I’ve been meaning to write for days. I’ve been meaning to sit down, have a free moment, compose my thoughts, figure out how to translate my experiences into something understandable to a world where injustice is not quite as daily, quite as random, quite as violent. I wish I could just say “There was curfew in Marda today” and that you all would understand. That you would know without my telling you that that meant Israeli army jeeps were driving through the village at 5:30 am (and for many, many, many hours after that), that they were throwing sound bombs and tear gas, and shooting rubber-coated bullets randomly, that there was a complete atmosphere of fear. I wish you would know that when three international observers arrived, we were kept out of the village by army, detained by border police, and threatened with arrest. That we were told we could only enter if we were press, but then when the press arrived they weren’t allowed in either.
I wish you would know that a boy’s id was taken from his home and he was told to come to the next village to pick it up, but that his father wouldn’t send him because he was afraid his son would be killed. Or that a young man was arrested and his family couldn’t locate him all day (they now know he’s in Qedumim settlement / detention center). Or that each time soldiers were asked for justification of their actions, they would say, “it’s closed because we say so. This is our territory.” I wish more than anything that you could know everything that is behind this statement, every way in which it manifests itself, every way in which the world completely ignores what is happening here.
I wish I could trust that the media would tell you that a group of disabled palestinians (in wheelchairs and on crutches, many blind people, etc.) were shot at with tear gas by the army at a demonstration today in Bil’in before they got anywhere near their destination (which was on their land).
I can’t even remember what is usual and not anymore. I am not surprised by things. I am only angry. And resentful. And even hateful sometimes. I don’t know how to change this. I don’t know how to get away. I don’t think anyone should be able to get away, not when others can’t. And yet how can I think clearly? Saturday was a wonderful demonstration in Marda, although even as I say that I think about the hundred or so soldiers who lunged towards the crowd – but they only beat a couple people, only arrested a couple Israelis, and only temporarily. Only Sunday we tried to accompany farmers to their land and were shot at by a private security company that guards wall work. Monday we tried again to accompany farmers to their land, and this time were met by hundreds of soldiers who began firing tear gas before they could even tell who was there. 200 rounds of tear gas. Before they could even see us. It’s better, of course, in the grand moral scheme of the world, that no distinction be made between Palestinian farmers and International peace workers. But it’s scary. It’s confusing. And of course, the result should be that we are all treated as human, not that we are all treated as expendable.
There’s a newly involved Israeli who has come to a couple demos recently. The other day we were standing in Marda looking up to the top of the hill with the bulldozers, and she said, “this is just crazy. They’re just taking someone else’s land.” As a taxi driver noted a few days ago, “if I don’t like my neighbours and want to build a fence to separate us, I’d build it on my yard, not my neighbour’s.” Even more simply, after I explained to a new IWPS volunteer yesterday a few of the happenings of the past couple days, she said, “now that’s not nice.” And still, I can’t even bring myself to think any of this. Because I am not surprised anymore. Only angry.
I was in west Jerusalem for about an hour today, walking down the street looking at the half-naked teenagers with their orange ribbons in solidarity with the settlers of gush katif, and I just thought, “you have no idea.” If Palestinians could see this, I thought, I’m not sure they would be quite as patient as they are. Although they probably already know. They’re probably already so used to this, more used to this than I am, that nothing fazes them at all. Some have a patience that I can’t always quite fathom (“this too shall pass”), and others just use avoidance (“if I stay in my home and don’t let my kids out then everything will be tolerable”).
I am going to sleep in Marda now, going to be a presence in case the army returns.
I will send this only so you have a little bit of news from here. Realize not all the pain in the world is here. This is only my little corner. And I do only what I can. We all do. And it’s never enough. Never ever enough.
With sadness and anger,