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Victims Who Turned to Perpetrators
von Anis Hamadeh, May 2005
German Original

Summer was already changing into fall, when one evening Samir stood at the window and watched the clouds gathering above the Hansa metropole. Wasn't this a gentle thunder he heard from over there? He opened the window a little and listened around in the city noises. The sticky outdoor air entered the room in fine batches after having passed Samir's face. He stood still there, lurking. A crack, a remote crash, increasing humidity. His big toe started to scrape on the parquet floor. How long would it take? Ten minutes? Thirty?

Samir closed the window and fetched the large light grey microfiber trousers from out of the cupboard, followed by the rain jacket in matching color, he wore it over the T-shirt. Soon he corded up the sports shoes and disappeared behind the apartment door.

It was already dark outside. Warm air was coming around the hedge in breezes, carrying cool drops. So there would also be wind, wonderful wind! He opened his arms while walking in order to be able to capture the weather better. There was almost nobody on the street. Samir accelerated his paces as if he could encourage the forces of nature by doing so. He wanted a big weather, this was what he was here for. He wanted the hot air to be shredded by the rain, that mighty thunderclouds gave their concert. He wanted to sense it. He wanted to call his demon and wrestle with him.

Why did things happen the way they happened? What are the causes of injustice, how do conflicts come into being? What demon was this with whom we had to fight?

Samir reached the Isebek canal at the Hoheluft bridge and detected an increasing frequency of raindrops when a gust climbed up the street, accompanied by a lightning. He lifted the eyebrows and there already followed a full, substancial thunder. "You have eaten from the Tree of Knowledge", the wind said. Samir nodded. He strolled through Ise Street, under the subway bridge. He wanted to resist evil, therefore he had to recognize it.

Samir was afraid of thinking about evil. What if he came to the conclusion that he was concerned himself, that his own behavior was concerned. Didn't he suffer enough? Some water showers hit his leg from the side and he breathed the cooled air into his lungs, cooled air like from the water pipe.

For a long time he had seen in his father a man who did not accept the reality of some issues. Someone whose statements at times were doubtful and whose actions were not always plausible. It was his deficiencies on which Samir had focussed. But what about the deep layer? Samir remembered a talk with his uncle Fawzi in Nablus. Fawzi had mentioned in a smaller circle that Sidi, i.e. grandfather, was a hard punisher sometimes. Only this one time and without details the lad had heard about the darker side of his grandfather. In the end, it was this clue which changed Samir's image of his father. Suddenly things made sense which before did not seem to make any sense at all. His father must in former times have been experienced the same situation himself. Now he saw a little boy in his father who was beaten by his father. This little boy was unable to understand the reason why he had to suffer this, but he learned to live with it. It would never have occurred to him to blame his father for it, simply because it was the father...

Samir left the shelter of the bridge and entered the weather straight. He returned, wanted to walk the same way one more time, this time wet. With his movements he attempted to devil the elements around him and to consume them at the same time. It was not an unpleasant rain, it was a cleansing rain. Samir did not understand the few passers-by who he met on the way, as they hastily searched for a shelter. Didn't these people feel the refreshing power that was emitting here and that only had to be collected?

With the energy of the tempest flooding through his body Samir imagined himself to be in the position of this little boy who had been treated to badly without ever really having realized this fact. He must have taken this feeling of humiliation and pain as a part of the normal world and did not further think about it. What would the future of this boy look like? Where to go with the pain? Samir entered the Eppendorfer Road. He was now entirely drenched and soaking wet, yet it was not cold. The street was empty, he could completely devote himself to the powers around, embrace them with all the senses and move to them.

Where to go with the pain? This boy would desert his father one day, but the pain would remain. He would grow up, take up a job, try his luck. Because finally he wants to unfold, to chisel his true self out of the stone of life and to polish it, on his way to fulfilment. He finds a woman and founds a family. When his own son is grown out of the childhood perpetual thoughts from far, strange times begin to thump in his head. He becomes aggressive, does not understand the reason himself, but he needs a vent now, urgently. And there it happens.

Now his own son is lying there in the corner, cranked from the pain and whining because of the hits and kicks. The man goes into his room and thinks back of his father whom he has been unable to understand. Now he had done it, too, now he could understand his father in a way. Apparantly the pain has never disappeared, but the bond between father and son seemed to be kept up.

Samir concentrated on the splashing rain and spurred it on by mentally formulating that up to this level he was well able to keep up. Maybe the rain was unable to give more? A roaring frontal thunder attracted his attention. He was looking in the direction when several mighty lightnings opened the sky which seemed to attempt to devour the whole city.

Samir streched his body and reached out to the sky for the sky to absorb him. He was united with his father now, he ran through the clouds and followed his traces exactly. He felt how he was now in the heart of the problem and instinctively looked out for something he conceptualized as a lever he could throw to stop the machine. He was fallen through a time-window and able to change the past. Not the external events, nobody could change them afterwards. But the mentalities and the resulting action patterns, they had opened for direct access.

In this way he found an understanding for his father without having to become a perpetrator himself. Samir sensed that this was a major issue. Come on, old boy, he said to himself, continue the journey. Get on! He strolled through the moist clouds in concentration. What a strange truth was this that he had grabbed by the hair here? This was more than an individual destiny, this was a mechanism that could turn victims with open wounds to perpetrators.

Samir knew both: the pain and the aggression born out of the pain. He had resisted both, but was unable to get rid of either one. He was very aware of that in this moment, walking in the cloud traces of his father's, realizing the amount of similarity in the respective experiences of the two, the amount of understanding and closeness between them. Samir noticed that he had developed different conceptions of closeness and understanding in his life, different from his father's. That was a different kind of understanding when you go through the same kind of shit. It was a different kind of closeness from the one Samir knew from love.

The next thing was that he found himself near the Isebek canal. Due to the bluster around him he did not know exactly whether he was lying, sitting or standing there. The sky had spat him out again. He was stranded, he was saved, he had escaped. His forehead was dripping blood on the left side, this would leave a scar. A celestial duelling scar. Samir laughed and watched the blood instantly being rinsed away by the rain and vanishing in light red. He grabbed the handrail, his knees slightly shivering, and took several deep breaths.

He resumed that victims do not necessarily become perpetrators, for here he had found an alternative way to master the aggressions. So there were alternatives. Slowly he tramped on. In the following lightning Samir thought he could recognize a gap between the trivial observation of the chain of violence in which the weak was victimized by the strong to the effect that aggression was handed down like a chain on the one hand and the scope of the knowledge that there was a mechanism that systematically brought victims into the danger of becoming perpetrators themselves, on the other. Perpetrators perhaps of lesser crimes than those they themselves had been exposed to before as victims. And still perpetrators. People who ignored the fact that they could not just do what they wanted only because they were able to bring reasons for their actions. Such people would also accept wars with a parallel dramaturgy.

What a heavy blow for all victims, for they had to carry the additional burdon of constantly protecting themselves against the inner perpetrator. They have to make an additional effort in order to keep the balance. Not like those who never have been beaten. Who had an easy childhood. For those it is easy to keep the balance. They do not own this thorn that tortures them at night, in a demanding way.

Why hadn't we heard anything about all this? In school, in the families, on TV? Why hadn't we been warned? Whenever we thought of victims this element was not a part of our associations. This feature, this danger Samir was now perceiving so clearly within himself, it seemed to just be there without words, without shape, like a secret.

He now went on the Hoheluftchaussee in the direction of the Grindelhof. The weather was not over yet. How could someone be a victim and at the same time a perpetrator? How should such a person be treated, as a victim, as a perpetrator, neutrally, in alternation, how? How to talk with them? He passed the big cinema which braved the masses of water and he remembered the film "Clockwerk Orange", a classic in which a brutal perpetrator in the second part of the film suffered the same tortures he had brought upon others before. This led to his purification.

Samir ran and ran, planting his feet firmly against the winds. He did not need to have his father feel the same tortures for the father had already experienced them. Samir did something else, he gave a belated meaning to all this pain. Not a justification, but at least a meaning. For something had to be done so that the thorn could step out of the wound.

In the country of his fathers there was a lot of violence, an above-average amount of violence. For in addition to the family tragedies there was the old conflict between Jews and Arabs, between Jewish Israelis and Arab Palestinians. This conflict was so grave that it was inflicted upon hundreds of thousands of families, confronting them with hate. The Jews, too, needed a meaning after World War II, in order to live on, and they found it in the idea of a secure Jewish state and the notion of a well-fortified valiant citizen of this state. Everything else had been secondary or irrelevant. But how were we to assess the situation today, with the knowledge we had today?

Samir thought of his father. How should he deal with him now? Was it necessary at all to ponder about this or would it work out by itself? He sensed closeness again, after all these years of alienation. He had a feeling that the situation was not as hopeless and complicated as it seemed. The rain decreased. Within minutes there was complete silence. Samir shook the water out of his clothes, paused for a while and then returned home. When he fell asleep he imagined a peach-yellow sun as it rises hot above the city. Maybe tomorrow already.


Continued in Part 3: "Humiliation Leads to Alienation"

Index page: Samir's Adventures