21/7/10 - 3/8/10 104 °F
7/23 Day 3 - ICAHD, Women in Black, Demo in targeted neighborhood Sheikh Jarrah
hi ALL - Well, truth is I'm so exhausted, I have to fall into bed soon.
Went to ICAHD first where we had a 30 minute presentation then off on the bus, where we saw the differences between East and West Jerusalem, Jewish quality of life and Palestinian. It was a tremendously valuable and informative morning.
Excellent details, horrendous details. Some of them, from Mohammed:
What we learned about “illegal” building:
- 96% of Jewish permits to build (or dig a well or pave a road… are granted, less than 1% of Palestinian applications are.
- a building permit costs anywhere between $1500 and $20,000, due at the time of application.
- the application process may take years.
- if the permit is denied, as it is about 96% of the time, your application fee is not refunded.
This is why Palestinians build without permits – they can’t get them anyway, but will lose large amounts of money in the process.
- if their home is demolished, they are billed (and must pay) 8,000 shekels ($2,000) AND must pay additionally to remove the rubble.
- a demolition order may not be carried out for as long as 20 years after issuance. Palestinians with a demo order against their home live every single day knowing their home could be demolished at any moment.
A home, to Arab families, is the center of their lives. Demolishing their home is more than just tearing down their house.
Mohammed took us to a section of the Wall in East Jerusalem. Staggering. Ugly. Inhumane.
The Apartheid Wall[/b]]
Then to West Jerusalem (Jewish) to stand with Women in Black, courageous Israeli women who have stood vigil to end the occupation for 20 years. On the way two of us, Kathy and I, who both had all black on, were hissed at by a middle-aged man: "Scum!" as we went there. A young man on a motorcycle spat a large one at us, and we heard more loud honking (nasty, I found out) and finger flips than we have ever seen in Spokane. People screech ugly stuff from their cars as well. A middle aged man passed Kathy and I as we were walking (in black) to the demo, and said, loudly, "BITCH!" Another rode past on a motorcycle and spat at the women.Women in Black weekly demonstration - with motorcycle[/b]]A young man came to talk and spewed the most vile racism and media/government-generated fear, and told us that if we went into the Arab Quarter we'd be cut into pieces. Well, we've been in the Arab Quarter for 3 days, and it's just like any other city in the old world.
Then to the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian neighborhood where the people are being evicted one family at a time, their homes being given to Jewish families. At 8 a.m. a truck comes, the knock on the door, the soldiers enter the house and take everything in it, put it in the truck that is rarely seen again, and the family forced to the street, By 5:00 p.m. the Jewish family is moved in and barbecuing and dancing in front of the house (this has been witnessed).
The regular Friday demonstration calling for an end to the evictions has 700-800 people, this one organized by Israelis. I'm learning that there are indeed more than 12 people in the Israeli peace movement. It is still miniscule, and the way they are treated makes the American Peace Movement’s marginalization look like mainstreaming, but it lives.
I'm on major overload with the thousands of petty inhumanities that are daily dealt to Palestinian people. As two of us were saying tonight, it's hard to imagine that all these petty awful things that happen are anything more than the general plan for Ethnic Cleansing:
A house built with full government knowledge, without the Permit the government never gives Palestinians, and they wait until the family moves in before the deliver the demolition order to them; a school built in a neighborhood that hasn't had a school to send their kids to for 10 years, but the government deals with it so slowly that it's now been building for six years and still not open while the nearby settlement gets built in a year; land taken and crops destroyed because it hasn't been farmed for a year, when in fact the olive trees were bulldozed a year ago or the Wall is built to keep a farmer from his land, and so he loses it) There are millions of those petty and not so petty things every single day. If I told you all we learned today, I'd be up till morning writing it.
The dehumanizing inhumanity, to think that someone actually sat in a room with other people to plan… it's far too systematic to be the result of just a whole lot of ugly people. This is not about “bad apples”. This is about a system that is rotten to the core! If a nation is founded in racism and chooses to continue it rather than to change it, how can it be otherwise?
I'm going to bed not just exhausted, but with a heavy, heavy heart tonight. It's one thing to have known every one of these things for years, but altogether another to hear someone telling it who has experienced it, as Nancy and Rusty know from their experience in El Salvador. It's also altogether unbelievable, that ANYONE could do these things to an entire population, except that I can see it with my own eyes. And I remember the racism of Professor Lefcourt from Gonzaga the night of our "debate". I see it and hear it in its manifestation here daily.
Luckily, we de-brief every night, and the team helps one another to hear these things and to keep them. These gentle people keep me sane.
Tomorrow we go to the Negev to visit with Bedouin families, who are "unregistered" with Israel though they are Israeli citizens who live inside the Green Line. This means their villages have no sewage, no water, no schools (even worse than in some Palestinian areas elsewhere). They also cannot vote, in this "only democracy in the Middle East".
It's such a good thing we saw so many Israelis fighting at least the occupation today - though for the most part you can go no further with that, for most see the occupation as bad for the Jews, which of course it is, but for many it's seen as the only problem. For me it isn't even the tip of the iceberg. I'm really heartsick.
Off to call Michael, and then to bed - another lucky thing, to have such fine and loving people with me.
Hugs to you all