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Shaqooq fil Jidar's blog

A Dangerous Car Ride Through the Clashes

My best friend just visited me for two weeks.  The entire time I have been here, it has been pretty quiet.  There hasn’t been much violence or conflict.  But four days after she arrived, violence and clashes started happening every day.  They are still happening everyday and as I write this I can hear the clashes in the background (gun shots and a baby crying).  We mostly chilled in Bethlehem where I live and each evening if we were able to go outside, we would go to a different restaurant or meet different friends of mine in the area.  Other nights when the clashes were booming just blocks from my apartment, we stayed in.  Although the situation is heightened, we still wanted to do stuff and I still wanted to show her Palestine.  Not only do I love traveling around the West Bank, but I also felt it was my duty to show her around and do the best I could to explain things.

Living in a Conflict Zone

I think the last few days have been the first time that I have really felt like I live in the Occupied Territories.  The Wall, the soldiers, the checkpoints, the questions, the stories, the excitement, the feeling that it is dangerous.  Don’t get me wrong the injustice that I have witnessed over the past 6 months is hard to describe and the sadness and oppression all around me is hard to deal with but all of that just seems like nothing now.  Now it feels more like a conflict zone. 

There have been clashes and riots everyday all over the West Bank including in Bethlehem.  The Israelis cleansed the Temple Mount of Muslims last week for a Jewish holiday and there have been settler attacks around the West Bank.  The West Bank is in an uproar.  Meanwhile, Hamas fires rockets to Sderot…the same town I visited a few weeks ago.  There is talk of the third intifada.

Visiting Non-Jewish Populations Of Israel: Part 1: Introduction

Most of my blog and most of my experiences have been from behind the Separation Wall in the West Bank.  But a few weeks ago, I went on a political tour around Israel. There were about 20 of us and we hired a big, bright pink bus to take us on a three day tour.   It wasn’t a typical tour that most people go on when they come to Israel. People usually visit Tel Aviv and go to the beach, maybe visit the Carmel Market and shop at one of the many malls.  Then they go over to Jerusalem and visit some holy sites, and the Old City.  They probably  go to the Dead Sea and even up to the Sea of Galilee.

Living Next to the Border of Gaza

During my non-touristy tour around Israel, we traveled to Sderot which is an Israeli town a few kilometers from the Gaza border.  It is often hit by rockets during upheaval.  It was interesting to see the trauma that the Jewish people in that town live in because I rarely get that side of the story.  There were bomb shelters everywhere including the playground, which had a bomb shelter painted and shaped like a big caterpillar. I guess to cheer up the children.  The state of Israel requires each home in to have a bomb shelter. Instead of trying to make peace, when the project was initiated the Israeli government used tax money that could have been used for social services,  to install many of these private bomb shelters. 

Visiting Non-Jewish Populations Of Israel: Part 3: Druze in the Golan Heights

After a night in Jaffa, we went up to the Golan Heights and met the Druze who also live under harsh conditions and live with less rights than Jewish citizens within the state of Israel.  The Golan Heights was taken from Syria in 1967 during the six day war and has been occupied by Israel ever since.  There are many Arabs, including the Druze population that now live within the borders of Israel in the Golan Heights.  The lecture and tour of this Druze village about the living conditions and situation of the Druze population was very informative and interesting.  The conditions are similar to the West Bank Palestinians.  As I learn more and more about the different people of this land, the facts start blending about each group’s situation.  They are all similar, they are all horrible.  Most of them are unbelievable and they all violate international and my moral law.

Visiting Non-Jewish Populations Of Israel: Part 2: Unrecognized Bedouin Villages

At the beginning of our tour, we traveled to the Negev and met with Bedouins who live in the “unrecognized villages”.  These villages have about 80,000 people living in them and half of them are under the age of 18.  Although, these people live inside the state of Israel, are considered citizens, pay taxes if they work and some of them even serve in the military, they don’t have  access to electricity or running water.  When the tour guide said that some of them voluntarily serve in the military, I was astonished…why would they do that.  It turns out the Israeli military needed more soldiers to enroll in the military so they told Bedouins in these villages that if they serve in the military the state of Israel would give them electricity and running water and make their living conditions better.  So many Bedouins from these villages joined the military and were sometimes the toughest, harshest soldiers in the West Bank because they were trying to prove

Effects of Oppression and Occupation

I am sure there are many effects of the Israeli oppression and occupation of the Palestinian people.  I probably have written about some of them in past entries.  I have had so many experiences living behind the wall.  Part of me wanted this blog to be about the stories that I have heard but I also wanted it to be about the experiences I have had living behind the wall.  It's interesting too because after the first few weeks, random people stopped telling me their stories, as my Arabic got better, people stopped telling me their stories, as I went from  being known as a tourist to known as someone who lived here, people weren't flocking to me to tell me their stories.  But also as I stayed here and as my Arabic got better and as I went from being known as a tourist to someone who lived here, my personal stories about living behind the wall were racking up but I became blocked mentally.  One day in the Palestinian life is like a week.

The Only Democracy in the Middle East

Doesn't that indicate freedom.  Freedom of movement.  Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of travel.  Maybe equal rights.  Liberty...if it's the only democracy in the Middle East then why is it the only country in the Middle East that I have traveled to where I have been interrogated at the airport on the way in and the way out...each time I have been there?  Why is it the only country I have traveled to in the Middle East where I am scared to post on Facebook?  Where I'm scared to blog about my experiences?  Where I'm scared to tell people where I am living?  Where I am scared to tell people where I am volunteering and what I am doing?  Why is it the

An Old Man Cries

As I have said before, I am trying to learn Arabic.  It is very difficult but I have been having fun learning and practicing.  I spend a lot of my time down in the suk (market) talking to people and trying to listen to people speak in Arabic.  Some of the guys I have met in the market can speak English so it has been really helpful for me because they can translate things and I can repeat it back to them in Arabic.  So one day, I was in a friend’s shop and of course he invited me to have a cup of tea.  The Palestinian hospitality instilled in each of these guys would never allow me to walk away without them inviting me for a cup of tea or coffee.

Sneaking into Jerusalem

I bought a hiking book that has several hikes around the West Bank.  With everything going on, and all the intensity I need to make sure that I am staying grounded and have a release.  The way I do that best is by hitting the trails.  This weekend I got one of the guys I met at the market to drive me to a trail.  I figured I would give him the money rather than some random taxi.  I was planning on hiking alone but I think he was worried about me so he ended up just taking the day off and coming with me.  At the beginning of the hike, you walk down the mountain towards some train tracks.  On one side of the train tracks (where I started) is a Palestinian village.  On the other side of the tracks, there is no one but the Israelis control it.

Four Years of Waiting

I share with you just one story.  This is just one story. One story, from one person. I meet people every day and hear story after story.  Every day, people who have lived through their own personal trauma.  Like yesterday, the taxi driver.

Teenage Prisoner

 I want to learn Arabic so I study from a book and make flash cards in my free time....which is good.  I don't have a huge social life here but I am slowly meeting people and feeling people out.  So when I have nothing to do, I study!  And then when I am bored with studying, I walk around the old city to the shops and practice my Arabic with people.  The hospitality here is incredible.  Everyone is welcoming me in and inviting me for tea or coffee.  Arabs are famous for their hospitality.  But as I meet people, I hear their stories.  Every day I hear stories about how it is to live here with the occupation. The topic of conversation is always the struggle they live with.  It is hard to deal with.  There is so much pain and suffering here.  I can feel it in the energy and see it in people's eyes when I talk to them.

Crossing the Checkpoint and that Damn Wall

I am not really traveling anymore.

Stories from Behind the Wall-Introduction

My mother suggested writing a book.

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