Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

As Good as It Gets

March 2003

There was a face I knew! It was the coffee seller that my friend ordered from, and introduced with respect: “This gentleman is an accountant, but when times got bad and he couldn’t find appropriate work, he began to sell coffee.” The man was humble and welcoming, smiling inside an enormous purple parka, and adding, out of excess generosity, enough cardamom pods to make the little glass of coffee nearly atomic.

Here in one of Jenin’s several internet cafes, the coffee man was smiling from the screen of a website, alongside a brief but potent article by one Nick Pretzlik. Nick Pretzlik. I did not recognize the name. I assumed he was one of the roughly university-aged volunteers who come to Palestine to give of their energies and ears and hearts. Excitedly, I printed the photo and sloshed through the puddles to find the coffee seller with his purple parka protecting him from the dismal rain. His face lit up as he took the photo, offering no explanation as to the photographer.

October 2003

Several months and several borders later, I received a forwarded article about a family living under occupation. The writer was Nick Pretzlik, and he reached the heart of the matter and the heart of the reader with such clarity and compassion that I felt I must write to thank him. As suggested, I wrote to his wife, Ursula, who became an immediate friend and invited me to visit them during a stopover in London en route to Beirut. By this time, I had forgotten the photo of the Jenin man. Nick Pretzlik occurred to me as a new name.

December 2003

If I loved Nick’s articles, I loved Nick even more in person. So positive, gracious, at once down to earth and upbeat, light-footed and light-hearted. He seemed to embrace everyone in an aura of mirth and honesty and present possibilities. You felt that he was giving each one of you a little boost to your hopes and a gentle widening of your horizons.

After dinner, we finally got to talking about our various works in Palestine. Something he said took misty form in my mind, and I asked, “Was it you who took a photo of the coffee seller in downtown Jenin? I printed that photo for him and he was so happy!” This was a Eureka moment. “That solves the mystery!” exclaimed Nick. He related that when he returned to Jenin another time, our mutual friend pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and unfolded it to reveal Nick’s portrait of him. As before, he offered no explanation as to how he came upon the photo. Nick became closely acquainted with this man who had a number of family difficulties, and he helped him.

January 2004

Shortly after our first encounter, Nick and Ursula came to Beirut, where we met and included more new friends in our endeavors and Palestine-related family. We found more coincidences and shared awarenesses, and I quickly came to regard these wonderful, positive, practical people as the truest of friends.

They were wending their way to the West Bank. One never knows what will ensue on a trip to occupied Palestine, but Nick and Ursula happily agreed to visit a family home of mine and take some assistance, if they were able to get through. We went our various ways and one night while in `Ayn al-Hilwa Refugee Camp, I dreamt that I was in Jenin Refugee Camp, introducing two visitors to my Jenin family. The next morning, in real life, I received word that Nick and Ursula had met my friends and delivered the gift. My dream come true.

And Nick kept on writing persistently, attractively, humanely, using sound arguments–as if he were listening to an opponent and suggesting, respectfully, another view. He asked only a realistic apprehension of conditions and a search for normal justice.

In his participatory way, Nick encouraged me, too, in my writings about Palestine. I was honored by a few words he wrote in response to an essay: “That’s as good as it gets.”

Nick is as good as you can get. Nick’s energy and outlook and decisions to tell the untold stories are, to me, present and will endure.

Thank you, Nick, for your smile and wit and grace and all that goes with them.

Annie C. Higgins specializes in Arabic and Islamic studies, and is currently doing research in Jenin, Occupied Palestine.

 

http://nickpretzlik.com/

 

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
David Yearsley
Shock-and-Awe Inside Oracle Arena
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail