Musings on the Wall
Yesterday evening I hiked down into the Birzeit valley with P, just before sunset. The entire valley was terraced hundreds of years ago, and is now the home of some of Palestine’s famous olive trees. The countryside is stunning here, everywhere you look there are terraced hills with old, crumbly stone walls and olive trees. We settled onto one of the terraces, took some pictures and watched the sun set. There was plenty of light from the moon, and I was struck by the timelessness of the moment. Sitting in the olive grove, we were looking at the same view generations of Palestinians had admired. With the exception of the lights from the settlement which marred the otherwise beautiful night.
Luckily, we didn’t have any trouble climbing out of the olive grove, although I did manage to stick my hand in a thorn bush and now have several splinters.
After my hike I ran into my cousin, B, and I decided to level with her about my lifestyle. I figured that trying to keep so many secrets while she is practically my next-door-neighbor would be silly. She was very understanding, and I think that we understand each other better now. I met her for lunch today, and everything seemed okay, which I am very happy about. Tomorrow I will travel with her to Qalquilia to meet the rest of her family. Qalquila is one of the Palestinian cities that is completely surrounded by the wall, so hopefully I will be able to talk to people about the situation and their lives under occupation – we’ll see how well I navigate the language barrier . . .
This afternoon my program hosted a presentation on the Apartheid Wall by the Stop the Wall Campaign. I was already familiar with most of the information, but I did not know about Israel’s plan force Palestinian traffic in the West Bank through tunnels which can easily be closed by dropping a gate. Apparently this will significantly decrease the number of soldiers required to maintain the Occupation and control the Palestinian population. It is an incredibly clever plan. It never ceases to amaze me how creative humanity can be at solving problems, and how often the “solutions” we find are destructively aimed at other groups of people . . . At the end of the presentation our speaker talked about protest movements and what Palestinians are doing to try to stop the wall and the destruction of their land and their homes – but I have to admit it seemed a little hopeless. I don’t understand how the Israeli government can continue to implement their Wall – against international law – without suffering any consequences. Where is the international community?