Sunday, December 28, 2008

not to be used in (the) us

i just wanted to write quickly so that everyone knows i'm okay (after a barrage of emails). we left the center yesterday around 4:30 to join up with other groups to march in protest against the attacks that happened in gaza. just as we left the center the air was already filled with teargas? making us cough and our eyes burn, the more they watered the more they burned. there was a jeep parked at the top of the street so we went another way. and as we walked we could see the cloud of black smoke in the sky causing it. for no reason other than in anticipation of people gathering in protest of the deaths in gaza, which we should have every right to do. we met at the nativity church and then marched back up through bethlehem to the wall. along the way it was pointed out to me that there were almost 2 marches going on for the 2 different political parties. and once again i had conversations about how it seems they use these moments to further their own agendas instead of really helping the people, which seems endemic everywhere.

we were told there were soldiers up ahead waiting for us near the apartheid wall. when we arrived we kept our distance but you could see many young kids throwing rocks, and that seems to be the indicator that things will escalate. although i know that's not the best way - after being here i understand why it happens. the apartheid wall is a large ominous symbol that is almost always in view from certain parts of the city, and definitely always in awareness. i saw a young kid find some pieces and use a large rock to break them up so he had more. it's not about trying to cause harm its an attempt to express anger that has no outlet, outrage at an unfair unjust situation. then people started moving back from the apartheid wall and a sound bomb was set off and i heard it injured an international girl in the foot. after that they released tear gas. at this point we were already heading away from the apartheid wall but the cloud came fast, and soon we were running. a man ran next to me and offered me some essential oils(?) to breath in to help offset the affects of it. we saw some of the canisters and i was told it is clearly printed on the side - "not to be used in the US", though my guess is it's probably made there. our lovely tax dollars at work.

i don't know the exact figures - but US aid to israel, especially in the form of military has rose steadily for the last few years - this is what it is used for. to bomb, kill, and disrupt all aspects of forming a healthy society within the occupied territories.

as the protest was dispersed - not by force but by the people feeling there was no more to be done - my head felt cloudy and the tract from my nose to my throat was raw. and i thought jokingly to myself - it's definitely not organic, thinking about all the people so sensitive to every little synthetic smell, people here live with this poisoning the air at the whims of another government before anything had even occurs, with the intention of keeping them from gathering and voicing dissent. but instead of turning back or staying in their homes they cover their faces with kufiyas, in the manner which we have been conditioned to recognize as the image of a terrorist (i hope you think of that next time - maybe it is just so they could breath!)

after the protest i went with dr. Abdelfattah to his home for an amazingly delicious dinner of labeneh (w/zataar), humous, falafel, soup,... it was so good. i met his 5 children and his lovely wife. he lives in a beautiful home and shared with us stories of growing up in aida camp. refugee seems to have been taken out of the name commonly used here because many have been born here and now it is like another little town just outside bethlehem. he told me many stories i hope to relay. each one demonstrating the cruel inhumanity of occupation. his wife is from jerusalem and they keep an apartment there and their children go to school there so they can "prove" that she has reason to keep her ID card. if they don't they will have many troubles be able to travel outside the territories into jerusalem and "israel", and especially unable to travel outside the country except through jordan - whose borders are also under israeli military control now. no one with a palestinian identity is allowed to travel through tel aviv if the want to leave the country they must make arrangements (and hope to pass) through a bordering country, but as israel tightens its strangle hold on their movements the other countries are also lessening their freedom to move. they rented their apartment in jerusalem in 2000 and it took until 2006 for him to have a permit to live there. he told me of palestinian businesses as well. the import and export of all goods is controlled by israel so when trying to sell to other countries it becomes quite hard. israeli regulations lets the goods sit sometimes for YEARS! until it is no longer good or it ruins the ability to do business because exporting cannot be garunteed in any given time - and then they charge them for a storage fee! sickening.

he also told me stories of having to wait hours to travel 200 meters when his children were young. making them get in and out of the cars with a 3 year old and a 6 month old (at the time). because they can set up arbitrary check points anywhere they want.

also when he was studying in school he got a scholarship to go to france for a month, they refused to give him the permit and eventually when he was allowed to go they gave him a full scholarship so he lived and studied in france for 9 years. my friend aluk asked if he had thought about staying there instead of returning. and he responded as i have heard others who have and do have the chance to leave - they love their home and they want help those who don't have the same opportunity so that one day they may, they come back in the hopes of fostering a change. he has a nephew of 19 who has never seen jerusalem (al-quds), has never been allowed to leave. so although futile - throwing rocks at the symbol of imprisonment has to be seen for what it is. a small act of resistance against forces that daily make you feel powerless to create the society you wish to live in, one of peace and freedom. isn't that what we all want and strive for? unfortunately when we are led to believe that's what we have we find it hard to understand the acts of those who live in awareness that they are controlled.

The death toll raised to 205. i heard it's the most deaths in one day in years since the conflict began. there has been declared 3 days of mourning so the training i was to do here will have to be postponed and i have yet to see how it will affect the training and travel to ramallah.

so once again i'm so thankful that they have let spend this time with them the last few days and have taught me so much. i hope this all finds you well and know that i am safe, though my chest definitely feels the affects from whatever i inhaled last night. and hopefully this struggle can continue peacefully without more deaths and find an end that restores the humanity, which has been lost - insha'allah.

No comments:

Post a Comment