year of
high school. Most east Jerusalem schools started their new year on Wednesday,
several days ahead of Israel’s state schools. Jamal is a good student and is
planning to study for the tawjihi, a matriculation certificate that is necessary
for continuing on to university.
Even if Jamal is a little foggy, he
seems to have retained a sense of humor: When a visitor tells him he might need
patience (saber) in the recovery process, he points to the cabinet near his bed
where his family has stashed some snacks and fruit and says “Oh, we have saber,”
– meaning sabra fruit, eliciting laughter from the others. (In Arabic, the same
word has both meanings.) His mother hopes the attack is not a sign of things
deteriorating in Jerusalem. But many in their neighborhood, Ras el-Amud, are
avoiding downtown west Jerusalem, where the attack happened, particularly at
“I myself won’t go there unless I really have to, and I don’t
really have many reasons to, except maybe paying a bill or going to my health
care office,” Nariman says. “But we live in one city. No one wants to live in
fear and be on edge all the time. How can we live like that?” “We are residents
of Jerusalem and there has to be equality and justice for all of us.”
Hartman contributed to this report.