21/7/10 - 3/8/10 104 °F
Non-violence is a living, breathing entity here. It seems as though everyone is talking about it, though I also realize that we're seeing people, Christian and Muslim both, who have already chosen non-violence. But it seems it's the only method that makes sense, since only one side has, or ever will have, the guns, and these people have already suffered so much. Not that they don't suffer when struggling non-violently. It would seem that non-violence is far more threatening to Israel than guns or stones because it brings world attention, and world support, to Palestinians.
And you hear about it all over Palestine: Bi'ilin, Ni'hilin, Beit Sahour - list is long. Israel has hundreds of strong Palestinian non-violence leaders in prison and shows no sign of releasing them, whether or not they have been charged. It's part of why the Jewish Settlers have such a visceral hatred for the HRWs - because they watch (and interfere) and witness. The worst thing that could happen to Israel's plan to take all of this land for just one people is for the world to see what they are doing here. Many signs say "Germany 1937". I think it's 1940.
Promised you less turmoil and trials, didn't I? Well, there goes that promise... Should have known better - the trip is not finished yet.
Have seen videos of settler children attacking Palestinian children, adults calling them “Dogs” (a very nasty insult) and “Jew-hater” and standing back while the children wield clubs, rocks, spit, kicks, blows. Those might be the most disturbing things I've ever seen in all these years. The hatred was so palpable, the children totally out of control, screaming, furiously attacking. Unbelievable.
Juxtaposed with one of the most common accusations in the states, that Palestinians teach their children to hate, your mind reels. Everything here seems to stand "truth" on its head. We hear again and again "we want to live. We want to raise out children. We don't care if there is one state or two. We don't care whether we live with Jews or not. We just want to live and be free."
I've not heard one word of hatred of Jews here. I can't imagine it doesn't exist, for you cannot live with this level of torment every day of your life without having harsh feelings for the people responsible for your suffering, but still I hear no hatred spoken, and see none manifest from Palestinians. The only hatred I've seen, and I've seen a lot of it, is that of the Jewish settlers and some of the Jewish Israelis in Jerusalem, and it is deep.
They also express hatred of the Human Rights Workers HRW (the internationals) who stand and walk to protect the children. "Arab-lover" "Nazi Arab-lover" "scum". They call HRWs Nazis as they themselves wall people in, destroy their homes and water sources, beat and torture people for no reason except they were Arab... You know the list.
...on it's head, on it's head.
We've been told, and we've seen, how soldiers protect only the settlers, how, if a settler attacks a Palestinian the Palestinian is usually arrested - for being attacked, though some phony charge is made, or perhaps none at all, just an arrest. Palestinians have also told us that "soldiers don't want trouble and sometimes they protect the Palestinians", but we've seen videos and heard from HRWs that most of the time they simply stand back and let it happen. Several of us on this delegation believe the only mission of the soldiers is to protect settlers, but that occasionally a soldier whose conscience is still active might intervene to help a Palestinian child.
Bottom line is that YOU SIMPLY HAVE TO SEE THIS TO BELIEVE IT.
Did I tell you about watching Palestinian men with their children? I've seen them kissing their babies as they walk on the street holding them, watched a father interrupt a conversation with a group of adults to stoop and have a real conversation with his little girl, seen them just adore them, watched as a little boy entered a room, saw his father, and seeing his face literally light up as he ran to him to be lifted into the air.
Stereotypes fade, reality enters.
I have a chance to go take a very rare rest before we go on mosque patrol so will end this. We'll participate this afternoon in the Open Shuhadah Street demonstration (did I tell you about that yet? If not, please Google YouTube to find it. Well worth watching) and later will tail a Settler Tour of the Old City. I had thought those were temporarily stopped, but apparently not. Settlers come through every week ostensibly to see what they're missing by not having full ownership, but in actuality it's to further harass, break wares, and remind Palestinians just who has the power here.
whoops - just lost my rest time. Kids are getting out of summer school at Qurtuba school, so off we go.
Back from “school patrol” uneventful except for the group of 12-13 year old settler boys who passed Tomasz and I and told us in very calm voices that we were Nazis. The irony, of course, was lost on them.
Random sights, sounds:
the man on the corner at the CPT apartment in the Old City in Hebron, squeezing heavenly orange or apple juice from an old hand squeezer. The oranges were warm of course, standing in the sun all day, but every time I passed him (several times a day) I bought a glass of juice. Three shekels - about 20 Cents. Sometimes bought glasses for the young folks if I was with them. It was heavenly, sweet.
The muezzin calling prayer 5 times a day, experienced alternately by many of us non Muslims as familiar, comforting in its dependability, and sometimes irritating when it came in the middle of a meeting or a conversation.
The Old City in both Hebron and Jerusalem is a Souk - sometimes covered walkways, sometimes not covered, always very narrow and very crowded, Always stiflingly hot but far cooler than outside the City in the streets.
Hebron Old City, with three settlements and plans for a fourth in the middle of it, with the settlements being built above Palestinian life below them. Settlements in Hebron Old City take the form of large new apartment complexes. Guess who lost their homes to make way.
There are streets that have netting over them to catch the garbage and eggs and shit (yes, shit) the settlers throw out the windows at Palestinians. Two of our group got hit by soapy water tossed out on them as they passed by. They were lucky it wasn't urine, which is also tossed. (And the settler David with whom we spoke in Efrata went on at some length about what barbarians Arabs are, and how dirty - another dispatch).
The Al Ibrahimi Mosque, ancient, ancient. Once a mosque, then a church, then a synagogue, then a mosque again. This is the mosque where the American-Israeli fanatic Dr. Baruch Goldstein entered loaded with guns at prayer time, and as men and young boys were prostrated in prayer, sprayed them with bullets. He killed 29 men as they knelt to pray, and injured 170 others before survivors beat him to death. Israeli soldiers stationed at the door did not intervene.
Rage followed, and in the aftermath, as a way of "apologizing" to the Palestinian community, Israel took 64% of their mosque and turned it back into a synagogue. Israeli justice.
Weekly demonstration: Open Shuhada Street!
I watched as a soldier approached a Palestinian man in front of me and in spoke to him in a low voice, waving his finger in front of his face (I have the photos). Less than a minute later, after the soldier had moved several feet away, the Palestinian man pointed the soldier out and shouted "this soldier accused me of assaulting him. I did not assault him." I shouted "we have pictures of what happened! We have pictures!" The soldier stood there with what I interpreted as an embarrassed look on his face. Minutes later the soldiers attempted to arrest a journalist with a camera but the journalist got away. A day in the life of Palestine...
WRITE UP SHUHADAH STREET DEMO HERE