Friday Post:

June 20, 2009

Bil'in demonstration against the Wall

This week there have been more house demolitions in East Jerusalem, part of the ethnic cleansing the Israelis are trying to carry out there, slowly but surely. They want Jerusalem for Israel’s “undivided, eternal” capital and they’re not willing to share it, half and half.  Israelis in the West side and Palestinians on the East side–Theres not a lot of mixing between the two–most Israelis are too paranoid to go into the Arab parts because they think the Palestinians would like nothing more than to kill an Israeli, when actually theyre just trying to get by, the same as the Israelis.  And the Arabs dont go into the Israeli part because its segregation, discrimination…that kind of stuff.  They probably wouldnt be beaten up or anything, but the Israelis would look at them like they’re not supposed to be there and make them so uncomfortable it wouldnt be worth it.

I saw the tent of Umm Kamel in Sheikh Jarrah for the first time the other day…if you have time you should look up some articles on that situation, the family name is Al Kurd (theres probably some articles on Palestinemonitor.org in the archives).  An elderly Palestinian couple was forced out of their house by the Israeli military so settlers can move in. 

The husband had a heart attack because of the stress and died.  And his wife was suddenly homeless, with no husband and no money.  So she built a tent in a field in front of her neighborhood and has lived there ever since.  The tent attracts a lot of internationals and press–especially when she receives demolition orders from the military.  Its been demolished many times already by the ISraeli military, but she keeps putting it back up and won’t give up.  She’s amazing.

Anyways, other than that this week has been fairly quiet.  The swine flu is spreading around the West Bank…probably the last place on earth it made it to because we’re so isolated, ahaha.  It came from students travelling in America.  They brought it back with them and now its spreading. Hopefully they have the vaccine here! haha

A lot of the farmers are afraid of the pigs now. A lot of people here dont know how the flu actually started or spreads, so everyone is suspicious of all the pigs here.  My friend Wajdi had to go and explain to a bunch of villages that its not spread from their pigs because they were trying to kill all the pigs here like they did in Egypt.  But actually they should use this has an excuse to kill the wild boars the settlers use to “protect” the settlements in the West Bank.  They just starve them then send them down onto the Palestinian villages below!  They’re out of their minds.

The demonstration in Bil’in on Friday was very strange.  It was really hot and not too much wind.  We had a medium sized group and lots of random Americans who I havent seen before.  The Israelis didnt shoot anything for at least a half an hour after we got to the wall.  No boys were throwing stones, we were just standing there, staring at each other, waiting for the other side to attack, hahaha.  It was really nerve-racking!

And I was actually hoping they would be crazy today because there were some Americans (I think) doing a documentary on IDF ‘morals’–in response to Barack’s statement that the IDF is the “most moral army in the world”, ha, evidence to the contrary!  So, it would have been better if they could have gotten an accurate picture of what usually happens in Bil’in.  But everyone was explaining to them that the IDF was holding back for some reason today, and that its usually a lot crazier–like sound bombs, endless teargas canisters/grenades/or the cannon that shoots 30+canisters out in 5 secongs, rubber bullets, rubber coated steel bullets, and live ammunition.

Anyways…after a while the Israelis shot a couple teargas canisters, everybody ran.  We lost the Americans. ha.  Then nothing for a long time again, and the boys started throwing stones. 

Suddenly everybody started walking back towards where we were near the back, saying that they were aiming the ‘cannon’/al thuletheen (30).  So we backed up more and waited.  Then we heard the sound of 30+ canisters being shot in 5 seconds, ha.  I had my camera out and took a video of it..haha.  Luckily the Israelis missed us, ahah and they all went into the field beside us.   It started a fire in the field because it was so hot, but they got it out.  Unfortunately the wind was blowing towards us so the teargas got us even though the canisters missed us.  This time (the teargas is always different, to prevent us from building a tolerance to it I guess, hahah, or to test out new illegal teargas on us…ha) the teargas really made our skin sting.  It didnt really choke us as bad as it does sometimes.  But it really stung.

After that they might have shot 3 or 4 more teargas canisters and thats IT.  No bullets, no sound bombs.  It was really strange, but good that no one got injured or anything.  I just know that whatever reason they were holding back today, probably wont be there next week, and they might be even crazier than normal to make up for the fact that they couldnt respond when some soldiers got hit by stones yesterday (don’t feel bad, ha, the soldiers have bullet proof vests on, padded pants, bullet proof helmets and full length shields- not to mention the fence between us and them…they can’t really be hurt.  Unlike us! Anyways..we’ll see what happens next week.

This weekend in Ramllah has been pretty fun.  There is a restaurant/bar here called Snowbar that’s outside, it has a pool and a little forest of pine trees.  Ha, it looks like Seattle basically.  Anyways, on Thursday nights they have a live DJ and hundreds of people come to the party.  So I went with my roommates and my friends…it was really nice.  But of course, since its outside and loud music, we got noise complaints from the neighbors and by midnight the PA army was there to shut down the party, ha.  With kalashnikovs and everything.  Well, this is when you remember you’re in Palestine.

Anyways…today after work we’re having a BBQ there so it should be nice…that’s it for this week.


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