Well today was interesting.
Today began by heading towards the Halamish Settlement and the small village, Deir Niham. We went to talk with Gerard Horton and Salwa Duaibis of Military Court Watch and meet with some kids, and their families, who were detained by the Israeli military.
Two boys told us their story about how soldiers grabbed, slapped, spit on, and screamed at them — yes, 14-year-old boys. As they told their stories rather matter-of-factly, I kept drifting back and forth between hearing their stories and thinking that these are boys the same age as boys in my Middle daughter’s class.
Gerard was great at walking us through some of the ways that the military intimidates Palestinians, especially those near settlements – night raids, random round-ups, and generally intimidating at any time of the day. Best quote from Gerard,
There is no nice way to do settlement construction in occupied territories, that’s why it’s illegal.
To punctuate this fact, in the middle of our conversation and not far from the place were sitting a shock grenade went off. And while the residents barely flinched, the rest of our delegation tried to play it cool — key word, “tried”? Don’t worry, we are all fine, but it was clear example of what these folks have to deal with all the time. This meeting has probably had the most impact on me. Still processing, so more to come.
After that we met with two amazing people in Ramallah: Quaker leader, Jean Zaru and Palestinian American Business person, Sam Bahour. Sam helped us to see the impact of economic and political power that Israel has over Palestine.
We live in a fishbowl and given just enough food so we don’t die.
Jean provided some great information on dialogue and the interfaith interactions.
Jesus addressed root causes. Maybe if he would have just kept feeding the hungry and healing the sick, they would have left him alone.
People learn where their feet take them.
After that we headed back to Bethlehem before the night, but not before going through a couple of checkpoints. And as if to again drive the point home, when we went through the gate, our tour guide, a Palestinian Christian, was pulled off our van and made to walk through the security office. And while shocking to us, just another reality of living while Palestinian in Israel.
We ended the night with dinner and rest. The group is getting pretty tired, bit we press on.
Tomorrow is my last full day. I have to get home for an event of the paying variety, so will not be part of the last few days of the tour. Way bummed, but alas, I get to see the family soon.
See you tomorrow.