Sunday, April 17, 2011

Green Intifada: Real News from the West Bank

Addressing workers on the Wall in Al Walaja
Ridgely Fuller of CODEPINK Greater Boston is in the West Bank, occupied Palestine, right now. She sent us this encouraging message of hope and cooperative determination amid injustice.

Hi All,
It is so hard to believe that this trip is half over today! The time is passing so quickly and there remains so much I want to do in the days left. No matter where I have been since the last email I keep being drawn back to the village of Beit Ommar...captivated when I walk a path to buy bread on a sunny morning, stick my head in an open door along the way saying "marhaba" and have the folks inside laughingly respond 'Hi 'Ridgely' without even seeing me..and then when  returning via a wrong route be  redirected by groups of smiling (unsolicited) angels?

I have tried to describe how much this Town has and continues to suffer at the hands of the Israeli settlers and their military backup...yet despite this daily oppression, wonderful things have happened during the past year. The Popular Committee in Beit Ommar has secured a Center for Freedom and Justice which holds committee meetings of farmers, students, women and the popular committee. This is a beautiful building high on a hill whose location was purposefully chosen as it  is counterpoised and overlooks the Israeli military watchtower at the entrance to the village. A recently acquired bullet hole in a window testifies to these 'dueling' symbols.
Center for Freedom and Justice, Beit Ommar
During the past year the Center and the Committee have planted 3000 trees, held a women s conference with over 400  Israeli and Palestinian women, organized a large Land Day Festival  with a cultural display and run a summer camp for over 300 children. Currently the Center is writing 3 grants for a library,a womens run honeybee cooperative and a green house program that will not only provide income to  families but also grow olive seedlings to replace those uprooted by settlers.
Finally, since last year there have been weekly nonviolent demonstrations organized against the settlements. One was supposed to be held yesterday but  was canceled as in the morning a farmer died when his tractor turned over. Last time there was a death in the village the settlers shot two Palestinians in the funeral procession and the military punished the town (never the offending settlers!) by closing off access and yesterday was spent not knowing what would happen. As the family did not want the military to have an excuse to close the town, they quietly buried the farmer themselves.

I have also spent time with amazing Awad whose single handed 'Green Intifada' dream organizes farmers to reclaim their land through Israeli courts, then helps them through massive cooperative replanting. Last year we speedily replanted a hill in Umm Salamuna,preventing it from being absorbed by the Efrat settlement. Since then he has helped secure water and electricity for the area! Last week we went to Al Walaja, very near Bethlehem, whose remains are rapidly being swallowed up by the Wall. He spoke with the Palestinians working on the Wall telling them about the PA providing alternative jobs, where to access them, and that by August 25 any Palestinian worker on the Wall or in settlements will face arrest.
Awad and Beit Ommar show that resistance to Israeli occupation and land theft takes many creative forms! Awad is tireless; after our visit to Al Walajah we go  visit a farmer whose children on a lame donkey he met the previous day. Awad discovered the subsistence farm was cut off from any water supply and is now arranging to bring in water tanks and permaculture ideas to help this very proud man provide for his family. I got to lend a hand by helping the farmer examine his donkey's lameness .. .thanks to time on the farm in Sherborn!

I am now off to another town to visit a friends in Bayt Ta'mar..a great family I  met and stayed with last year. Zenab kind of taught me to make flat bread in an outside beehive oven fueled by the sheeps dung. Hope she has no expectations re my culinary skills today..

take care all,   Ridgely

Al'Masara, symbol of Palestine. We take the 'high road' but they have the weapons

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