Ex-Palestinian prisoner teaches Hebrew, tolerance

By Mohammed Daraghmeh

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, April 6 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

He now teaches Hebrew once a week at a private Christian high school in a nearby village. During a recent lesson, he asked students to write the names of their village on the whiteboard in Hebrew, and count and recite the days of the week. Meticulously, he corrected their pronunciation.

Mansour remains active in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a tiny PLO faction, but favors a peace agreement with Israel. He is careful not to run afoul of Shin Bet restrictions; a violation could force him to serve the remaining two years of his term.

Mansour frequently passes near the scene of Mizrahi's killing — a chicken farm where Mansour worked after school as a teenager. On Oct. 29, 1993, he showed three older teens where they could lie in wait for Mizrahi. Mizrahi, a resident of a nearby settlement, had come in the past to buy eggs and did so again that day. Mansour said the group planned to take Mizrahi hostage but he struggled and his attackers stabbed him to death. Mansour says he did not stab Mizrahi himself.

The older boys put Mizrahi's body in the trunk of his car, drove off and burned the vehicle to destroy evidence while Mansour remained behind, pretending to have been the victim of a robbery. He said he was arrested the same day and later confessed.

Mansour said that at the time, just a month after Israel and the PLO recognized each other in a precursor to peace talks, he believed that violence would further hasten the end of Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands.

Mansour said prison changed him. Behind bars, he learned Hebrew, read for hours each day and wrote three novels. While remaining a Palestinian nationalist, he began to see the world, including Israelis, in a more complex way.

"I lived through a very hard experience," he said. "This gave me insight and a belief in the cause, but more importantly that justice should be carried out in a humane and a just way."

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