I apoligiz for not having an entry for the past few days and i won't be able to post gain until tuesday...
Right now I am in Nazareth with our group and we are overlooking a valley where Jesus grew up and also where Mary was told by an angel that she was going to give birth the Divine. Talk about one hell of a check-up.
We talk about what we are seeing and hearing everyday, all the time. My ability to understand what is happening is getting better but its painful to hold all of this. Really, I shoulnd't say "but"....I should say "and" because I think too often we say "this oppression is happening and so forth BUT.." and we let our actions and others off the hook when we should be saying "and".."tihs is oppression is horriable, its painful to process AND we have stay committed". I say this because I don't have to live here everyday and experience the occupation. I don't have soliders shooting my friends and I all the time. I don't have restritions on my movement, where I can live, who I can marry, what job I can have. I'm getting an education. Ability to grow food. I can fight for my dignity and the dignity of others without fear of losing my life.
So to feel some deep pain, confusion, and frustration at the occupation for a few days....it's just a few days. It's crazy to think "oh this is so hard" because really, in compariason to the life-squelching fear and pain what Palestinians experience and feel everyday, and the ucomfortablity that Isreali's feel, my discomfort right now cannot be a reason to disengage. Our discomfort can't be reason to disengage. There is joy in finding traction in tragedy and moving through it. Well, not joy exactly...but definitely a grounding sense of humanity. I feel truly alive because I'm recognizing my ability to be effective in this conflict and in others.
One way that I am finding to be effective is by connecting this to other issues around the world and especially, in the U.S. Privitization, movement restrictions, walls, fear, lack of education, healthcare, police brutality, the list goes on and we can find so many similar forms of the effects of settler colonialism in our own country that we need to address. I am really looking forward to returning to Olympia in the States and deepening connections of understanding between these manifestations in order to work together acros issues and work on deconstructing the systems. I am really feeling like we have to break apart what feed s and support these systems so that they can't manifest another conflict of oppressor and oppressed elsewhere right now or in the future.
So what have we been doing for the past few days? I am going to give short descritptions to give an overview and the next post I do will have more of my opinion and anaylsis.
Tent of Nations: This is an olive and wine grape farm near Bethlehem whose owner, Dahar, has been in court for over 20 years with the Isaeli government. Surrounded by settlements on all sides that are populated by Jewish immigrants who were sponsored by Israel and intl. Jewish funds, they have been trying to kick him off his land for 20 years. Bringing him to court to have to show his deeds, writing him a blank check, harassing him, his workers and family and destroying parts of his infrastructure, they make daily life very hard for him. We helped with the olive harvest and learned about his peacecamp that he has with Arab and Jewish children every summer. We also learned that when he has made friends with settlers who question the policies and actions of their communities around him...they haced harrassment in their settlement communities and and in some cases, been forced to move out as well.
So he relies on volunteer help from internationals to not only help him patrol his fields, but also to learn and spread the ord at how hard it is to retain his ability to be Palestinian by staying on his inherited land. It is an act of resistance to just survive and to harvest olives. They are called "zatoon" in Arabic. I also really want to learn more Arabic now!
Then we visited the Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem of about 15,000. This camps has been here since 1948 when theearly forces of the Israeli army forcibly evicted people from their homes (al-Nakba or "catastrophe") to create the state of Israel. Check out youtube videos online of violence being done to the residents by the Israeli military (IDF) today. We met with members who help do a youth and community program called Lylac and toured the camp with them while they explained the conditions of poverty they live and the constant threat of violence by the state they face, all supposdly cause they are "terrorists". I think we need to redefine terrorism if children under the age of 16 are being locked away in jail for months and years on end while Israeli youth can't be locked away in jail for terrorist acts like lighting Palestinians on fire with moltov cocktails. Hmmm...looks like the power dynaics are pretty unequal.
There will be much more information about the refugee issue in the next post.
LAter that night we met with Israli Young Professionals and asked them some direct questions about the occupations, their reasons for supporting it, the reality of Israeli politics and how hard it is to influence their government (similar to our issue here in the States) and more about their expeirence in the military since it is requred that every Israeli citizen serve 3 years, 18-21, in the military unless they are physicallly or mentally unable or Ultra next Othorodox.
Next day we walked around the west side of Jersusalem and noticed how different the municpial budgets were....no trash, lightrail systems, flourishing businesses etc. Then we drove down south about 2 miles away from Gaza and met with a member of Kibbutz Urim who is part of the more radical Israeli left. It was very enlightening and more on that later cause I am running out of time to type this before we have to get on the bus.
Nexy day we met with another member of a different kibbutz, Kibbutz Metzer which was settled between two Palestinian communities but splits the two between the Green line so the seperation wall seperates the two communities from each other. This is also the kibbutz that experienced the the murder of 5 of their residents by a Palestinian militant some years ago. He has tried to work on creating a olive oil cooperative business in some sense between the two communitie beause now with the wall, there is an extremely high unemployment rate in the Palestinin town behidn the wall but the Israeli government won't allow it. We had some really interesting talks with him about his experience and I wish we coudl have met with the members of the town.
Now we are in Nazareth and met with more human rights activists and learned about Palestinians and other Arab discrimination within Israel and some students from the Nazareth Academic Insitutute.
Ok we have ot get on the bus but I will post more on Tuesday or Wednesday!!!