Sunday, December 27, 2009


I took two friends of mine to Jerusalem to the south Hebron Palestinian village of Twane.  It is not even shown on the road map we had.  I met people from there a few months ago on the Center for Emerging Futures weekend.  They were more amused than angry at the fact that I live in a settlement and that I showed up at an Israeli/Palestinian event.

Hubby was nervous at my galavanting around the West Bank, after all, it was just a day or so ago when a settler was shot and killed while driving through the northern part of the West Bank.  I told my husband "I'm doing a mitzvah (good deed).  When you go to do a mitzvah, then you don't have to worry."

I don't know how much of a mitzvah it was, because all I was doing was giving the villagers a few sweaters of mine that I hadn't worn in two years and nothing else.  But I felt that they needed to know that Israelis cared about them and so going there would make a difference and give them some sense of hope.

We drove on Route 60, past the Jewish settlements of Carmel and Maon and a bit after that was the small shanty of a place called Twane where our host met with us, as well as a few Italians from an organization called "Dove".  We sat in a small room and our host told us his or their story.  In the 80s the Israeli government drove them off the land and some few years later they were told that they could return.  However, since their land is in Area C, this means that they can't build anything - no homes, no schools, no medical clinics, nothing.  In fact, there is a small electric generator which gives them electricity for only three hours a day, which they use during evening hours.  As for water, they draw them from wells.  There is very little running water.  They managed to get their roads paved, but we hear there is a demolition order for the road, the first floor (!) of the clinic and the school, which were all built without permits - because they would never get permits to build. 

Medical clinic - there's a demolition order for the first floor only!

On top of all this, they are below the Jewish settlement of Havat Maon, whose residents terrorize them often, which is the reason for international presence in their village.

A handsome young man coming out of the tiny mosque saw me taking a photo of a local woman drawing water from her well. 

Local Mosque

Drawing water

He tells me in Arabic about how they don't have water because of "the Jews".  I look at him.  Do I  or don't I tell him who I am.  I tell him.  "I'm Jewish.  And I'm sorry."  He looks at me. 
"Not all Jews of course, only the Zionists."  I sigh.

The kids of the village are walking around barefoot and the one little girl I see is wearing shoes a few sizes too big.

Local kid and a friend

another kid - same friend

Our host is telling us that he is looking forward to a gathering of Israelis and Palestinians later on - perhaps to plan a summer camp for Israeli and Palestinian children.  I told him I'd love to join the planning group.  He seems happy.

One woman invites me in to see some embroidered stuff she is selling.  I buy a woven straw plate for pita.  It was made in the village.  She is charging me 70 shekels for it and I know I'm being overcharged, but I wouldn't dare bargain about the price.  I pay it and tell my friends, she needs this money.  They understand and are glad that I bought something because they hadn't.

On the way back, they ask me "How do you still have hope?"

I tell them - "Look at the way these people live.  Their daily life is so difficult.  But yet, they still want to work and meet with Israelis in the hope that one day, the government will come to its senses and give them the bare minimum necessary - like water and electricity.  That's all they ask for. Instead of getting violent, they prefer to meet with Israelis and let them know of their hardships.  That's so commendable, since they get harrassed so frequently.  If I were in their place, I don't think I'd be as patient."

Afterwards at my friends' home, we were so contemplative.  I wondered to myself if the Israeli government would see that the villagers are a quiet lot, and if there is no trouble coming from that village, couldn't they just let them have electricity and water?  And then after a few more years of quiet, could they not let them build?  Wouldn't that be more constructive than constantly issuing demolition orders?

Ancient stone residences

 I wondered if I had made a mistake taking my friends there, as it was a heavy trip - very emotional to see and hear these things.  My friends avoid newspapers and hearing the news, because they prefer to just focus on positive things in life.  And this was like hearing the news.  But they assured me that they needed to hear and see what was going on and thanked me for taking them to places they would not see otherwise.


Ahavah-Shim'on said...

You continue to inspire me... the thing that is most important to me is that in the UK the news - very very little - is ridiculously biased - its warming to hear what you do.

May HaShem protect you and yours always and keep you very very safe.

ilona@israel said...

i never leave the car passing arab villages i would never do the thing you did. you are very brave woman and you did right thing. yes they have to know that israeli people care about them.

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Rabbi Lars Shalom said...

your friend is so pretty

Monica said...

Hi..It's very nice to read your blog.. I am an architecture student,currently doing my thesis for master degree in Germany and actually, my project is in Jerusalem. I went to Jerusalem last November 2010 for site survey. It was very nice experience and also weird experience. Besides Jerusalem, I went to Betlehem, Dead Sea and Tel Aviv. I feel weird because I don't feel there is a conflict there but when I went to Palestinian settlement..I can feel the conflict..urbicide...the wall specially and the checkpoints..when I interviewed the Palestinian and Israeli..I can feel it's so frustrating as well to do my project in the beginning..if I keep thinking about this political conflict, there is no architect who can do something's like impossible..hands off architect..