Crash in Zanzibar kills Neve Shalom educator, son

Hijazi and his son were killed in a car accident in which his wife Maram was injured.

MDA 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
MDA 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Adam Hijazi and his father Ahmad of Wahat al-Salam – Neve Shalom (a cooperative village of Jews and Israeli Arabs, sandwiched halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv along Road 1) were killed in a car accident on Monday afternoon in Zanzibar, in which mother and wife Maram was injured.
The older 18-year-old son, Issam, had stayed home during the Id al-Fitr holiday.
Hijazi, principal of the Oasis for Peace community high school, was known by his colleagues and friends as a pillar of unity among the different peoples that populate the community and its schools.
Earlier on Monday, peers of soon-to-be fourth grader Adam Hijazi had spoken to their friend over Skype from his African vacation in Zanzibar with his mom and dad.
“He told them he [was] having a good time, he was having so much fun, he [didn’t] want to come back,” Reem Nashef, a Wahat al-Salam – Neve Shalom primary school teacher told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday evening.
According to Nashef, Ahmed “Hijazi was a neighbor, he was a well-educated person. He was a very good speaker for the village, a peace activist.
“He knew how to speak with Arab and Israeli youth about the Arab and Israeli conflict.”
As teachers, Nashef said she and her colleagues received extensive training from Hijazi on how to deal with the conflict in their classrooms.
“He was one of the outstanding persons in the village to do this work,” she said.
Eyas Shbeta, the general manager of the community, said he has known Hijazi for years, “from the moment he arrived here” at age 17 and began working as a volunteer.
Afterwards, Hijazi studied at the Hebrew University and returned to become involved with many projects in the village.
Shbeta described Hijazi as “open in his opinions” and very understanding of other people.
“He was a very central person for Neve Shalom,” Shbeta told the Post. “We miss him very much.”
Hijazi’s younger son, Adam, was likewise quite beloved by community members.
Nashef, who was Adam’s science teacher, described him as very intelligent and “the kind of boy who didn’t consider himself a young boy – he considered himself a big boy.”
“He communicated with everybody,” she said. “He was a young adult boy, he loved life and loved people.”
Adam was a social “star” of the school and “he played with everybody,” of all ages, according to Nashef.
“I’m over 50 and he played with me,” she said.
Such a social presence was Adam in the village that the teachers sat down the other children today, from first through eighth grade, to talk to them about what happened, as a psychologist and social worker helped them through their tears, Nashef explained.
The children drew pictures for Adam’s mother and his older brother Issam. Tomorrow, the teachers will be sitting with the soon-to-be fourth graders and their parents, and the funeral for both Adam and Ahmad will take place in the village on Thursday.
By Tuesday afternoon, a photo of Hijazi and his curly-haired son appeared on the wall of the Wahat al-Salam – Neve Shalom Facebook group with both information about the accident and the comment: “It is too early for us to absorb the depth of this terrible loss and tragedy.”
An outpouring of people commented and showed their support on the wall, with over 200 shares, 79 comments and 103 likes for the photo by early evening. People wrote comments in English, Arabic and Hebrew, expressing their condolences and personal memories of the father and son. However brief their encounters with the school principal were, contributors wrote that they were “touched by his passion” and his ability to make something “united against all odds.”