The walls are closing in

September 26, 2010 No Comments

Today I sat in an auditorium full of Nablusi’s and Internationals, all watching the film To Shoot an Elephant, about the Israeli siege on Gaza. To my right, was my friend Ayyash, an activist who lives in Balata Camp. He translated some things for me and, having seen the movie a few times before, predicted some of the most horrific scenes as I shook with tears.

Watching a movie about Gaza while in the West Bank is surreal. The Palestinians sitting next to me cannot go to Gaza, and it would be extraordinarily difficult for me to get in. They are blocked by highways they cannot use, randomly erected checkpoints, machine guns wielded by 18-year-old Israeli’s with dreadlocks, an enormous wall, an identity card that clearly delineates where they are and are not allowed to go.

Today Netanyahu announced that the moratorium on settlement building would not be extended. I heard Palestinians talk about whether this would bring a third intifada. I heard about escalated violence. I felt the walls surrounding the people I love close around us.

Their land has slowly been taken away for years. My country has helped fund this. And now, though America is the top funder of the Israeli occupation, we seem to believe we can lead peace talks between Israel and Palestine.  I wait in anticipation from the West Bank.

I have witnessed the occupation.

Palestinians have a different colored license plate than Israeli’s. The white plates can only drive on designated roads. The yellow plates can go anywhere. This is an occupation.

The other evening my friend pointed out the Mediterranean Sea in the distance. “We cannot go there, of course,” she said. Another friend remembered going there back in 1998. Though it’s about 2 kilometers away, Palestinians do not have access to the coast. This is an occupation.

I went to dinner at a friend’s house and watched olive trees burn. Settlers had set fire to them. The Israeli army drove by and did nothing. This is an occupation.

Since I’ve been here, four residents of Iraq Burin, a village a few minutes from Nablus, have been arbitrarily arrested. Two of them young men, and two of them village council members. The people in this village are farmers. They have lived there for years. Israeli’s have stolen their land, burned their trees, and recently killed two of the young men in the village (16 and 19).  This is an occupation.

One of my 16-year-old students was late for class because a surprise checkpoint was erected on the way from her home to school. This is an occupation.

Yesterday my boyfriend had to run away from soldiers. This is an occupation.

One of my friends was arrested last week for being affiliated with Hamas. He’s in a PA prison in Nablus, but I don’t know when he’ll get out. Maybe, hopefully, in a few days. This is an occupation.

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