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Effects of Oppression and Occupation

By Shaqooq fil Jidar - Posted on 29 July 2015

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.  It's too much to process and honestly it's too depressing to process. Every time I wrote I felt like crap afterwards so I blogged a lot when I first arrived but then I stopped.  I got too busy with work, with studying Arabic, with my social life, with traveling around and learning as much as I could about the situation, that I didn't make time for blogging.   I also don't want to make the Palestinians look bad and this next story may do that.  That is not my intention.   Palestine is a people and a society and every society has problems. But with Palestine, it's amplified because the problems are more acute and stressed due to the oppression and occupation that they live under.  I haven’t done any research about the story I will write below but I have talked to people about domestic violence in Palestinian society and I have drawn some conclusions that may or may not be accurate but this is what I am thinking. 

A few weeks ago, I went to Jerusalem and on my way back to the West Bank, I walked across the checkpoint, walked through the barrier, down the walled path and then out on to the street. I got passed the mob of taxis and fruit stalls who bombard me on my way home, and I took a left up the next street. As soon as I took a left, I heard screaming and crying and punching.  The sound of punching on human flesh/bone is a horrible sound and nothing like I had ever heard before and nothing like the movies.  I kept walking, knowing that I was about to come upon something.  I looked towards the punching sound and saw a man beating the hell out of someone who was sitting in the front seat of a SUV.  I couldn't see the person he was beating up but I could see that he was using all his force and violence to unleash his anger on whoever his victim was.  I froze.  I stood there watching this man pummel his victim.  Then he whipped her out of the SUV and threw her against it and I could see that it was a woman in hijab.  He continued to punch her in the face as she continued to scream and cry, and I continued to stand there and watch in horror as I witnesses this terrible beating.   As I stood there watching him beat her up, and listening to her scream and cry, I was left baffled. I had no idea what to do, I prayed and asked God for help.  Should I yell at him to stop?  But if I did that then maybe he would come after me, or maybe later she would get it worse because I "rescued" her?  Should I call the police?  What police?  The Palestinian Authority won't do anything about domestic violence.  The Israeli military?  (I was in Area C.)  They don't care about some Hijabed Arab woman getting beat I just stood there and prayed for forgiveness and for her help. I watched for a bit more and with knots in my stomach, and then I walked away.  What else could I do?  Nothing.....

What do you do with that?  Who do you blame?  Where does that go?  How can I process that? She can't leave him.  She is stuck and will probably be abused for the rest of her life with no help.  And he will never get help and will live forever in shame, and fear and betrayal.  Both parties are traumatized.  Both live in fear and hatred of the other.  And there is not much help in their society to remedy this awful situation...divorce is so complicated for her and therapy is shameful for him and for her and the Palestinian police don't really care and the Israeli military definitely doesn't care and no one seems to cares so she lives alone and he lives alone.  

Where does this come from?  Why is there violence?  The man is supposed to protect and take care of the woman and the children.  That is his duty in this world, in our society. But in the Palestinian society, the men are oppressed, traumatized, victimized by the military occupation, they don't get treatment or help and even if they did the next time they are at the checkpoint or have to deal with soldiers’ the trauma would be provoked again.  So the man feels desperate and powerless in his situation so he takes his trauma and hatred and fear out on the female who can't protect or defend herself.  Maybe he takes it out on the kids. It perpetuates the cycle of violence.  The occupation is violent and repressive.  I may be simplifying it and who knows maybe that guy is an alcoholic or maybe she cheated on him and maybe it has less to do with the occupation than anything else.  Women and children are abused by men all over the world not just in Palestine but it makes me wonder about trauma and oppression and the long term effects on a society. When the man feels powerless, where does that energy go?  When you live in constant trauma without healing through it, what are the side effects?  The Palestinians are traumatized daily.  Usually trauma is an isolated incident. Like a person gets raped or gets beaten up or goes to war and they have trauma. Or they had trauma in their childhood and now that they are an adult, it is over.  The trauma ends and then you have what's left, and you have a place to heal from and transform from.  But what about situations like Palestine where it's not an isolated incident, or a messed up childhood, the trauma is a way of life, the trauma can't heal because the next day they will be traumatized again. What happens in a society like that?  Maybe in a society like that, a  woman takes a beating from her boyfriend or husband as an British tourist stands there and helplessly watches and wonders why the world is like this.... 


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