Israel and the Palestinian Territories blog
I came to Israel and the Palestinian Territories with a fairly naive understanding of the current political and social situation on the ground. I had studied the Six Day War and some of that period of history (1967-8) at either university or school, I can’t quite remember. I had even won a trivia night question on the dates of this period of the Israeli/Arab conflict back in 2000.
Let it be said from the start, the perspective we gained was not from the typical tourist experience. This in itself is quite a concern as we went to places and did things and heard things that the average tourist would really have very little chance of accessing. Hence how do alternate stories get out?
Therein lies part of the problem; public perception is that the conflict over land is a conflict between two equal and opposing forces. This perception is so far from the truth. I do not follow any organised religion, I do however believe strongly in a great spirit, a creative energy that connects all beings and things… So this is not a religious discussion for me. What I want to share is observations and information from my visit, of people. First and foremost people of the earth, not of religions or races or cultures…. These are my perceptions of the dynamics of power, and the impacts on lives of women, children and men.
There was an agreement of a ‘green line’ – a division of land that was agreed upon (sorry can’t remember when). In Israel and the Palestinian Territories a very large concrete wall is partly erected and in the process of being erected. See some photos of this below… Reminiscent of the Berlin Wall. The obscene reality is that the agreed upon green line for the wall is not being adhered to much at all. The Israelis are pushing out the wall to claim more land, all the fertile land owned by Palestinian families is being cut off from owners; families land/income and livelihood and people cut off from medical services.
The pushing of the wall is reducing every opportunity for the Palestinian population to maintain any self sustainability or independence. There is a definite systematic reduction of choice, opportunity and self rule for the Palestinian people. I really loved the examples that Christos shared earlier so I won’t repeat them…
I do want to add one… Of a family in the West Bank…. They had productive farm land that the Israelis built the wall right next to. I can’t remember the details however I think the documentary we saw showed 3 times over several years, the ripping out of trees and crops that the Palestinians planted and lived off the income of, claiming more and more ‘no mans’ land each time…
So instead of more stories, please think of this tree below. I happened to glance at it as we ate our sandwiches in a busy square after visiting Christ’s birthplace in Bethlehem. Look at the inscription.
I pray for humanity and the earth. May insight and wisdom in the form of respect and tolerance of diversity spread it’s peace very very soon…
Now on a more personal level… We stayed with friends Carolyn and Martin from Melbourne. Yiayia asked one day, how we all knew each other. As Caro and I spoke we realised the multiple levels of family connections. Caro and my parents knew each other, I went to kinder around the corner from them, we went to the same school although a year apart, we were at uni and in a political team together elected to the student union, our grandmas knew each other, and then there is the Martin connection; he was one of my cousin’s best mates at uni – my cousin Michael lived with us, so I first knew Martin by his nickname ‘Chook’ – Michael’s wife Wendy’s sister is actually married to Caro’s first cousin…. So the connections are multifaceted and meant to be.
We holidayed with these guys when they were working in Kosovo. We were visiting Greece and both our families made wild journeys across the borders to meet in Ochrid, Macedonia. That was a tale of epic juggling of young kids, Carolyn putting on a memorable ballet performance in an ancient Amphitheatre-like ruin, and parents that were determined to explore.
Thank you Carolyn and Martin. What you have given of your hearts and souls to us on this trip and to the displaced and threatened people of this world through your work is astounding. Your children are remarkable, their personalities, and knowledge and love is palpable… We can’t wait until you return to Australia and when you venture abroad for work again, we will meet with you again for more family holidays.
By Mama Miliking