Sophia's Peace Work

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

How do you write about Hebron

I’ve been struggling with what to write concerning my time here in Hebron. Making the transition from the occupation in Iraq to the occupation in the West Bank has been … unsettling. Strangely, in some ways, I find Hebron less safe than Baghdad. In Baghdad, the danger, though pervasive, was unseen and faceless. A mortar shot from miles away. A roadside bomb concealed in a cardboard box. I didn’t travel to the areas were active fighting was going on and so I never knowingly saw an Iraqi insurgent. Here in Hebron, there is a tension that troubles people’s brow. A settler passing whose face clouds with anger when he sees you. A soldier that is just so pissed at the world for being stuck in Hebron that he wants to take it out on someone. A Palestinian teenager so frustrated and angered by the constant indignities he faces that he walks down the street behind you whispering, “Fuck you. Fuck you.”

You can’t ignore the Occupation in Palestine. It is ever present, hanging over your head like the trash that the Settlers throw down upon the Palestinians in their settlements that are literally built on top of Palestinain homes and businesses.

Nothing I write can really convey the madness that is Hebron. What is going on here is completely unacceptable, strange, and bizarre. And yet, it continues year after year. A few days ago was the 75th anniversary of the massacre of the Jews in Hebron. In 1929, during a period of rioting and unrest caused by the rising tide of Zionism in Palestine, Arab vigilantes slaughtered 67 Jews in the city of Hebron. The Settlers have a museum to commemorate it and a few days ago, during the anniversary, there were marches and speeches made by the Settlers and invited guests. I think there even was a member from the Israeli Knesset who came to speak. I’ve written before that the Settlers either don’t know or refuse to acknowledge another fact about that incident. Before the unrest of the 1920’s there was a period of several hundred years of harmony between the Jewish and Arab populations of Hebron. And during the massacre itself, approximately 400 Jews were saved by their Arab neighbors.

My friend David, a journalist that I met in Iraq, is here with his friend Samantha. Sam has been living on a Kibbutz in southern Israel for five or six months now. A good Jewish girl that was not aware until she started traveling around the West Bank with David just had incredibly terrible this occupation truly is, for both Israelis and Palestinians. Most Israelis never come to the West Bank. If they do, they do so illegally. Just a simple walk through the Old City of Hebron is enough to open their eyes a little to what is going on here.

Since coming here I’ve been able to meet and get to know many Palestinians. When you know someone, when they are more than just a face to you, it changes things. When they have a story, relationships, hopes and dreams that they have shared with you, it becomes impossible to ignore them. Americans are good at ignoring. I was good at it. But now if I were to see Osaid, my Arabic teacher and a pathological joke teller, forced to squat beside some dirty wall at a checkpoint for 15, 30, or 60 minutes in the hot sun and being treated like a terrorist, I don’t know if I could stand it.

2 Comments:

  • the best part about what you write is when you force yourself to expose actual incidents in your daily life, such as the young man that followed you.

    Terry

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at August 25, 2004 5:43 PM  

  • Drop on by and browse through a huge archive of bad joke

    This is one of the many jokes i found amongst the many joke categorys:
    A man walks into his favorite bar and saw a bum panhandeling. The bum asked if the man could spare a dollar. The man replied "If I give you money are you going to use it to buy liquor?" The bum said he would not, so the man asked "If I give you money are you going to use it for gambling?" Again the bum said he would not, so the man asked "Would you come home with me so I can show my wife what happenes to someone who doesnt gamble or drink?"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at November 03, 2005 10:43 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home