“What are you, leftists?”
His friend chimes in:
“What are you two, together?”
The girl continues:
“Haven’t you heard of Kahana? He said to kill all of the Arabs, and he was right.”
“I feel like soon, I won’t have a place here.”
In what way?
“That I won’t be able to tolerate the violence, the racism. Really, I am worried, for myself and for my children. This week was the first time in my life -and I’m not young at all- that I’ve felt that maybe I don’t want to live the rest of my life here… Give me a second before you take my picture? So I’m not crying in the photograph.”
“Yes, at least.”
How do you know that?
“I know, it’s common sense.”
Have you spoken to 90% of the Arabs?
“No, but I’ve spoken to a lot of them.”
Do you speak Arabic?
“No… but I live near Sheikh Jarrah.”
I felt guilty for leaving. So much so, that I almost didn’t want to write this post, even though I’d promised to write a story every day for the month of July. Everything at home feels jagged, hot, urgent, and here I was, boarding a plane to Southern Germany… But now I’m here, and the fact of the matter is that, well, I am here. I cannot write any reports from any ground except for this ground. And from this ground, I report: the air tastes like mountains and crisp summer nostalgia and mountains look like legends and make me want to weep and the raindrops twingling on my skin feels like the sky is weeping on me and I can only look at the Alps and marvel at how wide everything looks.
July 8th: Reflections from a visit to the Abu Khdeir family’s home in Shuafat (by Liana Rothman)
The wall, in Palestine, a tall and mighty one. Grows, creating a perpendicular monster, flat screened TV, forever on a channel I would rather not be watching. Perpendicular to this land that has been deemed holy. Holy for holy wars, holy for god and his chosen people, holy to host and remember a rich history of kings and prophets.
Dave, the wall runs a most uncomfortable juxtaposition across our hill tops. Holy and TV.
That was the first thing I saw this morning when I turned on my phone. There is a backstory. I was sitting in the Berlin airport, waiting to fly back to Tel Aviv after a week of speaking throughout Bavaria about nonviolence, anti-collectivization, Israel’s military occupation and my own refusal to take part in that system, and a weekend of exploring Berlin. An article on twitter caught my eye: Jews in Paris were hiding in a synagogue after a violent group emerged from within a protest in support for Gaza, seeking to harm Jews.
Up near the police barrier, a man stands holding an olive branch. He doesn’t speak and he doesn’t move. Occasionally, he switches hands. Suddenly shy, not wanting to disturb whatever this man is processing- Who is he? What have his eyes seen? Who does he know?- I tentatively ask approach him:
“Can I ask you why you are holding this?”
He looks at me, his eyes meet mine. He responds, quietly:
“I believe in peace. It’s that simple for me.”
July 20th: Meanwhile in Haifa: One demonstrator tells of being punched in the head in the city of tolerance (By Samuel Tell)
On the way, and in clear view of the police, I was suddenly punched in the back of the head and then, as I bent over, was kneed in the face. Luckily my hands were in front of my face and absorbed most of the blow and luckily my attackers decided to run off. The only person who came to my assistance was a woman who started to cry as she asked me if I was OK. “I can’t believe this is happening in Haifa!” she sobbed. “When did we become like Jerusalem?”
July 21st: What is the connection between SodaStream and Gaza? (By Jacob Udell)
Today I could not tear myself away from the gruesome photoscoming out of Shujaya. I read as a sort of intellectual grieving (and as a break from the photos): the transcript of an interview with a Gazan human rights leader who said “Cast Lead was a joke compared to this,” reports of the anti-tank mine blown up under 7 Israeli soldiers, an inquiry into the war crime that was the bombing of the the Al-Wafah hospital. I also read that a group of 60 Palestinian workers were collectively fired from SodaStream.
-You know, no one likes the Palestinians… Not in the Arab world, not here.
-Sort of like Jews of the past, huh?
-Hmm. I think you’re right. I feel badly for them. Most of them probably used to be Jews, you know.
-What do you mean?
-I mean that when Muhammad undertook his wars, he converted all sorts of Jews in this region to Islam.
-Like Christians before…
-[Laughing] And before that? Us! The Jews! Joshua Ben Nun. We’re such racists…
I don’t know how it started, but I do know that I looked over to see the rightists begin hitting people on the heads with their flag poles, blue and white flags crashing down. I rush over to try to calm things, speaking in an easy tone, making eye contact, and it seems to work with a few of the guys, who hesitate as they look at me. And then:
And my eyes are burning.
At least in the Oxfam office I found a place to stay – others have no place at all to go. My 90 year old uncle is sheltering in a school. Most of the people in my area make their living from animal farming – but many of their animals are now dead and missing. Losing all your resources can be catastrophic.
Orthodox Jew: Are you an Arab?
Arab: Yes. Wow you speak Arabic?!
Orthodox Jew: Yes, I lived in Argentina for a while and many Arabs were living in my neighborhood, so I learned Arabic.
Arab: Nice. I am from Jerusalem.
At this point I thought to myself: this could turn out to be one of the most interesting conversations I’ve ever eavesdropped on.
Orthodox Jew: Really? So you were born in Jerusalem?
Arab: Yes. But I am a Christian.
“BUT I am Christian.”