“We shall not be moved”
I spent time last week in the United States, in Arizona, in the desert. Being in that landscape of rock and sand and sun brought my heart again to the days in Palestine. The major, major difference I noted was the abundance of water used in Arizona. Water for swimming pools, water for golf courses, water for decorative fountains. In Palestine water is so precious and so scarce and is used as a political tool. Used with somewhat wild abandon by the Israeli settlers, for pools, gardens and massive agricultural projects, while the villages of Palestinians have their water infrastructure demolished, unfairly and illegally restricted by the Israeli civil administration and sometimes deliberately contaminated by the settlers.
Back in Canada I read the ongoing reports of demolitions, the death of animals due to careless and brutal demolition of sheep pens, the threats of demolitions on schools, the continuing disruption of Palestinian communities by so called ‘archeological digs’. I get so angry.
I have felt overwhelmed. I cannot write new material for my blog, because I can find no ways to say in words what I am am seeing on line, and feeling in my soul as I imagine the peaceful, kind, hospitable people that I know being stripped of dignity and security.
And I am embarrassed, ashamed and angered that our current Canadian government seems to stand in full uncritical support of the government of Israel that continues to enact these abuses of power and humiliates the Palestinians under Occupation. Canadians must speak out to make the Harper government take a firm, public stand against Human Rights abuses, and violations of international law. The government stands on a Human Rights record in our dealings with other nations (Libya, Syria, China), but we chose not to support the Palestinians. Why?
The seeds of despair are being sown with every bulldozer that passes over the West Bank land; with every tree cut down or burned the roots of resistance are growing deeper. In the villages I accompanied and in the reports I see from EAs on the ground currently, the resistance in non-violent. Sit down protests on the buses, standing in front of the demolition crews to stop bulldozers, lying under a trailer to prevent having their property confiscated. Yet the world continues to be peppered with the images and rhetoric that paints all Palestinians as ‘terrorists’. This week, in a bus accident outside of Ramallah, several Palestinian school children died. Some of the commentary in Israeli websites expressed delight in the death of ‘little terrorists’. I know that this kind of mutual disdain does nothing to build bridges of peace.
There are many many organizations in the West Bank and in israel that try to bring communities together to find common ground, to share the commitment to a peaceful future. One such organization is The Tent of Nations, near Bethlehem. This week, they received a demolition order from the Israeli Defence Force. Tent of Nations
Rather than continue to write my own heartbreak and anger, I will offer some further links for you to explore and see other things that are occuring in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. May your prayers be informed, that you may pray and live for peace and justice. May you find ways to reach out to government to express your commitment to resolutions so that both Israel and Palestine may have self-determination, peace and safety. Please, educate others so that the international pressure to have Israel abide by International Law is increased.
Operation Dove Is an Italian Peace and Non-violence group maintaining a presence in the South Hebron Hills.
The Villages Group (villagesgroup.wordpress.com) is based in The West Bank and brings Israeli and Palestinian activists together to report on human rights abuses and property demolitions in the West Bank. They have recently posted about the pending demolition of the school in Susiya. Susiya is one of the villages I spent a great deal of time in during my stay in South Hebron Hills.
Please read the stories and imagine your way into the hearts of these communities.
I am thinking of trees today. and remembering the spiritual and protest song “We shall not be moved” Just like a tree that’s standing by the water, we shall not be moved. The commitment to the land is firm among both Israelis and Palestinians. If the roots that are watered with anger and hatred, what will be the fruits? If respect and fellowship and mutual understanding are lavished on the roots, the crop will be far different.