Sunday, May 27, 2007

Dispatch number three: looking back at the last week: tea, trees and tragedy

More from my friend in Palestine:
i have begun to write this three times. it just doesn't feel right to throw just anything on the page, because i'm not only writing about myself and my concerns, vis-a-vis palestine. dare i say, i'm writing about a struggle and i feel i need a little more deliberation, a touch more consideration, before i throw up on the page and think "dispatch done."

a terrible melancholia wafts through palestine. this abjection is tied to occupation, continuing land confiscation and the endless threat of house demolition. people resist everyday, going about their daily lives surrounded by settlements, checkpoints and roads they are not permitted to drive upon. they farm, they work, they garden, they struggle.this is what prevents the depression from sinking into despondency. the will to continue. this is palestinian land, after all. and they plan to stay on it.

this friday past i went out to pay for the bread we order from a neighbouring household, and to return the tray it arrived in. this, of course, involved having shaay, or tea, sweetened with a good dose of sugar. we sat just inside the door, hiding from the heavy afternoon sun. palestinian hospitality never rests. it is warm and inviting even when you can not speak the same language. umm s--- taught me 'mother' - imm, and 'sister' - uht. we'll see how long it takes me to actually remember these few words. i carry a small book of arabic terms in my pocket...of course, they are not in the colloquial spoken here, and my ability to pronounce words i am unfamiliar with is still in development... so mostly i listen, try to understand the cadences and the body language.

after a time i made a brief trip to the nearest store to purchase water and milk. walking back to the house i found abu and umm r---. i was, of course, invited to more shaay. considering my usual dose back home, this is never a problem for me to accept. abu r---recognized me from my last visit which was three years ago. we used to run into each other on the roof where we both went for a smoke. we spoke, primarily in english. he mentioned the obvious, that life here is even harder with the withholding of palestinian tax revenues by israeli authorities... the strikes by teachers who have been paid sporadically if at all because of the freezing of funding to the palestinian government by the european union, canada, ad nauseum... he is, as i remember him from last time, melancholy. life goes on, sometimes bitterly. but it does go on. as we watched his youngest son on his small bike with training wheels ride ramshackle about the patio, abu r--- remarked that "he doesn't yet know the future that awaits him." by future he means occupation, jail and perhaps worse. after all, s---'s oldest brother is still in prison. abu r--- had also spent many years in jail. that is why there is a large gap in age between the two brothers.

it has been quiet in the house. my last time here which was my first time was spent going primarily to demonstrations in one village where they are building the wall. iwps be returning to that village to catalogue house demolition orders and any demolitions that have occurred. since there are no demonstrations happening within close range, we are focussed on the more mundane and far more necessary tasks of documenting , being on hand for accompanying farmers to their land, liaising with other organizations and what ever else may come up. it may not seem as exciting but it's actually the more important part of the work.

it's also better for your lungs.

this past tuesday, b--- and i went to al-hadidiya in the jordan valley. passing through this stark and beautiful landscape, we met an'am and her husband, omar. they are bedoin farmers who herd goats and sheep and make cheese which they sell. an'a m and omar have survived two home demolitions thus far. they plan to stay on their land and will not move, like a neighbour closeby has done. this is their resistance, to continue living their lives and raising their family. nearby kies the lie of ro'i, an illegal israeli settlement are they not all illegal?) but they need an international presence, someone to document yet another demolition, whenever it may ocur.

the jordan valley is a strategic location, and one of its principal resources is water. this is key to a lot of what the israeli state does. if you control the necessary resources, you control people's lives. israeli controls the water supply in the west bank. this was one of the primary results of al-nakseh or the '67 war as it is known outside of palestine (for more in-depth info. see: Palestinian refugees in Jordan - or - Water: the Red Linel - or - Obstacles to Peace: Water). there are four checkpoints that surround and cut off the jordan valley from the rest of the west bank. palestinians who do not reside in the valley are not allowed in. those who do live in there are under increasing pressure to leave. there is a national park overlooking the valley and, surprise of surprises: palestinians are not allowed in. if people cannot see the politic at play here, i'm not sure they will ever want to see it. the blatant and persistent disctimination and injustice - all terms far too mild to describe the reality on the ground here - is ubiquitous.

also this past friday, k--- and i accompamied a farmer in hares to his land to see his trees. his land is bordered by the 12-year-old settlement of revava. he told us the land used to be lush with 600 olive trees. over the past 4-5 years, the occupation forces have uprooted 500 trees. the remaining hundred trees had been trimmed severely. what kind of people uproot trees? olive trees, famous for their branches of peace, are being butchered by army and settlers alike. i fail to see the security measures in this.

i fail, i suppose, to see a lot of things. but what i do see is a land besieged with settlers and a foreign army. because i am jewish, it is being done in my name. because i am human and believe in justice, i believe in telling the truth about palestine. and the truth is: this is not my land. nor is it the zionists' land. the truth is, it is stolen land and there is no excuse. genocide is not only the murder of a group of people, it is also the destruction of a group's identity and their history. this is a tragedy continually unfolding and this is what is going on in palestine.

we must stop it. somehow.

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