"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Friday, January 19, 2007 Abbie Coburn's Palestine Journal -- Part VI
Republished with permission.
Did I tell you the one about the house surrounded on four sides by the Wall? It sounds like a joke, right? Are you waiting for the punch line?
Well, there isn't one.
There is a house in Mas'ha, north of Jerusalem and Ramallah. Driving for miles in olive tree country. The land is beautiful. Dense and dry, but beautiful. Apparently the Israelis thought so too. There is a house that refugees buiilt after being kicked off their land in 1948. And again in 1967. But they refuse to be made into refugees again.
This is all a joke right? We dirve up along the road and are met by an iron fence 30 feet high. Barbed wire spills over the sides, dragging along the floor. To the right is a large cylindrical building rising 50 feet in the air with armed Israelis guards on top. A small gate in the fence where we are greeted by welcoming Palestinian children. They invite us into their yard, into their home. Stepping through the gate, turning in 360 degrees, we are surrounded by the Apartheid Wall. Completely locked in. Someone has found it necessary to build the Wall entirely around this one house.
The house sits in the middle of a yard, which is edged on all sides either by a 30 foot high cement Wall, or a 30 foot-high fence. Can you believe that? Who in their right mind thinks this is a good idea?
These people are not terrorists, they are not involved in any violent organizations. They are a poor family of 7 that lives on land that Israelis want.
Are you still waiting for the punch line? I haven't even told you of their neighbors yet. You see, in 1986, Israelis wanted the land so much that they decided to build them some neighbors. Directly on the other side of one of the walls is an Israeli settlement.
Now, I don't know what you think of when I say settlement, but this neighborhood is just like where Mr. Rogers would live. Looks just like suburbia in the States. Cookie cutter, picket fences, yards fed with water from Palestinian land. Just enough right angles to make one puke.
Standing on the roof of the Palestinians' house one could piss into the flower beds of the Israelis. No one did, but, y'know....you could. It's really that close. All of the shutters on the windows that face the Wall were closed. Closed to reality. Of course they want this Palestinian house demolished. It's an eyesore. It doesn't fit into their utopia mold.
I can't even tell you of the injustices this family has witnessed. The activists who have been shot, holding vigil outside their house; the number of fences and road blocks that have been put up in front of the Wall to their house; the constant presence of armed Israeli guards on their land.
Land that used to be rich in vegetables and plants, now trampled under the feet of armed men who harass their children on a daily basis.
So, what now? Do we watch as houses, families, villages, cities are choked to death under apartheid and oppression? Do we stay silent for fear of being called anti-Semitic? Do we try to be diplomatic? Do we try to please the ones with the money? Who knows what can be done? Do you? Tell me.
I'm tired of being voyeuristic. I'm tired of people patting me on the back for coming. I'd rather you give me ideas how to keep going, sustainably, challenging these models of oppression, standing up for heroic acts of courage committed by palestinians. What does solidarity look like to you?
What does making a difference look like to you?
Good shabbos to all you Jews. A peaceful Friday to the rest of you.
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"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."