My week in Palestine

paleI went back to Palestine after one year, in order to discuss and finalise two projects of the “Cultura è Libertà” campaign (Culture is freedom, a campaign for Palestine): one with the music school Al kamandjati, the other one with the women association Miftah. The music school of Al kamandjati is situated in an old building of the old city of Ramallah, in a very quiet place where you can only hear the music of some students. But, above the work meetings, mainly in Ramallah, I wanted to try to know and understand better the currentsituation, the rebellion of the youth, the opinions about it. Ramallah is a very quiet and alive place: many peoplein the streets and in the cafes, nationals and internationals. But if you just go a little bit away you can perceive a very tense situation. A friend of mine, Fidaa, who is livingnear El Bireh, talking about the almost daily clashes at the check oint says: “the sky becomes dark because of the gas, we are obliged to shut all the windows, it is a continuous tension”. I call my friends in Nablus, but they strongly recommend me not to go, the road is not safe, there too there aredayly clashes and, what is the worst, every day young people injured or killed.

People opinions are different: some support the youth rebellion against the occupation, others believe that it is completely unuseful. Buth both the opinions have a common point: the school does not educate, does not transmit values, the young people don’t know anything, not even about the recent past. Another common point is the negative opinion about the PNA, about the absence of politics, and of the parties in general. It is unbelievable that facing a “massacre of innocents” like the current one politics is speechless and motionless.

luttoIt is not important to discuss if the rebellion is an “intifada” or not: what is clear is the total failure of the politics, since Oslo accords. No selfcriticism, no strategy for change. During the first intifada there was a whole population supporting the chilfren of stones, society was grassroots organised. Today the children of the stones, and someone with a knife, seem to be alone within an astonished society. All the people denounce a big corruption of the politics, moral degradation, total absence of reference points. The young rebels are some hundreds. A friend’s comment: “they should have a preparation, an education for the fight, so that in the streets there should be thousands.”
It has been interesting to listen to Munther Amir, one of the coordinatore of the popular struggle, I met him in the refugee camp of Aida, below Betlehem, 4000 inhabitants, he lives in the camp, running a youth center where he wants to involve also women. At the center, all the volunteers invent different activities to involve young people, “collecting shells of tear gas, in the camp there are plenty, to create art products for Christmas, we will bring in the Nativity square in Betlehem a big olive tree that has been uprooted by the Israelis, and protest against occupation. We will also go to the checkpoint, reclaiming our right to paray in Jerusalem. And now we started music and traditional dance (dabka) classes” All these efforts aim to give the chance to meet, to socialize in order to avoid thet the young people go out to throw stones to the soldiers, who are nearby. But it is more and more difficult, often we don’t succeed, because soliders enter the camp, they threat and beat, even if all of us declare and act non violent actions. “The problem is that today the youth face not only the poverty and frustration, that is carachteristic of the camp, but the aggression. And they rebel against it. It has been very spontaneous from the beginning, then we tried to organise non violent struggle. Difficult because israeli violence is getting stronger, they don’t arrest, they kill”.

 

Abud-Shadi-Aida-camp
An evidence of that is at the entrance of the camp where there is a big picture of a thirteen years old boy Abdulrahman Abud Shadi who was killed by a sniper. We find a good atmosphere just in the house of a young who was prisoner 20 months in the Israeli prison: as usual in palestine we had a very warm hospitality, with coffee, tea and sweets. We left at the arrival of a group of techers who came to congratulate the young ex prisoner and his family.

I visited Betlehem and it was almost desert: no tourism at all, and this is the drama that the city lives when the situation is tense. Going back to Ramalla, I met a demonstration. Many young boys and some mother with children were asking to have back from Israelis the bodies of the victims. Back home, I found out that the new “antiterrorism law” is forbidding the funerals of the so called “terrorists”, their grabs in unkonown sites and the destruction of their homes within 24 hours. Before the day of my flight to italy, with heart and mind full of questions, I decided to spend my last day in a wonderful place: Jericho. Its archeological places are witnessing the great heritageof Palestine. Sadly it has been during the years bombed and also plundered by the israeli militaries, also with illegal trade of archeological finds. Another aspect of the dispossession policy of the israelis.

Jerico-Hisham-Palace

But the wonderful things in Jericho deserve to be visited: Tell el Sultan (prince’s hill); princes fountain: symbolic sites of the oldest city of the world. And the then the ruines of Hisham palace, (homayyades caliphs). Herods palace til the Wadi el Qelt, in a breathtaking canyon and the monastry of Saint George in Koziba embedded in the rocks.  A grandiose panorama in a splendid day, with a perfect climate. This is the conclusion of my journey in a land where I love people and culture, in a land confined, apparently, in a continuous struggle and resistence, where daily people try to redefine thair own identity and hope.

It is an abstract of the “Comune Info” article (IT) written by Alessandra Mecozzi, LIBERA International volunteer, who was from November 21st to 28th 2015 as coordinator of the “Cultura è Libertà” campaign.