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July 7th, 2009
Heart of Jenin
Epilogue: Where Are They Now?

Here’s an update on Ismael Khatib and the three children featured in the film whose lives were saved by Khatib’s decision to donate his son’s organs. Ahmed’s organs were donated to six people in total, including the three pictured below, plus an Israeli woman and teenage girl who chose not to appear in the film, and eight-month-old Osher, who did not survive the transplant.

Ismael Khatib

After the death of his son Ahmed, Ismael Khatib opened the Ahmed Khatib Center for Peace to provide children from the Jenin refugee camp with an alternative to life on the streets. A filmmaking course became one of the center’s most popular programs, but there was no place to show the films that the children produced.

With the help of Heart of Jenin filmmaker Marcus Vetter, Khatib launched an effort to restore and reopen Cinema Jenin, a movie theater that had been closed since 1987, to provide such a venue.

The children at the center have already started rebuilding the cinema. They hope to show their first films in the new theater later this summer. Click here to see some of their films.

Samah Gadban

Samah is now in 10th grade at the local high school in her small village of Pkiin in northern Israel. She still has routine checkups at the same hospital, the Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah-Tikva, but has not had any major complications from the heart transplant and continues to be healthy and strong.


Mohamed Kabua

Mohamed is now in 2nd grade at a school in his Bedouin village in the Negev Desert in Israel. He remains a very active boy, helping his father on their farm and in their small rural home.


Menuha Rivka Levinson

Menuha Rivka is now in 2nd grade in Jerusalem. She has occasional check-ups at the Hadasa Ein-Karem Hospital in Jerusalem, but remains healthy.


  • Susan Desmond

    As Anne Frank said, “I believe that all people are basically good.” The father of the boy did a wonderful thing. The soldier mourns for the death of the boy. The Israelis want peace; not war where child and innocents die. When those in the Arab world who want to see the destruction of the sovereign State of Israel the violence will stop. The Israelis want more than anything to sit down at the table and carve out a meaningful peace. Shalom, Saalam

  • Rockell

    This was such a wonderful act!God Bless Ismael Khatib and may peace live among these nations.

  • v

    The world will always be a better place with more beings like Ismael Khatib.

  • Abid Omar

    I had tears in my eyes the whole show, my hearts goes to Mr. Khatib, GOD bless him. As an Israeli Palestinain I know for a fact the majority of both sides want peace. I just pray for peace, It’s so sad and heart breaking to see this madness in one of the most beautiful places in the whole globe. Peace, shalom, Saalam.

  • Rachelle Pachtman

    What a magnificent film and incredible story. If we reach into ourselves, we can all connect with our compassion. This film reinforces again for me that we all have so much more in common than not — that we are one and the same.

  • June Sano

    This is a remarkable documentary. I hope the producer will get permission by all parties to enter this very special,(if it has not been done yet) magnificent show in film festivals. It deserves international kudos and recognition.

  • Seth Cohen

    Remarkable indeed. I too hope that the film get recognition worldwide. Toronto Film Festival is a great place to premier the film.

  • rebecca

    The film is noteworthy for showing, from the father’s perspective, how to turn a tragedy into an opportunity to give life to other children; that children are the main victims in this conflict–all the needless loss of young life on both sides is a constant reminder of the failure of adults to compromise for the sake of their children’s future. This film gives us hope that there are rare occassions where the human spirit triumphs over political and religious expectations

  • Jacob Herbold

    This was a great documentary. Raw. If only you could remove the barriers and all the children could play together.

  • Saad

    Susan Desmond: To date Israel has not stopped their illegal settlements in the West Bank or the blockade of regular aid to Gaza. It is one thing to say that you want peace but actions are so much nicer. This man has made an important action that he wants peace. It is for the rest of us to follow his action.

    Israeli Army makes shirts promoting the killing of Pregnant Palestinian Women in Gaza http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QesYVHBsGFE
    Holocaust Survivor Protests Israeli Massacre in Gaza http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaDGHB_pB5s
    Kidnapping human rights workers by Israel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-g0xtN_DdY

  • Caryn

    This documentary really moved me. Mr. Khatib is a wonderful man and, like other reviewers, I had a tear in my eye through much of the documentary. I also commend Samah and her family for recognizing what an unbelievable gift they received. I am wondering now if there is a way to donate to Mr. Khatib’s school? I will keep browsing for an answer…

  • Sam

    The first response, from Ms. Desmond, claims all Jews in Israel want peace, really?

    When entire political parties there want more Arab land, lots more! And if you don’t care about Muslim’s then remember that many Arab’s losing land, getting killed by the IDF, are Christians!

    In these modern days you would hope that major conflicts, involving millions, many billions of dollars, lasting decades, would not be influenced by ancient claims like being the Chosen People, which takes one hell of a big ego to believe in. While I generally believe in the Bible historians have shown it to be edited and changed over thousands of years, at best reflecting male-dominated tribal concepts. And of course there can be such different views of the same words.

    If the major Israeli parties continue to cling to idea’s right out of comic books, then they will never have peace for their people. The Arabs need to be more flexible also. Meanwhile the US should not give Israel blind support or more money.

  • Sam

    Has this really not been updated since July 2009 ? Would it really take such an effort ?

  • Terry

    Mr. & Mrs. Ismael Khatib… if you are reading this… May Allah / God Bless You & Your Family Always. I will never forget you and your son and your story. Your kindness to your fellow man is legendary in your own time. ~terry

    As we here know, Mr. & Mrs. Ismael Khatib are two people with so much caring and empathy for others. While watching the documentary I was so moved by their act of supreme brotherhood and humanity in the face of hate and violence. I would think Mr. & Mrs. Ismael Khatib would (and should) receive a Nobel Peace Prize, and World-wide recognition and gratitude for displaying in actions (and not mere words) their own wish for Peace and Goodwill while simultaneously suffering profound and lasting grief. If everyone on all sides of the conflict in Palestine/Israel who proclaimed to want Peace would act in a similar manner… Peace would not be just a dream.

    I also commend the supporters of the Khatibs on their decision to do what some would find unthinkable. Allah/God must surely find them to be ‘His Children’. And very pleased.

    It is also encouraging to see so much support for them in discussion forums like this one. Everyone counts. Perhaps in time we can all find a way to add our own touch of Brotherhood to this troubled area, until one day the good things will surpass the bad Forever.

    And may Allah’s / God’s Blessings be with the Khatibs always. Truly. The World is a better and warmer place because of them.

    Peace & Love,
    Terry

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