Jenin, a mid-sized town in the northern
The ecosystem is akin to the high desert of eastern Oregon and Washington: dry, rocky, scrub bushes, hardy plants, grasses, tough dry pines similar to digger pines in the west central California hills, and, of course, olive trees. The colors of the land in February are grass green, olive leaf silver-grey, beige sandstone streaked with orange, blue, peach, goat-brown, wild flower reds and purples and yellows. The land is not wild as it is in
Anyone will tell you that there are many problems in Jenin. Of course there are many problems everywhere, but their shape varies according to locality. Few people outside
A local man described occupation this way: “They want the land without the people.” It is a colonial process, similar in ways to how
Problems here are layered like trash in an abandoned lot: an existing road to these same settlements runs through the middle of town, bisecting the Palestinian road from east to west Abba. Soldiers often park jeeps and APCs on the settlement road, arbitrarily blocking grade school children and teachers from attending class.
A friend once told me, “all wars are wars of acquisition.” The goal of occupation is blindingly clear: take the land, take the resources, and destroy whoever and whatever gets in the way. The question of how religious, ethnic, or ancient this conflict may be does not excuse continued land theft and human rights violations. History is a text which we may learn from, which we can use to formulate creative solutions to present-day problems. History should not be fuel to feed the fires of continued oppression. If
Armed resistance takes various forms including bombings directed at military installations and settlements in the occupied territories, as well as civilian targets within
In April 2002, the Israeli army invaded Jenin refugee camp, destroyed 200 homes, and killed 52 people. This incident has been called a massacre, a Palestinian propaganda lie, and a tragic consequence of modern urban war tactics. Walking down the road from old Jenin to Jenin camp one can see wrecked shops, broken cider block structures charred black, shattered windows in apartment buildings, and a sha’hiid graveyard surrounded by eucalyptus and orange trees, decorated with colorful banners, flowers, and sentimental offerings left by mourners. It is just like any graveyard anywhere except that the colors are brighter and all the people buried in it died because of occupation.
The day before yesterday tanks drove into the center of Jenin. They drove down the main street into town, turned around, drove away, turned around, came back, shot a10 year old boy in the leg, and left. I saw him at the hospital. Maybe he threw a rock at the tank; maybe not. Later that night another child came by the ISM apartment. He wore a plaster cast on his left foot and used a broom handle for a crutch. He is an otherwise healthy 12 year old with a mischievous playful glint in his eyes. Soldiers shot him in the foot from a tank.
Downtown Jenin is busy with shops, bakeries, falafel stands, outdoor fruit and vegetable vendors, yellow and pink signs in calligraphic Arabic, carefully stacked piles of strawberries, bananas hanging like chandeliers in clumps on thick green stalks, men sitting, drinking tea, fiddling with Islamic prayer beads, eating, Mercedes taxis, the occasional Volkswagen beetle or van. This is a passionate, social culture. People sit close together, touch each other often. Life goes on in all its confusion and beauty despite military invasions. With careful attention, however, one can see street signs crushed into twisted scrap metal, bullet holes in supporting columns, places where asphalt has been broken by tank treads.
People here know the
It is wonderful how virtually everyone here understands the difference between the people of a nation and its government. Hopefully more Americans will grasp this distinction soon. Today I went into a small metal shop to ask for water. Of course the workers invited me to sit and drink coffee. Surrounded by engines in various states of disassembly, welding projects, an oxyacetylene torch, and sundry tools of the trade, I sat with Nasser and Mahkmood. When informed that I am from
Generally people respect me for the same reason they respect me anywhere: because I behave respectfully toward them. Yosef Al Doctor (Yosef the doctor), a 23 year old man from Jenin refugee camp, recently began calling me “William Bush.” At first I got angry and tried to explain that I don’t support