From Kit's Blog
Saturday, June 23, 2007
... still exists. Beautiful vineyards die because Palestinian farmers
don't have access to their land. Roads close, leaving only ONE way,
loaded with watch towers and surveillance cameras, to enter rural
towns. Some checkpoints only allow Israeli license plates to pass
through. The Wall-- LordaMercy, the Wall. Imagine those big grey walls
that separate highways from people's backyards, except the wall
encompasses a whole entire population. They say the Wall will be
completed in a few months, which means the entire West Bank area
completely enclosed. In the next 10 years, they expect Bethlehem to be
just as dense as the Gaza Strip.
Imagine never being able to leave the town you live in, unless you
have "special permission" aka HELLA MONEY or are attending
school/work. Imagine living on beautiful hillsides and farming on
terraces that your family has worked on for thousands of years, then
watching huge settlements being illegally built and getting taken to
court simply for making a greenhouse tent.
And CHECK THIS. Imagine living in an ancient city with fences and
barbed wire ABOVE you because Israeli's created "illegal settlements"
on top of your city and purposely aim water and garbage at you. And
when Israeli/Jewish kids kick, hit, and disrespect you, you have to
sit there and take it or else the soldier, who is standing right there
watching you, will arrest you if you fight back.
Today I went to Hebron and visited the Ibrahimi mosque, the Old City,
and drove along the countryside between Bethlehem and Hebron. It was
beautiful, minus the Wall, barbed wire fences, military tanks, and
watch towers. We met with the "Temporary International Presence in
Hebron" (TIPH) and the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee.
The TIPH is an organization that both the Palestinian and Israeli
government asked for. They are there to provide reports on incidents,
patrol the area, and help provide ways for sustainable development.
The sad thing is, their reports are not open to the public, and the
questions asked of the Israeli gov't are often unanswered.
The Rehab committee won an award for Reconstruction of the Old City.
They truly do amazing work on the buildings that were destroyed during
the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre in February 1994. They also work towards
sustainable development, but are restricted to the terms of the
The question is why. Why do Israeli's build illegal settlements
purposely on "Palestinian land", (literally on top of or right next
to,) when they could easily build on "their own" land? Why encompass
the entire West Bank and prevent Palestinians from leaving? Why make
it so hard for Palestinians to do things as simple as fixing a water
pipe or having access to a faster route?
The answer is the same reason why the U.S. invaded Iraq. The same
reason why "random agricultural checks" stop people of color. The same
reason why everyone in my group walked right past customs and I got
held and questioned for an hour. "National Security." Or as the TIPH
woman said, to make life more difficult than it already is.
On a happier note, I smoked hookah again with the boys last night and
we talked for hours.. about America, Americans, daily life, the
Intifada, the separation between Christian/Muslim (10 years ago, they
were all equal,) education, family, culture... I've been sleeping
there the last few nights because Valentina (8y/o) asked me to sleep
in her room. Her older sister is gone for 3 weeks and she's afraid to
sleep alone, and she says, "I love you!" Their mom is SO sweet and
makes embroidery dresses/purses/pillows/etc. Their family owns two
shops on the street and the boys all work from 8am to 11pm-- crazy!
I asked them how they felt about tourists, and they said they like
them. They enjoy getting to know other cultures, (I'm assuming because
they don't have the opportunities to experience them outside of the
Wall.) The sad thing was Bethlehem was expected to be a major tourist
city, but because of the Intifadas, the shops are empty. Basim and
Wasim said that life now is much more quieter. They used to have
curfews imposed by the Israelis and the sound of gunshots, rockets,
and airplanes was a 24/7 thing. "It was kind of fun, there was always
something to do," said Wasim (22y/o), "when I went to school in Egypt,
I was like this is too quiet. I will go crazy." There are times I feel
guilty about my freedom or embarrassed about my ignorance, but I have
to respect how they can just laugh and joke about the crazy times
they've lived through.
Yesterday I walked around the Old City in Jerusalem with Heidi. David
wasn't allowed past the checkpoint because he forgot his passport. We
found the Wailing Wall and walked on top of the wall encompassing the
Old City. We took pictures with Israeli soldiers carrying HUGE ass
guns and saw a camel chillin outside the Jafa Gate. We're going back
on Saturday with the group and a guided tour.
We start Arabic classes on Monday- I'm soooo juiced. I feel WAY too
much at home already. When I was talking to my host family last night,
I said "The foreigners come in on Monday," (meaning the other 2 in the
program,) and we laughed and laughed, and I STILL laugh today whenever
I think about it. But for real, after long days of touring, we pull up
to Itseeh street and it's home sweet home. I already know this this
time will pass too fast and I will be sad as fuck to leave.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
a story from a story
(from Paulo Coelho's Veronika Decides to Die)
"A powerful wizard, who wanted to destroy an entire kingdom, placed a
magic potion in the wall from which all the inhabitants drank. Whoever
drank that water would go mad.
"The following morning, the whole population drank from the well and
they all went mad, apart from the king and his family, who had a well
set aside for them alone, which the magician had not managed to
poison. The king was worried and tried to control the population by
issuing a series of edicts governing security and public health. The
policemen and the inspectors, however, had also drunk the poisoned
water, and they thought the king's decisions were absurd and resolved
to take no notice of them.
"When the inhabitants of the kingdom heard these decrees, they became
convinced that the king had gone mad and was now giving nonsensical
orders. They marched on the castle and called for his abdication.
"In despair, the king prepared to step down from the throne, but the
queen stopped him, saying: 'Let us go and drink from the communal
well. Then we will be the same as them.'
"And that was what they did: The king and the queen drank the water of
madness and immediately began talking nonsense. Their subjects
repented at once; now that the king was displaying such wisdom, why
not allow him to continue ruling the country?
"The country continued to live in peace, although its inhabitants
behaved very differently* from those of its neighbors. And the king
was able to govern until the end of his days."
The other night we had a lecture by Mr. Husam Jubran about his method
of nonviolence training. What stuck out to me was how he said that
Palestinians and foreigners usually don't agree on each other's terms
of nonviolence and therefore, can not work side by side.
When foreigners, fed by the media, came in and tried to tell the
Palestinians, "don't use violence, we will teach you nonviolence,"
people like Mr. Jubran thought they were bullshit. In his eyes, they
were using nonviolence the whole time; in the forms of graffiti,
giving up their Israeli ID's, not paying taxes, etc.
Though both sides choose to not pick up arms and equally require the
same amount of organization and networking, the way they go about
their movements seems "crazy" to each another. Westerners understand
that in order to achieve a result, they must work WITH the system.
Abide by and respect the law first, negotiate and reach a compromise
later. Palestinians, on the other hand, struggle to BREAK this circle
of obedience, before they are completely run off their own land.
[["the right to return home is inalienable."]]
Our comfort zones, our social values, our government's laws, our
media's propaganda, are the poison's in our water. Our water, the
water of the West, is that which is privileged. The water of Palestine
is under occupation.
Going back to Mr. Jubran's lecture. Even if I drank from the
Palestinian well, if I studied the history and lived with the
Palestinian culture for years, this fight will never be mine. So many
foreigners have died, been held hostage, and dedicated their lives to
the cause-- but what did it do? Nothing, except give a bad rep.
Palestine is still under occupation.
(From what I've learned,) what creates change is a growth in demand
and/or friction. Chico Mendez stood in front of trees to preserve the
work and land of his people. Gandhi made and ate his own salt to
boycott his colonizer. Though these acts may seem small to some,
illegal to foreigners, and crazy as portrayed by the media, they are
actually breaking the cycle of obedience (Mr. Jubran's term.) This
slows the superpower's process in achieving their masterplan.
Not to say that foreigners and the media can't help at all. They help
in bringing some kind of attention, good and bad, to an issue.
However, the bottom line is this: Foreigners CANNOT just walk in and
tell a culture what they're doing wrong or how to fix their problems.
(activists-nonviolence, doctors-hygiene, Mormons-salvation... If it
ain't broke, don't fix it!) What foreigners fail to understand and
what the media fails to portray is that each culture utilizes its own
intuition to achieve its OWN desired result within the complexity of
its OWN conflict.
The lesson is this: before you criticize a "corrupt" government, a
group of "terrorists," a "madman"; take into account the water from
which they drink. Or as Dr. Poethig says, "be aware of your
I am a hypocrite. I judge people, I make hasty rationalizations. I'm
only human. People thought it was dangerous, stupid, "crazy," for me
to come out here.... With that said, I will end this blog by going
back to Paulo Coehlo's story...
"I want to continue being crazy, living my life the way I dream it,
and not the way other people want it to be. Do you know what exists
"People who have all drunk from the same well.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
... coz i have to...
" it's not much of a life.. it's not a life at all. we do nothing, sit
in a cafe for hours. we can't leave without getting asked for our
ID's, stopped at checkpoints, we hear the guns every night. every
night. it never stops. "
-has it gotten any better at all?
" it only gets worse. "
There is truly NOTHING you can possibly say in response to a
Palestinian who looks you in the eyes and speaks these words with such
intensity. Especially when they're the same age as you, smile the same
smile you, have the same thirst for life and adventure as you.
I've been here a month and have yet to come up with anything to say
back. All I can do is remember their eyes and their words, pray for
them, and tell their stories to whoever else will listen. Not cause I
want to, but cause I have to. People need to know.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Leaving Egypt, entering Israel after a week in Jordan and Egypt
FIVE HOURS!!!! (and reflection)
(3 hours after interrogation, a bit tired of sitting around.)
"Why are you standing there?"
-Just waiting for you to finish talking.
"What, I can talk now."
-The last bus to Jerusalem is at 4pm.
-So I'm wondering when I can leave.
"When the security process is finished."
-When will it be finished?
"I can't tell you."
-Why am I being put through a security process?
"I can't tell you."
"I don't WANT to tell you."
(2 hours later, at exactly 4pm, they let me go with no explanation, whatsoever.)
I called the embassy some time during all this and all they said was
that it's normal security procedure but for some reason mine was
taking particularly long. I watched HELLA people go through their
"security procedure," wait 30-60min, then leave. I never wanted to
throw my cellphone at someone's head so bad in my life.
I'm assuming it has to do with me staying in Bethlehem for 2 months
and learning Arabic. I was extremely polite the whole time and
truthful. The other people being held back were Palestinian families,
people with political backgrounds, and people who said they were going
to visit Bethlehem.
Security my ass. Racism's a bitch.
Back in the West Bank
(after a few days of calming down and reflecting...)
What I experienced that day was merely a taste, 1/1000, of the shit
Palestinians have to live through. The anger at the Israeli holding my
passport, the frustration at her lack of sense/humanity, the
hopelessness of the system that labels and does injustice. 5 hours is
nothing compared to waiting 10 hours just to travel around the West
Bank, or DAYS just to leave Gaza. And I was lucky enough to be
released, whereas many Palestinians just get turned around.
I was regularly phoning George back at Siraj during it all, and he was
convinced that they were either going to not let me back in Israel, or
only give a week-long visa. Luckily I walked away just fine. I'm going
to France next week to visit my family-- I'm almost positive that I'll
get the same if not worst problems leaving/coming in.
Friday, August 03, 2007
"the right to return home is inalienable."
Heard a lot of opinions, in person/writing/film, read a lot of news/propaganda.
Bottom line is every Palestinian has hope. Hope that one day they can
"return to their land." To some, this means their homes that have been
sold to Israelis, to others it means rebuilding homes that have been
demolished. For the rest, it means obtaining their right to travel
freely, see their families, drive on roads that have been closed. They
have the ownership papers to their land and homes, they have
generations of family farming on their land. And they refuse to give
up, they refuse to settle for the current conditions. But they do
admit it will take a long, LONG time.
Can't help but imagine if something like this happened to us, meaning,
"U.S." What if California, (with its demographics rapidly changing to
that of the young&brown rather than the current middleaged&white) was
designated to be the "national homeland" of an oppressed people.
Immigrants start pouring in, with financial aid and military force
incomparable to our own, all residents evacuated to Mexico or other
parts of the world. We'd be forced to sit there and watch strangers
claim our land as their's, call our foods and customs their own, and
those left in California forced to live without rights and labelled
"terrorist" for attempting to hold on to what was rightfully our's to
Maybe then, a few more people would care about what's going on in Falastin.