Three months ago, I had the chance to be part of a huge conference that was held in Jordan. It was a peace conference for YaLa. As any participant going, I was thrilled to be a part of something big, excited to start a new road that I hoped would make a change in myself and inspire that same change in others. I packed and headed to the airport, took the flight and was excited to be there. It all started when I was on the airplane.
Royal Jordanian Airlines is not the best airline, but they meet all the standards. However, that day there was a long delay of our flight. I was sitting in my seat and listing to music, frustrated because we had already been waiting an hour for the flight to take off. By accident, I asked the flight attendant about the flight situation in English even though there was an Arabic mid-age man sitting next to me. They explained about the delay, I relaxed and kept my headphones on. Here comes the food – the best part!
The flight attendants delivered the food to me and the man I was sitting next to, and the conversation began. He started asking me questions about my name and so on. I thought it was a normal conversation, little did I know…He asked me why I was going to Jordan. I had answered “for a conference, a peace conference”, to which he instantly asked, peace between whom? Arabs and Israelis I thought, but I saw something in his face that made me think for a second and then I decided to answer “a peace conference between all the MENA region inhabitants”. He started telling me inside information about the Yemeni army and who funds them and from where they get those funds.
I suspected that he wasn’t a good guy at all and didn’t have good intentions. However, I tried to keep the conversation normal. Then he was silent for 10 minutes and finally asked me. Do you know who am I? I answered confidently, you are ____________ (I said his name). He looked at me and answered a big fat NO. I am from “Akwan al Muslimen” (Muslim Brotherhood) and we change people like you. I was confused and asked “changing Yemenis?” He answered “changing betrayers like you, who deserve to die”. He took out a knife, pointed it towards me and said “you know that I can hurt you now”.
I was literally panicking inside, however, I kept myself strong and said “yeah and you know I can too”. Then silence took over. 15 minutes later, I got up and went to the bathroom and stayed there waiting for the flight to land. When it was landing time, I headed toward my seat. As soon as the plane landed, I raced off and thought I left this incident behind me. Unfortunately, I was mistaken.
Yesterday night, I came home and received a call from a landline number. I answered and heard the same voice – at first I didn’t really recognize it, but when he started talking about all of it, it all came flashing back to me. He said confidently: “I knew you were working with Israelis and I knew that you are a snitch and this time, I am only going to give you a chance to change yourself and be a different person and later we will see what we would do”. I COMPLETEELY FROZE AND ALMOST CRIED. I still don’t know what I will do or what will happen. He hung up and I tried to call the number back, apparently it was a public phone.
I have never been afraid like this before, he called me a snitch, but do snitches work for peace? He said “I’ll give you a second chance”, but aren’t we working for a good reason? Aren’t we working to help others to be happy and live in peace? He labeled me and threatened me because I am working with people from Israel, but aren’t we all humans? He asked me to stop what I am doing, but doesn’t he know that this is my life and I am free to do whatever I want.
Even after this chilling, horrible call, I am determined to never stop doing what I believe in, even if it costs me my life – there are a lot of people who have sacrificed for the sake of peace in the region, and I am willing to be one of them.
By a member of YaLa Young Leaders