When I came here I had a difficult time adjusting. I was focusing more on the political situation than on my own personal life. Then my personal life suffered some challenges which were not easy to overcome. I wasn’t able to create a balance.
I was figuring out how to perform in my job with children who acted up because they had had one English teacher after the next leave them, and really, that’s what I was going to do in the end anyways. I thought they were spoiled, but they were just being human, putting up barriers much like the walls that exist all over this country.
I was trying to experience and learn about life in Israel-Palestine.
We visited places in the West Bank: Jayyous (olive picking), Bethlehem (Christmas), Ramallah (Palestinian elections). We saw the wall being built and how it affects the communities it ruins, separating families from each other, such as the mother and daughter on different sides of the wall in the village of Baka. We visited Israeli cities, eating yummy food, drinking good coffee, walking through the market that was bombed in October, strolling barefoot along the beach in Tel Aviv. We’ve been to Jerusalem a number of times. A city divided like pieces of a pie, everyone inhabiting the same space, yet completely isolated. Muslims, Jews, Christians, Settlers, Foreigners, Tourists, Students.
I became consumed with thoughts of the occupation, reading snipits in the news from Ali or personal stories in the newspapers/websites I discovered on my own. I would write about these experiences and thoughts on my blog, trying to make sense of it all and share that dismay with others. Ali also wrote about the occupation. People reading our blogs became worried about our wellbeing and wanted to read more uplifting stories. As a result of my emotional reactions to the assorted challenge I was dealing with a rupture was created on the home front. I had become so attentive to external conditions that I was oblivious to its effect on my personal relationships. Once I did, I began to focus on repairing it. We’ve come a long way Baby. (Fat Boy Slim)
So, the balance still does not exist. I find myself focusing on the good in life around me and then I see that I am neglecting the reality outside of Nazareth. I just read Rachel Corrie’s letters from Gaza to her parents in Olympia, Washington. She was a 23 year old member of the International Solidarity Movement, a group that uses non-violent direct action against the Israeli army in the Occupied Territories. She was killed in March of 2003 by an Israeli bulldozer that “didn’t see her, in her bright orange vest” as she stood between the bulldozer and a Palestinian home, blocking the demolition, in the end giving her life to the cause.
Gaza is a war zone that people either don’t recognize as such or forget that it exists. It is far from our Arab town of Nazareth. It is far from the places we have visited. We see the empty streets and closed businesses in the West Bank, the posters of martyrs and the wall that keeps families apart. When we visit other cities in the West Bank we will see more. But we will not get to Gaza. Because Israel will not allow us passage, nor will they recognize the terror and acts of violence that they commit daily in Gaza. It’s interesting that you can have “the world’s fourth largest army, backed by the world’s super power” fighting “terror” and no one really understands or knows what’s truly happening there.
The rest of the world sees the war in Iraq and the genocide in Sudan. But what about the malevolence they unconsciously contribute to, through tax dollars and indifference?
We were walking through the Moslem Quarter of Jerusalem’s old city, and saw posters outside a shop noting some major corporations’ who profit from the occupation: Clinique, Origins, Caterpillar, DKNY, Prescriptives, Estee Lauder — Estee Lauder’s chairman, Ronald Lauder, is also President of the Jewish National Fund which acts as a PR on behalf of the Israeli government and the Occupation of the Palestinian Territories.– .
How many of us have and do purchase products from these companies? How many of you know where the money goes and how much of it is used to purchase bullets that kill students in classrooms when a tank comes through during the morning Math lesson?
I suppose this is an attempt to reclaim some of the balance in my life that I strive for. Life IS good. For me. For Ali. For us. But we also want to recognize and educate the outside world about what is truly going on here in Israel-Palestine. And sometimes it brings us down. And sometimes, if we take you down with us for a moment, then you will have experienced a tiny ounce of a life that exists elsewhere, where the only thing up is the sun.