Saturday, April 07, 2018

A eulogy for Yaser Murtaja

Yasser Murtaja, with a cat sitting on his camera.
A eulogy by Anas N. Almassri, posted on his Facebook page.
While at work today, I was translating the news of deaths and casualties from the border areas. The name of a dear friend, Yaser Murtaja, a husband, a father, and a young photojournalist, was on the list. Yaser was an ambitious entrepreneur; he co-built one of Gaza's most thriving media companies, عين ميديا Ain Media. Through his eyes, the lens of his camera, and the quality work of his company, Yaser documented stories of pain but also of hope, of misery but also of joy and success. Yaser was there on popular celebrations and university graduation ceremonies, yet never just as a photojournalist; he was everybody's wish for a humorous friend--time with Yaser was a genuine bliss. The largest number of his selfies are with happy graduating men and women, with talented children, with singing girls, with loving friends, and satisfied clients. He was furthermore a good friend of nature and the environment; through his camera, I myself restored my appreciation of the beauty of nature in Gaza even when it has grown to be too polluted, now far uglier with the tragic death of him, a modest, kind and very helpful friend. 
Yaser did not deserve the live fire that sent his young and pure soul to eternal sleep, his laughter to forced cessation, and his talent to a melancholy end. I do not agree with the idea of continuing these demonstrations, or even holding them this way in the first place; it is stupid and truly life-demeaning, but I also do not agree with the way Israeli forces are using their mighty power to fatally wound Palestinians. The Palestinians, the Israelis, the free and responsible citizens of the globe should all equally be alarmed by the death and injury of more people like Yaser, who now left his young family in lasting grief and insurmountable trauma of missing him. What is happening is, yes, dehumanizing to the Palestinians, but it is even more so to the Israeli snipers who shoot to kill. I quote my friend Mohammed Alhammami in wondering about "what the soldier was thinking. What kind of upbringing he had, what kind of series of life events that led him to this very moment [the shooting of a civilian protected under legal and moral terms], where he thought it was completely fine to shoot and kill another human being. How dehumanizing is this?" 
May this bloodshed stop. May peace take over. and may Yaser's soul rest in warmth, comfort and joy in a better place. Amen!
For more on his life, see this article from Al Jazeera - Yaser Murtaja's Dreams of Travelling.html.

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