I understand Finals weeks is around the corner for many of you and it is going to get pretty hectic and busy for the next week. Well, I hope that you will take a break from studying to catch my blog! I told you all about my experience in Palestine. I felt like I needed to shed a little more light on it as far as I understand the issue, how you do, and what your perspective on the occupation is.
I was unsure of where to start… I will just address the issues that I witnessed or that were told to me by the people in the villages I visited.
I stayed in Husan, as I stated in a previous blog, with my aunt and her husband, my uncle Ismail. The village was filled with kids our age, and many of them unfortunately just accepted their circumstances as they were- it was heart breaking. I am struggling on a way to structure this, I am just going to list what I noticed and was told to me.
- Lack of an education
- It is hard for them to find transportation because often the road to the university may be blocked or closed by the IDF.
- A degree doesn’t mean anything because there are no jobs available in the occupied territory.
- Pursuit of a higher education is expensive and only wealthier families can afford to send their students to; Jordan (for example) to study.
- Many join the PA through wasta (patronage) or receive permits to work in the Jewish cities.
- Some don’t work at all.
I do not know if you recall, but I had posted a photo of an entrance into the Jewish cities. Many people who are looking for work just for the day, such as temporary labor or a substitute for someone injured, wake up as early as 2am, and they wait till the IDF arrives to open the entrance. The pathway is so small that people are often toppling one another and some climb over others as well.
- Exponential population growth
- It is a well known fact that the Palestinian population is outgrowing the Israeli one; it is because of lack of an education available and options for a future.
- Many of the young ladies in the village are married off when they turn 16; there is no work available for them and no resources available to pursue a higher education resulting in having larger families. By the way, marriages are not arranged, just instead of dating people are engaged- they are basically dating during that period.
- The Wall-Road access-Visas
- The Wall has cut off many people from being able to access social services such as, medical treatment, entrance into other Jewish cities, and ambulances in case of an emergency…etc.
- The segregation of roads has made it more difficult for Palestinians to get from one city to the next. My uncle stated that, if he were to drive to Ramallah through Jerusalem it would take 30-40 min max but through the back roads that they are required to take it takes between an hour and an hour and 15 minutes.
- Visas-It is very rare that the Israeli government accepts visa requests from the people of the villages, even one like Husan, which is in good standing with the Jewish people and government. It was sad to hear of many of them who had family in Amman that they hadn’t seen in over a decade. My friend Yousef missed his niece’s wedding because he is in the PA thus he will never be permitted to leave the village unless it is with the actual PA for work, and is never allowed to enter a Jewish city. I saw IDF soldiers all over the streets in the West Bank but it was not permitted for PA soldiers to enter Israel.
- Living conditions: I will just state what I saw.
- Garbage piled high in the streets even on roofs of supermarkets.
- No cinemas, parks, any form of recreational activity for the kids.
- School buildings were filled with graffiti.
- Most days are spent in the streets of Bethlehem because no access to cars or buses that would take them to other cities or villages.
- Husan sits on a hill, many kids sit and look through the fence and down at the settlement roads that segregate two people who want the same land but don’t even know each others story.
This experience inspired me to dig further and I visited a Refugee camp in Jordan. The people in it have been here since 1948 following the first Nakbeh (day of catastrophe) and have raised their families there ever since. It was interesting to see that photos pf Palestinian leaders and activists were posted everywhere; shop names were titled after Palestinian cities such as, “Bread of Jersualem” or “Ramallah Hair Salon” etc…
I ended up meeting with the oldest woman in the camp and conducted a full length interview. She discussed with me how her neighbors were Jews who immigrated from Iraq and warned her and her husband to leave because they did not want them to die for their sake. That same day they left, they walked and took nothing with them. She mentioned it was very hot and there was a lack of water. She witnessed people placing their children under trees because it was too hot and difficult to carry them, they would just leave them there in hopes that someone else would be able to provide them with shelter, food, water, or they would be left to die. She kept screaming at Obama during the interview, she said, ‘we just want you (U.S.) to communicate with us and stop Israel from killing our people and taking our land.‘ She mentioned that the Arab countries are no longer united in the Palestinian effort and they need to be. She said it was up to the States to return Palestine to a sufficient state because they are responsible for the state it is in now. The last thing she told me was that, her only wish was to die and be buried in her village.
It was quite emotional for me… I was upset to see what living conditions US tax dollars had subjugated the Palestinian people to. I’m ashamed of endorsing the segregation of two people when we fought long and hard in our own country to prevent that from happening. I’m saddened by the predictable future of the many boys and girls our age and the lack of education they receive. Above all, I was amazed that they were not upset, vengeful, or bitter with the Jewish population for the most part, but rather its representatives, Zionists, IDF, and the US government- not the people. Many of them just don’t understand WHY…Why can we not live side by side? Why can I not go to school? Why can I not visit my family? Why are we still imprisoned by the wall? Why am I a security threat?
Do you think that once anyone speaks out against Israel in the West it is viewed as Anti-Semitic?
Do you think that a solution is possible? If so, what kind would you propose?
How do you feel about Israel stating that the lives that the Palestinians are subjugated to is for their “security”?
I personally believe that Israel is a state of immigrants… the Palestinian population was there before 1948 and they are not asking to even return to a state that was once entirely theirs… they just want a home free of occupation, fear, and imprisonment. I honestly feel like a one state solution is inevitable, just seeing how much land has been annexed into Israel proper. Many Palestinians feel that they need to amend their relationship and live side by side.