Thursday, February 13, 2014

Kfar Saba and Qalquilya

Kfar Saba and Qalquilya,

We left at around 9 from Anata check point, the weather was already hot.
For the first time, I had the opportunity to see the other side of the road on 443 to Modiin.
Fred was explaining all the way, and it is amazing how things turn out to be. The reality is too hard that I feel numb.
With all what he said, one thing was so difficult for me to just let pass through my memory, that the Israelis steal olive trees and sell them in the market for something up to 6000 shekels for a 200 year old tree.
I was so sad, I wished they only cut and kill those trees.
But uprooting them and planting them somewhere else, was so unbelievable for me.
Not that I should be surprised, the whole country was gone this way.
I felt my eyes filled with tears as I imagined those trees planted in an Israeli park or backyard, planting a new fact on the ground, that their presence in this land is as old as this living tree.
Anyway,
We were received in Kfar Saba by the vice deputy mayor, a nice looking man who loves music and culture. He is a typical labor party person. He started by speaking about the water, and said how Kfar Saba and Qalquilya share the same natural resources, such as the water we were drinking now; he said that the wall was built after an incident of shooting to an Israeli girl by a gunman from Qalquilya.
He had wrong information about when the first intifada started; he was saying that the two people lived happily until the first intifada broke in 1982-83.
He also wished that the two cities would be one big city, and there would be no borders but they needed security to their people.
He said that the city made a phenomenal music festival where their neighbors from Tireh came ……….
I couldn’t help but ask a question, when he talked about terrorist attacks that the wall stopped, I said that the wall doesn’t stop any attack, he said that he agreed, and the people don’t move freely through a check point or a gate that opens at dawn for two hours and close by sunset, this is not the kind of movement you would imagine having for your people.
I was angry on this act of denial of how much real those people on the other side are. How much they don’t even care.
As an act of solidarity, we had lunch in an ARAB restaurant in Kfar Saba.
The guy who served us was a jerk, because I sat on a separate table with Garry and Abraham the driver. There was no place left for one person, so I saw with Abraham, and Garry offered to sit with us. It wasn’t acceptable for the waiter because we consumed a table.
Anyway, it wasn’t the best thing for me to sit opposite to the driver watching him eat, but the man needed to eat, and it wasn’t right to leave him sitting outside as a dog waiting for the leftovers.
I was already feeling sleepy, I barely slept for 3 hours last night, and the weather was so hot. We walked through the city of Kfar Saba, very clean and spacious and lots of OLD OLIVE TREES.
We went to a settlement, called alfe menach, inside the west bank.
The settlement is on a hilltop, with a big swimming pool and a beautiful landscape, and very quiet.
There was a settler COWBOY waiting for us , he looked funny with the way he was dressed , a pistol to his side and a cowboy hat ,and spoke perfect English and tried to look as cool as possible .
The first thing he said was that h e didn’t know if he was the right person to address the group far from speaking English. And the moment he started a well planned and prepared presentation, I wondered how much thought before he said that word, did he spend preparing that LEGAL presentation.
He started by saying and continued discussing all the U.N articles and resolutions, and the difference between the accords and Security Council resolutions.
It was so alluding and bullshitting.
He was asking questions and answering them. I hacked in and said then Israel doesn’t exist if the UN resolution 181 is irrelevant.
He didn’t like me; I didn’t like him at all. It was really annoying to hear him speak.
Many people in the group hated the way he was speaking, they gave him negative remarks, especially in the way he addressed the group, as if he knew everything and we were a bunch of ignorant who had no idea what the international law is about, and of course he is the bright guy lecturing us.
Some members in the group found it was ven more irritating that they decide not to stay.
I really wanted to leave, i wanted to scream , but since I was there I thought the best I did is to piss him of .
I wished to scream so loudly, to him, and to all of them, to that entire fucking world, just look around to what you are doing to those people down that hill or behind it, just open your fucking eyes and look. These are humans, they have the same running blood, and they want to live as much as you want to live.
Stop lying to yourself and to the world
Stop lying to your humanity.
It didn’t matter much for me if it was his right to say what he had to say, I didn’t care.
We were not in the Security Council discussing this; we were there on the ground,
It is absolutely different.
We left to the villages around Qalquilya, we went to a village called IMETIN, it could mean um itteen (figs) or um maten (two nations), a sudden feeling of serenity entered my body as we were passing through the village.
This is a real village, with those old stones, wadis, up hills, the smell was even different, although it was big and we could see people everywhere, especially youngsters and kids, but it was so surreal.
We were received at the community center, which seems to be new, with a feast of people, youth, men, and kids, the village council, the Mayer the mukhtar... to my surprise there was a woman sitting waiting for us, a good looking woman with no veil . The whole atmosphere was pleasant, we were hearing about their suffering, the water problem, the electricity.
Villages living on limited generator of electricity, still use water through tanks, with very limited access.
In the second village, Hajja, there was no electricity because the generator broke off last night.
It was saddening, so depressing,
But the people were so nice, so hospitable,
It kills me .and as I write this I can't stop my tears.
What ever is happening to the Palestinian people is so unfair, when you see people who just want to live, who with all the oppression, the agitation they live in, they are still hopeful, they just want to have a life.
Just a life, a normal life.
These people don’t have access to proper electricity, who the hell in this century have such a problem, and worse, a few meters away, in the settlements, in all Israeli cities, they can't even imagine what it means. It could not even be a possibility to even feel the lack of water or electricity. In one of the villages, they don’t have sewage system, which led to water contamination and amoebae infections to the children.
And people were so kind to us, thinking that our presence would make a difference.
Maybe it made some difference; they found some people to share with them their human sufferings.
This is not about people living in poverty or famine or ignorance, it is about people who have the skills and capabilities to run respectful lives, but they are denied that access to their natural rights for survival.
When villages with agricultural based economy, can't use their natural water resource to water their plants.
When they cannot get a connection to electricity and the main generator is standing at the end of the village.
People in this land are denied access to life.
As simple as these few words may mean, as hard it is for me to absorb it.
I can't just forget about those miseries, those subjugated, repressed lives and just go on in my life.
A few days ago, as I was helping in building , I came to understand , what makes people like the volunteers to come and do whatever they do, it was such a beautiful collective feeling of real contribution to a real human act .
But what I saw in those villages and the nearby Israeli settlement and city , made me understand the apprehensive anxiousness in Clemens the water specialist who was lecturing in daila some time ago, or Ilan Pappe vicious analysis and true concern in exposing what he discovered . All those people, who I always thought that they must be over exaggerating in their reactions, it is bad, but there is no need for all this.
Now I understand,
Now I understand that sympathizing is something, seeing is something, understanding is something, revealing is something,
But deciding to put our humanity in the real test is something we cannot all do.
I was seeing in the eyes of some of the company irritation of how I behaved, or how I commented.
But I was there, in that place, where I couldn’t pretend anymore. I don’t know if the fact that I am a Palestinian made me behave differently or not.
But it wasn't about being a Palestinian.
My suffering in life is far from occupation as theirs. It was that human thing, that human tragedy I was witnessing falling and practiced on those people, and I couldn’t watch in silence.
Maybe for many this is just a journey in knowledge, a journey that will result in a study and another scholar revelation,
It moves our humanities for a while, for those moments, and then we turn that page and move on.
I don’t know how much I can move on.
26-7-07