Friday, January 2, 2009

on my way here

when i was in al-quds (jerusalem) the man at the internet cafe, mohammad, and i talked of many things. he says he enjoys meeting people like me who are interested in learning the truth about the situation. he invited me to return if i make it through there again so he can show me the area of abu dis. people live in jail there. it is literally imprisoned by the israeli military - if they need to leave they have to call the military to open the gates. and often times they come only when they want to. so once again people are trapped in their own homes, at the whims of others. i hope to meet up and talk with him more sometime. when i left he told me of a place to eat before leaving to meet hary in tel aviv.

on my way to the pizza place that has been family run for the last 35 years by an arab man and his family who have lived their entire lives in al-quds, i saw an israeli military person stopping everyone who looked arabic and making them show them their i.d. and when i arrived at the shop their was a group of 10-12 military people harassing people trying to pass. they would stop them and ask for their i.d.'s and even if they provided the right credential they took many over to the corner and made them stand up against the wall and pat them down. if they asked why the military person elbowed them in the face or stomach and told them to shut up. a woman asked for the soldier who was harassing her for his name, he said michal (sp?) and said "but they just call me rambo". i heard them tell others - "fuck you" or "you son of a bitch" as they hit them while searching them, for no reason other than their arabic features and names.

when i got into the pizza place, the owner was understably upset by the events right outside his place of business. i asked him if their was a reason, he said they had been doing this since the war in gaza began. i watched what happened outside and everytime they looked at me i just returned with a scowl. i tried to take some pictures but the light was too low for many of them to turn out. i got to have many conversations with the owner and his family, he turned on the news and 12 more had died earlier that day from more bombings in gaza. we talked again about the skewed coverage that occurs in the media. it's the same with any war - we keep track of every number of deaths of the side we support but the others remain countless and nameless. so far - (and it may be more today) 412 palestinians have been killed in gaza and 1800 wounded, 4 israelis have been killed and 6 wounded. the hospitals do not have the means to care for them all. and he expressed what so many others have, who knows if we will be here next year or even tomorrow. he told me of a man yesterday who had been stopped in the same manner and asked for his i.d. the man was 35 and had a beard. the guard who stopped him said this isn't you, where's the beard in the picture. before the man could protest the soldier took him around the corner and beat him. when he was done he threw the i.d back at him and said "my mistake, i guess it is you" and laughed.

after relating the stories and watching the news together the owner said "what can we do?", "what you hear and what you see are 2 different things, please tell others".

and so i sit in a kibbutz in north israel and feel like i am betraying all those i have met in some way. on my ride to tel aviv i was in a shared taxi between a paramilitary person and a security guard, the radio played "heal the world" by micheal jackson. how fucking ironic. i (almost) felt shame telling my palestinian friends that i was headed to tel aviv and then to stay in a kibbutz, knowing that many of them can't ever (and will probably never want to) go to these places that are symbols against their humanity and home.

everyone i have met hear has asked my experiences in israel so far, when i tell them where i have been and the warmth of my experiences they seem a little confused, but aren't you scared to travel there? i tell them no and let them know of the people i have met and the friends i have made. they live thinking all palestinians are wanting to harm them, and with the fear of missiles from hamas and hezbollah, in this land where anything can happen. the family i am staying with are amazing, hary, his wife channah, and their oldest daughter have all been so nice and give me a different perspective, i look forward to what i will learn from them as well. their son david is in the army and he comes home to visit tonight.

people are people and we need to start treating everyone with respect and supporting life not guided by label and dogmatic ideologies.


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  2. erin, thanks for being eyes and a heart for people like me who can't even imagine what it's like over there. sending lots of love.