Yesterday I went to Haifa to interview Sami Michael. You can read more about this famous Israeli author, who is listed as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in literature, here.
After finishing the interview, I recorded Sami speaking a bit about himself in Arabic. The video is below (Arabic speakers will have an opportunity to giggle when I speak a bit at the end), and below that is the short post that I wrote for the BBC's Arabic website. I'll write a long post about what I saw in Kiryat Shmona later tonight or tomorrow (truly, I will).
Sami Michael speaks in Arabic
Uploaded by Lisang
On Wednesday morning I drove up to Haifa in order to interview the Israeli author Sami Michael.
Michael was born Sallah Menasse in 1926 in Baghdad. As a teenager he
was active in the Iraqi underground Communist party and wrote for the
movement's newspaper. At the age of 21 he escaped to Iran after a
warrant was issued for his arrest; he continued his communist
activities in Iran, then emigrated in 1949 to Israel and settled in
During the 1950's and 1960's Mr. Michael wrote for Al Itihad,
a Haifa newspaper that was founded by the renowned Arab-Israeli author,
and major proponent of Jewish Arab co-existence, Emile Habibi. Today
Sami is best known for his novel “Trumpet in the Wadi,” which has been
translated into Arabic, and for his activism in the areas of peace with
Israel's neighbours and co-existence between Israel's Jews and Arabs.
Last week he was photographed for Maariv newspaper, standing in front of the bombed out building that housed the offices of Al Itihad
, the newspaper that was a symbol of Arab-Jewish co-existence. The
building was located in the Jewish-Arab Haifa neighbourhood of Wadi
Nisnas. On Sunday night several Hezbollah missiles landed in Wadi
Nisnas, causing extensive damage – including the collapse of two
residential buildings. Three people were killed – two Arabs and one Jew
- and more than 100 were injured.
I watched the news coverage of that horrible event on a
television at a hotel in Metulla, whilst sitting beside a young female
Israeli-Arab journalist from a Galilee village. We spoke together in
Hebrew about our horror at the scenes we were watching on television,
while in the background we could hear the crashing of Hezbollah
missiles that were being fired at Metulla from nearby Lebanon.
I went to interview Sami because we wanted to know
what he thought about Hassan Nasrallah's warning to Haifa's Arab
citizens to leave the city. We sat in the author's modest, light-filled
apartment that overlooked Haifa Bay and we gazed at the hills of
Lebanon and Syria on the horizon. As he spoke, Sami played with some of
the deadly metal balls that are packed into the Hezbollah missiles,
which are made in Syria. He had collected the balls in Wadi Nisnas, on
the day he was photographed there in front of the bombed out Al Itihad offices. He spoke
quietly and thoughtfully as he played with those balls that have killed
or maimed so many people. He spoke about peace and mutual recognition,
about talking instead of shooting. Our conversation was interrupted
three times by the siren announcing incoming missiles.
Three of the thousands of metal balls that are packed into each of Hezbollah's missiles. They splatter everywhere, leaving holes in cars, buildings – and people. Well over one hundred missiles have been landing in Israel every day since July 12.
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