Jerusalem

15, 16, 17 January 2009

I arrive in Palestine with deep solidarity with the Palestinian people and their struggle against the occupation, and with empathy for the oppression and injustice they suffer. Also with admiration, as I talk to some of the Palestinians here in East Jerusalem; they are very strong and have a lot of hope. Some of them willingly discuss the conflict and the political situation with me and tell me that they are never giving up the struggle for freedom and peace with justice.
However, I do notice the hopelessness and frustration over the current situation in Gaza especially. One man told me he doesn't believe that Israel wants peace at all. Israel's recent actions are certainly counterproductive to achieving a prospect for peace. They rather express the unwillingness for negotiation and dialogue which could lead to a ceasefire and in the long run to a more peaceful situation.
He said that he believes that Israel aims to divide the Palestinians in Gaza and in the Vest Bank. He reflected upon whether a chaotic situation in the Palestinian societies could be in the interest of Israel and why it might be this way. Israel's policy of several decades is of domination and exploitation, expansion of Israeli territory through illegal occupation and ultimately a zero-sum approach to the conflict. A rejection to make sacrifices which are required in any peace deal.
The people I have talked to are naturally very disappointed in the UN's inadequacy in intervening in Gaza and preventing the cathastrophe unfolding there. One man told me that he was especially angry because the international society is letting the massacre in Gaza happen.

Friday morning people here are grieving the death of the Hamas leader, Said Siyam, and his family, killed in Gaza last night. I had no idea what had happened, but it was explained to me and I was shown pictures in the news paper. The pictures we see in the Western media are nothing compared to these images. .
Checkpoints had been set up several places here in East Jerusalem, due to unrest and demonstrations.

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People Power! Palestinian women protesting against the occupation, East Jerusalem 16 January 2009. They are singing the national song of Palestine and calling out against the injustice they experience as well as the attack on Gaza.

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….and the Israeli police mob, humiliating the women. There are at least 4 policemen pr. woman activist. One of the women was arrested after the demonstration. She had apparently called one of the policemen a "nazi".

These women are using non-violent action to resist the occupation. They appear much more powerful than the police and military mob carrying machine guns next to them. Their fight is brave and authentic, in contrast to the ridiculous police and military force surrounding them like a swarm of bees gone crazy.

Military power can never create peace, it creates the opposite, that is; direct and structural violence, hatred and humiliation.
Gandhi said: "There is no way to peace, peace is the way."

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Clashes between Israeli soldiers and young Palestinians throwing stones, at the Checkpoint Qualandia, nearby Ramallah, 16 January 2009.
These young men are not posing any threat to the soldiers, the only weapon they have is some rocks. Still they are met with the firering of tear gas and are being shot at by heavily equipped soldiers.
A while after I took these pictures and we left the place, we were told that six of the Palestinian boys were shot and wounded by the Israeli soldiers.
At the same time, in Hebron, a Palestinian boy was shot and killed by an Israeli soldier.

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Israeli Soldiers by Separation Wall at Checkpoint Qualandia, nearby Ramallah, 16 January 2009
It was a bit creepy to be so close to these soldiers, with all their gear; the absurdity of the situation, the gross unproportionality of their opponent; the vulnerability of the Palestinian youth on the other side. I can only start to imagine the aggression and frustration that drives these young men to try to resist the military power, the humiliation they feel when resisting an occupation so much stronger than themselves.
The reality here is somehow absurd, like I just entered a movie where the plot has gone fundamentally astray, and everything is in the hands of some irrational and mad force.

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Soldiers getting ready to attack the Palestinian boys close to the Seperation wall, Checkpoint Qualandia, 16 January 2009
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Checkpoint Qualandia, 16 January 2009
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Clashes between Palestinian boys throwing stones and the Israeli military firing tear gas and shooting rubber bullets.
Checkpoint Qualandia, 16 January 2009
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I Come From There

by Mahmoud Darwish

I come from there and I have memories
Born as mortals are, I have a mother
And a house with many windows,
I have brothers, friends,
And a prison cell with a cold window.
Mine is the wave, snatched by sea-gulls,
I have my own view,
And an extra blade of grass.
Mine is the moon at the far edge of the words,
And the bounty of birds,
And the immortal olive tree.
I walked this land before the swords
Turned its living body into a laden table.

I come from there. I render the sky unto her mother,
When the sky weeps for her mother.
And I weep to make myself known
To a returning cloud.
I learnt all the words worthy of the court of blood,
So that I could break the rule.
I learnt all the words and broke them up,
To make a single word: Homeland….

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Jerusalem, the Old City, 17 January 2009

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