16 December 2007

Experimental Broadcasting from Hebron

This is an experiment in broadcasting from Hebron via Issa's house in Tel Rumeida. Add it to your bookmarks and be sure to check it on a regular basis to find out the lastest news in my favorite city in Palestine.

19 November 2007

Occupation 101

Here is a website where you can watch Occupation 101 in its entirety for free! Yes, really, it is free! Just let it run through once in the background, until it finishes buffering then you can watch uninterrupted. It took roughly 30 minutes to completely buffer over a DSL line. Here is a brief synopsis from this website:

A thought-provoking and powerful documentary film on the current and historical root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Unlike any other film ever produced on the conflict -- 'Occupation 101' presents a comprehensive analysis of the facts and hidden truths surrounding the never ending controversy and dispels many of its long-perceived myths and misconceptions.

The film also details life under Israeli military rule, the role of the United States in the conflict, and the major obstacles that stand in the way of a lasting and viable peace. The roots of the conflict are explained through first-hand on-the-ground experiences from leading Middle East scholars, peace activists, journalists, religious leaders and humanitarian workers whose voices have too often been suppressed in American media outlets.

The film covers a wide range of topics -- which include -- the first wave of Jewish immigration from Europe in the 1880's, the 1920 tensions, the 1948 war, the 1967 war, the first Intifada of 1987, the Oslo Peace Process, Settlement expansion, the role of the United States Government, the second Intifada of 2000, the separation barrier and the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, as well as many heart wrenching testimonials from victims of this tragedy.

27 October 2007

Palestinian Children Detained

I volunteered my time helping out with the Friendship and Solidarity Summer Camp in Tel Rumeida for two-weeks in July while also teaching my ESL and yoga classes with Art Under Apartheid. The summer camp was a great program for the kids of Tel Rumeida to escape the everyday stresses of life under Israeli occupation. The best thing about the summer camp was the field trips. This particular field trip that I'm reporting on though was full of irony. Read more to find out why.

On Saturday, July 21, 2007 the Tel Rumeida Friendship and Solidarity Summer Camp, which included 100 children and 7 adult International and Palestinian volunteers, went on a solidarity field trip to the tiny village of At-Tuwani, located in the South Hebron Hills region just south of the city of Hebron. The people of Tuwani live very simple lives with very little electricity and running water and without modern conveniences. Since the early 1980s, when Israeli settlers began establishing outposts on the lands surrounding the village, the Palestinians in this area have struggled to maintain their community. Soon after the settlers arrived they began attacking Palestinian shepherds and farmers, uprooting Tuwani’s olive trees and stealing their sheep. Tuwani falls within the section of the occupied West Bank most dominated by the Israeli government’s authority. The Israeli army also therefore began destroying the Palestinians homes and mosques, arguing that villagers had not obtained official permits to build on the land. Attacks from both settlers and soldiers continue today.

Before 1980 there were approximately 750 villagers, today there are less than 200 left due to the attacks and violence that make life unbearable. The Christian Peacemakers Team have a daily presence in the area which includes escorting the Palestinian children to school to help them avoid being stoned to death by settler children.

The purpose of this field trip was to give the children of Tel Rumeida and Tuwani contact with each other in order to create a union of solidarity with one another despite the distance between their homes as well as the differences in their lifestyles. The children of Tel Rumeida were able to experience life in a different way and gain more knowledge on the extent of the occupation in Palestine.

Issa Amro, a Palestinian anti-violent activist, led discussions with the children citing that there are both good and bad Palestinians and Israelis. His goal was not only to develop solidarity amongst the Palestinian children but to open their minds to forming friendships with Israelis and to learn to recognize the good in everyone.

After touring the tiny village we walked back to the bus to find that we were being detained by the Israeli Occupation Force (IOF) soldiers.

This was due to some questions the soldiers had about the Palestinian bus driver's paperwork. The bus driver was in the process of changing his paperwork from Israel to Palestine, but everything was in order and legal as we found out in the end. However, this did not stop the soldiers from detaining us for over 2 hours in the 85F/32C + weather, with no shade or cover and without water as our water supplies quickly ran out.

I made phone calls to the Red Crescent Society only to find out that they were closed on the weekend. What? That's crazy! Other volunteers made phone calls as well, including the US Embassy. No one came to rescue us except the police who continued to detain us. Imagine being detained for 2 hours in the heat with 100 little kids! Well, let me say that I applaud these children. Children in the US would have never been able to hold up under this kind of intense pressure. These Palestinian kids are unfortunately used to being treated this way. Occupation and detainment are part of everyday life for them.

Instead of whining and crying about why this was happening to them they decided to be proactive and form their own little demonstration! I felt so proud of them and still do! I remember my eyes filling up with tears while filming this protest. They are shouting "Bidna rouweh, bidna rouweh !” which means “we want to go, we want to go !” Here are video clips:

Eventually we were released. We were scheduled to move on down the road about 5km to the town of Sousiya. However, due to the length of time we were detained we could not visit this town. The children were deeply disappointed but never once complained. I think the international volunteers complained more than anyone. It is very difficult to experience this type of treatment. We did continue on to Quawis, another little village. Here we were able to refill our water bottles with fresh spring water and explore the caves that these people live in. Yes, these villagers live in caves.

The settlers in the surrounding always end up destroying any homes that they build. Even ICAHD comes out and helps them rebuild the homes only to find that it is destroyed within months. However, ICAHD and the Palestinians do not give up! I will write more about this town in another post.

Israeli Soldiers shoot at Palestinian Protesters

This occurred in the neighborhood where I stayed for 6-weeks this past summer. To understand the Palestinian point of view you need to read this article recently posted on the ISM website.

This just makes me feel so bad and angry. Watch the soldiers in this video. Their behavior is so immature and unjust. It's a ridiculous waste of US tax dollars. Also, listen to what the soldiers say in response to being filmed. They never want anyone to document their unethical actions.

30 September 2007

Settler children attacking Palestinian kids coming home from school

This video is from June 2006. The girls are coming back from the Quturba School. This is the school that was set on fire recently and where I taught at the Friendship and Solidarity camp. You can see the settlement across from the school as well as the dirt trail the girls have to walk on everyday and the steep stairs they must climb. The police and soldiers didn't work too hard in the video to stop the settler girls, this is typical in Tel Rumeida.

21 September 2007

Key Terms in the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict

Many of you have mentioned to me that some of terms I use, such as settlers and settlements, are not fully understood. So, I am copying from the BBC website a list of important terms that are often used when discussing issues relating to Palestine and Israel.

BBC publishes list of "key terms" used in Israel-Palestinian conflict
News, BBC News Online, Oct 19, 2006

The BBC Governors' independent panel report on the impartiality of BBC coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict recommended that the BBC should make public an abbreviated version of its journalists' guide to facts and terminology. The following list of terms used in the conflict, their definitions, and notes for their correct usage, reveals a news organization trying to find a balance between accurate reporting and leaning towards the semantics of the Israeli side in the conflict.



The BBC's responsibility is to remain impartial and report in ways that enable our audiences to make their own assessments.

Our credibility is undermined by the careless use of words which carry emotional or value judgements.

If an event falls within the dictionary definition of assassination, then we can use the term but the word "killed" or "killing" may be perfectly adequate.

Plain simple language is preferable to more complex or emotive language. If we have more precise details of exactly why or how the killing took place, we should communicate that in an equally straightforward way. The phrase "targeted killing" is sometimes used by Israel and should be attributed.


BBC journalists should try to avoid using terminology favoured by one side or another in any dispute.

The BBC uses the terms "barrier", "separation barrier" or "West Bank barrier" as acceptable generic descriptions to avoid the political connotations of "security fence" (preferred by the Israeli government) or "apartheid wall" (preferred by the Palestinians).

The United Nations also uses the term "barrier".

Of course, a reporter standing in front of a concrete section of the barrier might choose to say "this wall" or use a more exact description in the light of what he or she is looking at.


Be careful with this word. Do you mean boundary? See Green Line.


It is better to avoid clich�s wherever possible. This one does nothing to explain any of the underlying causes of the conflict and may indeed obscure them.


Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and annexed it in 1981 but its claim to the area is not recognised internationally. Instead, under international law, East Jerusalem is considered to be occupied territory.

For example, the Foreign Office says it "regards the status of Jerusalem as still to be determined in permanent status negotiations between the parties. Pending agreement, we recognise de facto Israeli control of West Jerusalem but consider East Jerusalem to be occupied territory. We recognise no sovereignty over the city".

We should seek out words that factually describe the reality on the ground and which are not politically loaded.

Avoid saying East Jerusalem "is part" of Israel or suggesting anything like it. Avoid the phrase "Arab East Jerusalem", too, unless you also have space to explain that Israel has annexed the area and claims it as part of its capital. East Jerusalem is sometimes referred as Arab East Jerusalem, partly because it was under Jordanian control between 1949 and 1967.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state of Palestine.

The BBC should say East Jerusalem is "occupied" if it is relevant to the context of the story.

For example: "Israel has occupied East Jerusalem since 1967. It annexed the area in 1981 and sees it as its exclusive domain. Under international law the area is considered to be occupied territory."


See Barrier.


In 2005, Israel completed the withdrawal of all its troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip. It retains control of the airspace, seafront and all vehicle access - including deliveries of food and other goods.

All movement in and out of the Gaza Strip is controlled by Israeli authorities, except, officially, the pedestrian-only crossing between Gaza and Egypt which is meant to be controlled by Palestinians and Egyptians with the presence of EU monitors.

The situation is, however, fluid - Israel has been able to force its closure since the capture of Corporal Shalit in 2006.

Under international law, Israel is still the occupying power in Gaza, although it no longer has a permanent military presence there.

We need to be careful with our language so as not to give the impression that the BBC is favouring one side's position. In BBC programmes it is more accurate to talk about an "end to Israel's permanent military presence" rather than the end of occupation.


The Green Line marks the boundary between Israel and the West Bank. It is properly referred to as the 1949 Armistice Line - the ceasefire line of 1949.

The exact borders of Israel and a future Palestinian state are subject to negotiation between the two parties. The Palestinians want a complete end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, and use the phrase to mean a return to the pre-4th June 1967 borders.

In describing the situation on the ground take care to use the most precise and accurate terminology.

The Green Line is a dividing line or a boundary. If you call it a border you may inadvertently imply that it has internationally recognised status, which it does not currently have.

To that end, we can call the Green Line "the generally recognised boundary between Israel and the West Bank."


The usual guidelines about paying due regard to the context in which words are used should be carefully considered if we are referring to the causes of the uprising.

Our credibility is undermined by the careless use of words which carry emotional or value judgements. So, for example, it is preferable to say that "Sharon's visit and Palestinian frustration at the failure of the peace process sparked the (second) intifada or uprising" rather than it "led" to it or "started" it.


The status of Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive and complex issues of the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its status is dependent on a final agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Between 1949 and 1967, the city was divided into Israeli controlled West Jerusalem, and Jordanian controlled East Jerusalem. Israel currently claims sovereignty over the entire city, and claims it as its capital, after capturing East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 war.

That claim is not recognised internationally and East Jerusalem is considered to be occupied territory.

See East Jerusalem.


Be careful over whether you mean "Israeli" or "Jewish": the latter might imply that the story is about race or religion, rather than the actions of the state or its citizens.

Some "experts" may have a history of sympathising with one cause or another even if they have no overt affiliation.

It is preferable, where time and space allow, to provide a lengthier indication of the contributor's views on past issues so that the audience might calibrate his or her statements for themselves.

In all reporting we should avoid generalisations, bland descriptions and loose phrases which in fact tell us little about a contributor or event. The phrase "Middle East expert" implies the BBC thinks this person's views have weight and independence. If we can defend that judgement - that's fine. If not it may be better to avoid the phrase.

Overall, we should seek a precise description - for example, what job does this person hold? Who employs them? Where do they stand in the debate?


The general phrase "occupied territories" refers to East Jerusalem, the West Bank and strictly speaking the Golan Heights. However, it is not usually understood to refer to the Golan Heights (unless it is in a story specifically on the 1967 war or Syrian-Israeli relations).

It is advisable to avoid trying to find another formula, although the phrase "occupied West Bank" can also be used.

Under international law, Israel is still the occupying power in Gaza, although it no longer has a permanent military presence there. See that section for our use of language.

Try not to confuse the phrase "occupied territories" with Palestinian Land or Palestinian Territories. (See those sections for the reasons why.)

The Israeli government's preferred phrase to describe the West Bank and Gaza Strip is "disputed territories" and it is reasonable to use this when it is clear that we are referring to or explaining its position.


Be careful that you don't mean settlements. They are very different. Outposts are usually little more than a few caravans occupying a hilltop.

They serve a dual purpose - firstly to create new facts on the ground and expand the land included in the adjoining settlement; secondly, to defy the Israeli government and show the strength of the settler movement.

Some of these outposts are called "unauthorised outposts" by the Israeli government - generally meaning no permission was granted for them. You can describe an outpost as unauthorised by the Israeli government if that is accurate and relevant to the specific case you are considering.

It is generally advisable not to refer to "illegal" outposts (they are all illegal and if you call one illegal some may assume that others are not).

Generally it's a good rule to question the use of any adjective. Use it only if it is vital to the understanding of the story and you are confident that it precisely applies in this context.


There is no independent state of Palestine today, although the stated goal of the peace process is to establish a state of Palestine alongside a state of Israel.

So be careful with the use of the word "Palestine" as its meaning can depend on the context.

For example, it can refer to historical Palestine or it can refer to a future state of Palestine living side by side with Israel as envisaged in the Roadmap.


This phrase has become more widely used by politicians and broadcasters to refer to the Occupied Territories, for example to explain why the construction of settlements is considered illegal by the UN.

Critics of the phrase say it is not strictly accurate because, for example, the West Bank was captured from Jordan in 1967.

The BBC Governors considered this issue in a complaint which was referred to in the programme complaints bulletin of July 2004. Their decision was that, although the complainant objected to references to "Palestinian land" and "Arab land", these terms "appropriately reflected the language of UN resolutions."


Strictly speaking, the phrase Palestinian Territories refers to the areas that fall under the administration of the Palestinian Authority.

They are difficult to work out, because of the way the West Bank was divided into complex security zones under the Oslo Accords and because of changes on the ground since the outbreak of violence in September 2000.

The phrase is not the most accurate shorthand for the Occupied Territories although President Bush referred to "Palestinian territories" in his 2005 State of the Union address.


This phrase, in the wrong context, can suggest the two sides are returning to the negotiation process of the 1990s, when they would sit down and try to hammer out an agreement.

An attempt to rebuild trust and relations is not quite the same as proper negotiations.

So it is better to avoid the term entirely unless it is in an historical sense - referring to the discussions of the 1990s, or to a revival of talks at that level.


It is better to avoid cliches wherever possible. People may die each day, in small numbers, in "periods of relative calm" so that the cumulative death toll is actually larger than the casualties involved in a single high profile news event such as a bomb attack.
There may be times when the phrase is accurate. So use it carefully when the facts tell us that there really is such a period of quiet.


We should try to specify who would like to return and to where.

There is a Palestinian demand that Palestinians "who fled or were forced out of their homes" during the 1948 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars have the right to return to their homes.

There is a dispute between the two sides over why they are refugees, so the previous phrase is a useful one that reflects the two different views.

Israel has Right of Return legislation, which allows Jews to settle in Israel and receive Israeli citizenship.


Settlements are residential areas built by Israelis in the occupied territories. They are illegal under international law: this is the position of the UN Security Council and the UK government among others - although Israel rejects this.

When writing a story about settlements we can aim, where relevant, to include context to the effect that "all settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this".


It is best, wherever possible, to be precise about geography when putting a figure to the number of Israeli settlers.

Because of disputes and sensitivities about the status of East Jerusalem, the following construction is useful: "There are thought to be around 430,000 Israeli settlers living in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and another 20,000 in the Golan Heights."


Note the BBC producer guidelines which state: "We must report acts of terror quickly, accurately, fully and responsibly. We should not adopt other people's language as our own. Our credibility is undermined by the careless use of words which carry emotional or value judgements. The word "terrorist" itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding. We should try to avoid the term, without attribution. It is also usually inappropriate to use words like "liberate", "court martial" or "execute" in the absence of a clear judicial process. We should let other people characterise while we report the facts as we know them. We should convey to our audience the full consequences of the act by describing what happened. We should use words which specifically describe the perpetrator such as "bomber", "attacker", "gunmen", "kidnapper", "insurgent" or "militant."

Our responsibility is to remain impartial and report in ways that enable our audiences to make their own assessments about who is doing what to whom.


See Barrier.

20 August 2007

Teaching Under Apartheid in Palestine

When I first decided to go to Palestine to teach kids English and yoga my main concerns were managing the kids’ behavior, assessing their needs and maintaining their interest. After all, those are the most challenging issues I face everyday in my classroom in Philadelphia. In the US I rarely get through an entire unit and to actually teach without a behavior related incident interrupting class is a very rare event. I quickly found it to be quite the opposite in Tel Rumeida which left me feeling like a fish out of water in the beginning.

I arrived in Palestine on a Tuesday, attended nonviolent resistance training about Tel Rumeida on Wednesday which was extremely intimidating yet necessary and helpful. I hung out in Jerusalem on Thursday and headed to Tel Rumeida on Friday to observe Katie’s art class and to meet some of the kids I would be teaching as well as the person who would help me translate in the classroom. The kids were very well behaved for Katie. They seemed to be very motivated and enjoyed her lesson. This was a good sign. The translator, a local university student named Ibrahim, helped more than I expected. I began to worry that language was going to be a larger barrier than I was used to at home since my Arabic was limited at the time to only basic greetings. At home I can speak my students’ language enough to translate on my own.

Ibrahim helped organize the classes of which each consisted of 10-15 kids. One class for girls under the age of 12, one for girls over 12 years and one for boy up to 12 years. Their levels varied in reading and writing but they were all around the emergent or beginner level in listening and speaking, therefore this is where I decided to focus my lessons. As any experienced teacher knows it can take several weeks sometimes months to get into a groove, so I didn’t want to waste anytime as I was only going to be teaching English 3 days a week, an hour each session, for a total of 4-weeks. As for the yoga, this would be 1 day a week for an hour. I knew that would be a brand new experience for the kids so I was also a little worried about how they would perceive me and the concept of yoga overall. Sometimes in very religious communities, such as Tel Rumeida, people view yoga as taboo or voodoo. I knew that I would need to be sensitive to their cultural and religious beliefs.

English Lessons

We started classes immediately the following day. I was a bit nervous because not only did I want them to like me and enjoy the classes but I also wanted them to learn to speak English. We started out with simple questions and responses such as “What is your name?” “My name is Roba.” And “How old are you?” “I am 8 years old.” I need to mention that they all came to class fully prepared to learn with pencils and notebooks and of course enthusiasm and an intense interest in learning English. A stark contrast to the kids I teach in the US who rarely come to class prepared. I was kind of shocked when one student forgot her notebook and Ibrahim told her to go home and get it and not to forget next time or she will not be allowed to come to class. He mentioned that it is unacceptable to come to school unprepared in Palestine. Unfortunately being unprepared is more of the norm where I teach.

After assessing their levels I needed to create an entire unit as this was my own project and a curriculum was not being provided. I was a bit worried because I had never really taught without the aid of a curriculum but welcomed the freedom to be as creative as I wanted. I had brought along a few of my own materials which included workbooks for photocopying, phonics readers, music language CDs, and a book for lesson planning ideas. I then relied on the Internet and fellow teaching friends at home for other creative ideas. I was also able to pick up other materials in Hebron and Ramallah, for less than half the price it would have cost in the US. Sometimes it was difficult because I could not find enough manipulatives relative to the lessons so I needed to improvise more often than not. Also, I typically teach up to the 4th grade at home, or up to 11 years old, and in Tel Rumeida I had high school students mixed into the classes. I took advantage of the situation by having the older students assist the younger ones.

Once I got a better feel for how comfortable they were speaking, and everyone seemed to enjoy the opportunity to speak as most children do, I decided to create a base goal for the lessons. The goal was to be able to communicate with internationals basically in case of an emergency. The majority of the lessons consisted of building vocabulary such as settlers, settlement, throw and rocks as well as directional prepositions, how to give directions and follow commands, how to describe things and people and how to read a map of their own community. I was told that this was the first time they ever saw a map of Tel Rumeida. Amazing! I felt a little sad and uneasy teaching for this purpose in the beginning but the lessons needed to reflect upon their personal experiences, and unfortunately this was their reality. Of course, we did find time to escape and talk about other things such as their homes and families.

I ended up not being so concerned about their level of interest in learning because they were always so eager and enthusiastic and participated even when I thought the lesson was not going as well as I as wanted or if the content was a bit difficult. I even gave them homework assignments which most of them did with such enthusiasm and pride that I brought most of their work back with me to show my students here at home. Perhaps I’ll be able to set a spark in students’ motivation here. I really think that my students here can learn something from the kids in Tel Rumeida.

Even some of the international volunteers would report back to me that the kids would approach them and ask them the questions I was asking during our lessons such as “Where are you from?” and then explain the proper way to respond. The most amusing incident I recall hearing about followed a lesson on commands. I taught the kids things like stand up, sit down, touch your toes for use in our yoga lessons. After the lesson they approached the internationals sitting at their posts and yelled to them to stand up and sit down. The internationals were amused and played along. I would also fill in the internationals on what I was teaching and how they could help. Everyone did their best to reinforce the lessons. It was really a community effort.

Yoga classes

Yoga classes were held for one hour, one day a week. I have to admit that the yoga classes were the most enjoyable for both me and the kids. My worries about their perceptions of yoga were quickly diminished after the first class. Not only was it a great way for them to learn English and exercise but it was a great way for all of us to bond. Even the boys enjoyed it! The older girls focused more on holding positions and proper positioning while the younger ones allowed themselves to be silly and fall where their bodies took them. I taught them how to relieve stress through breathing exercises which I hope they practice in the future. We sang songs to help them remember series of positions like sun salutations which the little ones thoroughly enjoyed belting out at the top of their lungs! They were so flexible and willing to try any position. It was nice to see them smiling and full of energy!

It was also especially nice to see the older girls exercising and having fun. In Tel Rumeida you do not see girls outside. They spend most of their time inside their own homes, visiting friends in their homes or within the confines of the grounds of their family’s home. They rarely get to run around and exercise. Some of the girls were aware of stretching exercises that they said they learned from television and gym class at school. Yoga though was new to them and they initially associated it with meditation. They seemed really eager to learn more once they experienced it. I always felt on top of the world after a yoga session with them.


The most impressive thing besides being able to actually teach and not have to constantly be interrupted for discipline problems was that the younger girls would line up outside the community center where classes were held at least 30 minutes early! When I asked why they did this they said it was because they wanted to be first in line! I was astonished! I wanted to cry, of course tears of joy! At home I have to drag the kids from the hallway into my classroom. In Palestine, kids live under occupation in extreme poverty and yet they are so motivated to learn. They came to class prepared with pencils and notebooks unlike kids in my school in the US. Their parents and the community in general stress the importance of education and show much respect towards teachers. I would occasionally be approached on the street by mothers welcoming and thanking me for teaching their children. I rarely receive expressions of thanks in the US. I rarely receive respect from parents and students. I didn’t want to leave Tel Rumeida. I fell in love with the kids and with being treated with respect.

Most of the kids were just beginning to understand me on their own without Abraham’s help at the end. I hope that they keep practicing. They begin learning English now in the first grade but they do not typically have a native English speaking teacher to teach them, so most considered this a great opportunity to take advantage of. If anyone reading this is considering teaching kids in Palestine, especially in Tel Rumeida, I must say please do it! You won’t regret it. The experience, the place, the people and most importantly the kids will capture your heart and change your life forever, in the most positive way. I say this because this is exactly what happened to me and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I will return one day, insh’allah!

16 August 2007

Hebron: Israeli Military Shuts Down Palestinian Business in Old City Market

The article that follows my write up was taken from the ISM website. I picked this because I know the shop owner, Abu Hatim.

One day in mid-July I decided to shadow some of the people working with the Christian Peacemakers Team(CPT). I wanted to see how they handle situations, deal with problems, and to get their perspective on the situation as most of them have spent more than just a few months in Hebron and most were over the age of 50. Indeed I found them all to be quite inspiring. Some were former school teachers and nurses, most were parents whose children are grown now, and some were married to wonderful spouses that encouraged them to continue helping Palestinians. (If you would like more information on CPT and what they do please check out link on this page in the right-hand column.)

On this particular day of shadowing CPT we sat watch outside of Abu Hatim's shop because at that time he had just re-opened it and was being threatened by the soldiers that they were going to shut him down. The shops along this particular area of the old city were shut down for quite some time due to the location being directly behind the settlement, even though Palestinians had their businesses there for many, many years before the settlement existed. Abu Hatim invited us in for tea, something that is very common in Palestine and something that I miss greatly. Such hospitality is lacking here in the U.S.

There was not much for sale in his store. Some items consisted of plastic kitchen ware, candy, and garbage bags. Tall kitchen garbage bags to be exact. I mention this because these types of bags were very difficult to find in Hebron. I wanted to buy the entire roll and was willing to pay whatever he wanted. He gave them to me. He did not charge me. I didn't know how to accept but he would not let me refuse so I purchased some other items that I didn't need which came to maybe 10 shekels or $2.50 USD. Imagine that kind of generosity in times of extreme poverty and occupation. It's really unimaginable to me even though it did happened. He was just very appreciative that we were looking after him, but really he did much more for me.

I had a feeling that something like this in the article below would eventually happen to him. It really makes me sad and it really depicts the injustices that happen on a daily basis every day in Hebron as well as throughout all of Palestine.

Hebron: Israeli Military Shuts Down Palestinian Business in Old City Market
August 12th, 2007 | Posted in Reports, Hebron Region, Photos

Hebron – 10/8/2007

Early on the morning of the 9th of August inside Hebron’s old ministry square, Abu Hatim Jaudat Hasula’s hardware store was locked up and welded shut by the Israeli occupation forces. The 64-year-old shopkeeper had dared to defy both the Israeli occupation forces’ illegitimate threats and the appeasing surrender of other local shop-owners that had many other Palestinians shut down business and leave the area.

The occupation forces turned up with the proper papers but without any warning. Within 30 minutes, they closed up the shop, still filled with Abu Hatim’s belongings and goods, and then welded the hinges, thus leaving the large metal gates bolted up. Until further orders are produced, the army has declared that the shop will be locked down for two months.

The Israeli occupation forces justified their decision to close down these shops by claiming that they were trying to prevent Palestinians from blowing holes in the backs of their shops and entering a nearby rabbinical school. Neither 64 year old Abu Hatim nor his fellow shopkeepers have ever attempted to do anything even remotely related to this mentioned security threat.

In the past few weeks, many Human Rights Workers (HRWs) have spent the mornings in the old city market to support the local shop-owners in opening for business.

Every single day the occupation forces try to make Abu Hatim close his shop by phoning him and then by showing up at the shop. Yet until this morning the soldiers’ legal papers had been missing. Several shops have already closed including the 4 neighboring shops on Abu Hatim’s side of the market.

HRWs and the Christian Peacemaker Teams had been cooperating in order to support Abu Hatim’s shop and thus a large group of internationals were present soon after the rumors of the military action spread through Hebron.

Around 9:30 am, the soldiers began to leave the area, having successfully welded shut all 5 of the old shops on one side of the market, including Abu Hatim’s hardware store.

With the soldiers pulling out one Swedish HRW commented on the morning’s military action: “It’s typical to see the few real attempts to fight the occupation end in paper work and threats. The army knows how this will kill the little business that still is left in the old city and pacify the Palestinians.”

Leaving the market one of the military APCs turned around revealing a newly sprayed political statement on the side of the jeep to the entire market. Rumors have suggested that either HRWs or TIPH are responsible for the ‘Free Palestine’ graffiti on the army vehicle.

Abu Hatim has lost his only source of income, first and foremost directly by having his shop welded shut, but also because he will lose the subsidy the PA gives to business owners in economically unstable areas.

Day by day, business diminishes in the old city, among other places in the old market opposite Shuhada Street. Watching the progress of the Israeli occupation forces, one easily sees a similar future to the old city market as the one Shuhada Street is facing now, completely deserted and almost exclusively open to Israeli settlers.

09 August 2007

Just let the fire burn

*I'm still waiting for my journal to arrive via the postal service. For now I've decided to blog about stories that happened as I remember them. I may edit later when I recieve my journal.

One evening around 9:30pm in mid-July we received a phone call from a Palestinian coordinator that an occupied (by soldiers) home in the old city of Hebron was on fire. I think there were at least 12-15 of us staying in the apartment at the time and all of us decided to go check it out. For some reason we were split up. Some of the people arrived at the fire first to find black smoke billowing out of the building. Eventually we all met up and some people decided to return to the apartment while 5 of us decided to stay and wait for the fire brigade, I was one of the 5 who decided to wait.

We arrived at the building via a street coming down to Shuhada St behind the Quortoba School (the one that was recently set on fire, hmmmm a pattern?). We then walked down Shuhada Street a short way and waited in front of the building. Between this building which the soldiers use as a military post and the building across the street in which a Palestinian family lives as well as the Christian Peacemakers Team (CPT) is a barrier set up by the military in order to stop the flow of traffic from Shuhada Street to the old city. The barrier consists of a metal fence approximately 12 feet high, razor wire and a concrete barrier.

Eventually the soldiers approached us to see what we were doing and to try to tell us that we are not allowed to stand there. We were allowed to be there however. We told them we were waiting for the fire brigade to come and put out the fire. The police arrived next and all claimed not to speak English, except for one who sounded like he had a Russian accent and his English was very poor. He requested that we designate one person as a spokesperson, so we appointed a Swedish man who happens to be a firefighter. The conversation basically consisted of the police officer telling us to leave, that it was suspected that a Palestinian started the fire, then that there really wasn't a fire! Yes, nothing ever makes sense in Palestine.

Next a few settlers decided to join in. They insisted that they saw the 5 of us internationals come from the old city, break through the barrier and throw something in the building to set it on fire. It was then I became aware of my super hero capabilities to jump 12 ft fences and razor wire in a single bound! Oh yes, and to set a fire that didn't exist. Amazing! Theatre of the absurd!
(This is a view from inside the old city; the building that was burning is the one on the right.)

Eventually an American police officer arrived. Nice! An American, typical attitude of the police here. Actually he was a bit more diplomatic. He said that he had to file a report for arson based on what the settlers said but that he is aware of the absurdity, well, he didn't use that word but that is the gist of it. So, he took our passports and another officer took them over to the police vehicle to copy down the numbers. It must have been around 10:30pm by this time. Smoke was still pouring out of the building, that was not on fire, that we started:-)

A young settler boy approached the police vehicle and leaned on it to get a glimpse of our passports. I intervened and requested that he be removed. The police officers told him to go away. Thank you very much! After about 20 minutes we had our passports in hand and were told to leave the nonexistant burning fire. We left.

The owner of the building had to take matters in his own hands unfortunately. The fire brigade never showed up. The building is still occupied by the soldiers who eventually secured the building by permanently sealing the side door shut.

Just another day in Palestine.

07 August 2007

Hebron Settlers Removed

From the NY Times this evening.

Settler violence was increasing while I was there so I am not surprised by all the violence in removing them. I'm still at a loss for words when it comes to settlers illegally occupying Palestinian homes. All I can do is pray for peace.
Here is also a video of live footage from Al Jazeera of the action today.">
I wish I was still there.

Arriving In Hebron

I spent a couple of days in Ramallah to attend the nonviolent resistence ISM training which more than prepared me for life in the Tel Rumeida (TR) section of Hebron. Actually, the training scared the heck out of me. Worst case scenarios were given and they certainly appeared to be the worse. I had roughly one day after training to make my way down to Jerusalem where I took in some of the sites in the old city before I headed to TR the following day. I didn't intend to do ISM work while there, only teaching the kids, but later would find that it was impossible not to help out in other ways due to my conscience.

From Jerusalem I took a service taxi with Katie and Mary. The ride takes just about an hour. We had to switch services in the middle of a highways just outside of Jerusalem because it could not pass through the checkpoint. The road system is quite strange due to divisions between Israel and Palestine. I never did quite figure it out in regards to this point. Once we switched we headed directly for Hebron. The terrain is quite beautiful.

Rolling hills covered with rock gardens and catus. It reminded me of the high desert in eastern Oregon and Washington states. Every so often you can see a small village with just a few houses that look as though they will fall over at any minute. The closer we got to Hebron the more trash we saw, evidence of extreme poverty.

Once we arrived in Hebron I had a nervous feeling. This was it! I'm here to stay. We passed through the checkpoint dividing H1 from H2. H1 is a Palestinian only section of Hebron. H2 is where the Tel Rumeida settlement is. I can't even remember at this point if they asked for ID but regardless if they did this time, there would be many, many more times in which they would. We exited through the metal detectors and looked out onto Shuhada Street (street of martyrs).

It was like a ghost town. All of the oxidized bluish-green doors closed up. Once the heart and soul of Hebron but now a heavily armed guarded area completely shutdown. It was hard to imagine at that moment how things once appeared. Immediately we turned right to begin our walk up the very steep hill on Tel Rumeida Street.

The Palestinians are forced to walk up and down these extremely steep hills on a daily basis. Palestinians in TR are not allowed to drive cars. However, the settlers can. If someone was handicapped and could not walk I am not sure what they would do. Most likely they would be confined to a life at home. Even I had trouble walking down the hills. I was always in fear that I would slip and fall. Most likely a psychological block because others, especially Palestinian women, could walk down in high heels! But, they have had years of practice. One positive thing I can say about the hills is that they helped maintain my leg strength for running (which I couldn't do at all in TR).

At the top of the hill we passed another checkpoint with armed soldiers stationed at both sides of the street. Directly across from us where the road dead ends sat two ISMers keeping watch over the soldiers. Up the hill to the left sat the TR settlement. The soldiers here are basically useless and their job seemed to be to harrass Palestinians instead of providing protection to anyone. Eventually I would see them day after day playing around with each other, pointing guns as a game at women and children who walked by, stopping young Palestinian men to ask them to lift their shirts and trouser cuffs as though they were equipped with bombs.

Across from the settlement is a Palestinian home. We were told that we are not allowed to walk up that direction passed a certain point. Even the Palestinian's family members are not allowed to enter the family's home that way. Instead they must walk all the way around the back. About a 15 minute extra walk. Just the beginning of the absurd things I would hear about and witness with my own eyes.

Off in other direction was the international apartment. Atop the apartment was a roof with the most incredible view of Hebron as well as the areas we would patrol.

Across the street was the community center where I would begin teaching my classes.

06 August 2007

Injustices in Hebron

This is a copy of a report from ISM in Hebron. I cried when I read it. I cried not only because of the disturbing nature of the report but because it occurred at the school where a lot of my students attend during the normal school year as well as the place where the summer camp I worked for took place. (I have yet to write about the summer camp, but trust me, it is coming soon!) Regardless, it appears that Hebron is getting worse. I knew things were getting progressively more violent when I left last Thursday. I am not surprised as there is never a good explanation or reason for anything that occurs there. This report is life as normal for the Palestinians. This report is depressing and is why I went to Palestine in the first place and it is why I now sit here and cry and feel horrible about leaving so soon. I just hope that others who read this will try to help as much as possible, if only just by spreading the word around that would be enough.

August 6, 2007 12:20pm

At 12:20pm international human right workers received a call from a local Palestinian coordinator that a section of Quartaba Girls School had been set on fire by Israeli settlers.Quartaba girls school is located directly across from Beit Hadassah settlement.

When internationals arrived Palestinian residents were present as well as an Israeli policeman.They found that the back screen door, which is a metal frame, had been peeled up. This was how the Israeli settlers managed to enter the school without being seen.

The settlers had placed the metal frame of a bed on top of a table and set fire to it, along with pictures of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. The burning effigy was placed directly in front of a metal door that the children and teachers use to enter the school.

The fire had been burning for about 10 minutes before nearby Palestinian residents came with buckets of water and managed to put the fire out and keep it from spreading.

The internationals documented the scene and were told by the Palestinians that an electricity wire had been cut above the fire. It was apparent that this fire was started by adult settlers as the act was quite methodical and symbolic in the way it was laid out, with the pictures (of the Dome of the Rock), and the way they broke into the school. They also managed to commit the act undetected by Palestinians which no settler child could accomplish, and leads one to suspect that the act must have been planned and coordinated.

Israeli soldiers also later came to survey the scene, and at one point actually said that, for all they knew, it could have been Palestinians who had started the fire. They said that their was no solid evidence that it was Israeli settlers who had started the fire. This was obviously completely wrong, and offensive, since no Muslim would burn pictures of the Dome of the Rock or set fire to a Palestinian girls school. The only people who had motive to start the fire are Israeli settlers, who have in the past frequently attacked the schoolgirls and the school itself.

After ten more minutes the door to the school was opened and the windows inside were opened in order to release the smoke trapped inside the school.

Except for smoke damage, which was quiet extensive, there appeared to be no more damage to the school except for the cut electricity cable which will have to be repaired.

05 August 2007

First Arrival

When I first arrived in Palestine I headed directly from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to my final resting destination in Ramallah. The scenery from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is very similar to that of driving in southern California around the LA area or even in Las Vegas. The houses are stucco with red terra cotta roofs. The highways are wide and smoothly paved. I thought for a moment that I was in America not Israel. When I requested to be dropped off at the Damascus Gate the driver stopped short on the highway, pointed over to the right and said to me to hurry and leave. He just took my money, threw my backpack on the ground and took off. You see, not many jewish drivers will venture near the Damascus Gate. It is part of the muslim quarter. It is not as nice and new of an area as most of Israel. Still it was where I needed and wanted to be.

From there the scenery to Ramallah was quite different. Once you pass through the Qalandia checkpoint things get a bit rough.

The roads are bumpy and sometimes not paved. The service was crowded with 7 passengers, all Palestinian except myself. It was obvious that I was an outsider however I was treated with much respect. We had to wind through smaller streets that pass through neighborhoods with Palestinian children playing in the streets as well as donkeys towing carts with many supplies for their owners. It was obvious that the people were living in poverty. Buildings had missing windows with graffitti on the walls and trash all over the streets. This did not remind me of America, well not as a whole anyway. This was the beginning of a true Palestinian experience.

Finally I arrived in Ramallah which is considered to be one of the more modern cities in Palestine. It is the acting capital and a lot of money is being pumped into new construction all throughout the area. Christians and muslim palestinians inhabit this city along with many internationals. It is quite a contrast from the ultra-conservative muslim city of Hebron where I was living during most my stay in Palestine. In Ramallah it is common to see women sans hijab as well as wearing short sleeved tops. This is not so in Hebron, of which I will write much more later.

The money being given to Ramallah for development is rumored to be invested there in order to create more of a divison amongst Palestinians. Those living in the north in cities like Jenin and Nablus as well as those in the south such as Hebron do not necessarily receive as much funding. Therefore, many Palestinians living near Ramallah tend to be content, as content as one can be under occupation because the entire country is still occupied despite new construction and development. However, those in the north and south still face more economical hardships as well as internal and external problems. Those same problems just seem to be masked in Ramallah for the moment. At least that is the feeling I had while there.

I really didn't spend a lot of time there, but I did get to check out the wadi and have some coffee at the Americanized Starbucks offshoot, Stars & Bucks.

Here you can sit and watch the people walk around shopping and the cars fight traffic around the circle in the menara. The hustle and bustle of Ramallah from the cafe for just a moment made me feel like I was at home, but just for a brief moment. Here it was difficult to really understand what life under occupation was going to be like. For that brief moment, it seemed as though there really weren't any of problems that I had read about in the news. At least they were not apparent on the suface. Everyone was smiling, shopping and enjoying their nargila as well as their cappucinos. Life was moving on. That is one thing I've noticed in Palestine. The people are strong and adapt to situations of hardship better than most Americans I know, including myself.

It was only a very short time later that I was exposed to the true hardships and realities of life under occupation.

04 August 2007


I am safe in the U.S. now so I will be able to update this blog very soon. My return was uneventful. The Israeli security people only seemed interested in my trip to Egypt in 2003. For some reason they questioned me for about 5 minutes about why I went there, who I visited including questions about visiting families who live there. The security girl, who was maybe 20 years old, also asked about a stamp from Morocco and again the same line of questioning. After I went on to have my luggage searched but they really only removed 3/4 of the items. They didn't look at my photos or videos or even question why I was in Israel. I am thankful for that because I really, really, really want to return much sooner than later, insh'allah.

15 July 2007

Summer Camp

Yesterday was the first day of summer camp for over 100 Palestinian kids, agess 7 - 14 years, at the Qurtuba school in Tel Rumeida, Hebron. We organized the kids into 5 groups of approximately 20 kids each. It's great to see so many kids coming out. The camp takes place outside on the school's campus. Tarps were used as tents and makeshift classroom and sprawled across the street tied to Palestinian homes. My yoga/ESL classes take place up the hill near the school's basketball court. I'll post pictures later.

The settlement is right across the street from the school. Although an Islamic cemetery and a high wall keep the view of the settlers limited, the settlers do pass by and stop and stare. Well, last night some of them decided to try to tear down the tents that are on Palestinian land. Fortunately no major damage was done and camp was held today with only one minor gliche in the morning.

In order to enter the camp/school Palestinians must either walk down the hill through the olive groves or down Shuhada Street and pass a checkpoint manned by armed IDF soldiers and sometimes armed settlers. Yes, that is right. Settlers, who are civilians, are allowed to carry weapons freely and walk the streets. However, Palestinians are not allowed any weapons at all. I'll blog on that later. Back to this morning. Children have to walk up a steep flight of stone steps from Shuhada Street to get to the school. Settlers were sitting on the steps trying to prevent the kids from going to camp. EAPPI support teams and ISM intervened. The principal even had a brief conversation with the settlers which consisted of establishing that arabs hate settlers and settlers hate arabs so they are equal. And that the school has done nothing to the settlers so they should leave everyone and everything alone. Camp continued for the day without a problem. Eventually the settlers got tired and left. You see it is our job to wear them out. Internationals are only here to help the palestinians so we have all day to sit and stare and wait. And fortunately this time the internationals were able to outwait them.

I taught one yoga class to girls and boys around the ages of 7-9 years. Then one class of basketball to all (wild) boys ages 7-14. They don't know the rules but seemed to have a really good time. And in the end, that is all that matters.

08 July 2007

By the ISM Media Team

June 29th, 2007. On Friday evening about 20 human rights workers including members of ISM, EAPPI and CPT went to the Jabari family home which is situated on land between the Kiryat Arba and Givat Havot settlements. Settlers have constructed a footpath crossing the Jabari’s land in order to connect Kiryat Arba to Givat Havot. In 2002, settlers erected a tent on the Jabari’s land which they call a synagogue. The tent was dismantled twice by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) but the settlers rebuilt it. Currently there are no plans to dismantle the tent, instead the settlers are not supposed to enter it. If this is not making any sense to you, then you are not the only one. I can’t make any sense of it either.

The Jabari family asked members of the human rights groups to accompany them to their land so they could clear the dried grass and prepare the land to be used agriculturally again. The family has not used the land in the last six years, because of settler harassment, especially from settlement guards who are stationed across the street. This is despite a court order allowing them to do so. In the past, the family grazed their sheep and goats and cultivated fig trees and grapes on the land.

We arrived on the land and began pulling up the grass and packing it into bags for the animals to eat. The family eventually plans to plant olive trees on the land. We called the Israeli police before we got there to alert them to what we would be doing so they would be present to prevent any mischief and interference from settlers. Last time the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) came here, settlers prepared breakfast in the form of eggs and tomatoes to the head. The army and police eventually showed up and stood around but did not try to interfere. Settlers came and went; one placed a chair on the footpath, produced a Torah, and began praying.

Working The Land Part 1.

The greatest thing about the action was that the family was able to bring their goats onto the land to help finish the work. Fear of settlers harassing the family and hurting the goats had prevented them from doing this for a long time.

Working The Land Part 2.

We left as it began to grow dark, but not before we had tea and snacks and some of use got to ride the Jabari’s Arabian horse!

The walk back to Tel Rumeida was chock-full of the usual settler and soldier shenanigans which Hebron is known for. Palestinians are prevented from driving cars on the road that splits Kiryat Arba and Givat Havot. So they walk, or ride bikes, or ride horses. Oops, wait, I take that back, they can walk their horses, but they can’t ride them. A couple of Palestinians on horseback rode down the street and were ordered off the horses by soldiers. It was like they were in the 6th grade and the hall monitor was telling them not to ride their bike in the hall. Except it was some teenaged soldiers telling 30 year old men they had to walk their horses.

Walking down worshipper’s way we were greeted by settler saliva and rocks as they passed us on the way back from the Ibrahimi mosque/synagogue back to Kiryat Arba. We informed the army of this and as usual they did nothing.

At the mosque, Issa, our fearless Palestinian ISM coordinator was detained by soldiers who asked for his ID and searched his bag. In the meantime, another soldier had spirited away a teenaged member of the Jabari family who had been accompanying us.

The soldier took him over to a dark corner and it was a minute or so before we realized that the soldier was violently searching the boy and punching him in the stomach. As soon as we noticed and started screaming at the soldier, he stopped and released the boy.

The is something I have seen quite frequently, soldiers in Hebron will not beat a Palestinian if they know human rights workers are watching, so they try to sneak them away to someplace where we can’t see and as soon as they are discovered, they stop because they know what they are doing is wrong.

In the future, the local human rights groups plan to continue to accompany the Jabari’s to their land so they can begin cultivating it once more.

05 July 2007

Safe in Palestine

I arrived safely in Palestine over a week ago. The experience so far has been wonderful, sad, depressing, and yet one that I will never forget. This post is going to be short because I have to prepare my English lesson plan for the three classes I'll be teaching later this afternoon.

I am teaching 3 hours a day with lots of other hours filled with preparation and planning time as well as helping out with direct action work such as helping farmers clear their fields for use for the first time in many, many years and witnessing the harsh realities of daily Palestinian life. I can honestly say though that I feel safe but I am vigilent. The IDF scares me more than the Palestinians and I will explain more about all of that later. However, I have not encountered many problems yet though I know many who have. It depends on the time of day and location when the problems occur.

Palestine is a beautiful country and its' people are equally beautiful, especially the children.

I have posted some pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/people/38523564@N00/ Please feel free to view often as I hope to update this blog weekly or as time allows.


03 June 2007

Palestinians and Israeli Women Meditate Together

This is an interesting (and short) article about a yoga meditation retreat for Israeli and Palestinian women in Israel led by David Sye of Yogabeats™. I've been searching for programs that bring the two together and am happy to find that there are quite a few organizations that do so in many ways, such as through the peacefulness and mindfulness of meditation. I believe that through methods such as this and open communication between both parties that there truly could be peace amidst all of the violence.

01 June 2007

Facts you should know about the situation in Palestine

Taken from The Iron Wall website

Did you know…

* 78% of the settlement population comes from Europe and North America.

* Jewish settlers in the West Bank consume 5 times more water than Palestinians - water that is illegally taken from Palestinian water sources.

* 80% of the settlers consider themselves to be economic settlers who live in the settlements to benefit from government incentives.

* Palestinian travel is restricted or entirely prohibited on 41 roads and sections of roads throughout the West Bank, covering a total of over 700 kilometers of roadway. Settlers can travel freely on these roads.

* There are two different laws in the Occupied Palestinian Territories; one for the settlers - civil law - and one for the Palestinians - military law.

* There are now more Jewish settlers in Palestinian East Jerusalem than Palestinians.

* Israeli Jews living, working or investing in the settlements are entitled to significant financial benefits from the Government of Israel. These include generous loans for the purchase of apartments, exemption from tuition fees in schools and reductions in income taxes.

* Settlements with their bypass roads and security zones occupy 42% of the West Bank.

* Before Israel evacuated its 8,000 settlers from Gaza Strip, they were occupying 32% of the area, with the remainder inhabited by 1.4 million Palestinians. The population density was 600 per square kilometer in the settlements to 55,000 per square kilometer in the refugee camps, making Gaza the most densely populated place on earth.

* There are now more than 200 Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank.

* During the Oslo era, from its inauguration on the White House lawn in September 1993 until June 2001, Israel completed construction on 20,371 settlement units; a number equal to 62% of all settlement housing built from 1967 to 1993.

* The wall Israel is constructing in the West Bank is four times the length of the Berlin Wall and three times as high.

* The length of the 'Green Line' - the border between Israel and the West Bank - is 315 kilometers. The path of the Wall is 670 kilometers long.

* Israel receives approximately US $10 million every day from the United States.

All of these facts bother me but it is the last one that affects me the most. $10 million every day given to Israel or any country for that matter rather than the educational system here in the U.S. is absurd! My school could use a mere $1 million or even $500,000 of that money to completely change it's appearance and supply the kids with all the notebooks and pencils they could ever hope to own and use! Where are our priorities?

I'm not a political person but slowly, as I read more about this situation, I find myself becoming more and more interested in U.S. politics. Perhaps ignorance is not always bliss...

18 May 2007

Living Conditions in Gaza

This is a short video that briefly shows the trauma that Palestinians undergo every day in Gaza. It focuses more on the children who are psychologically deeply affected.

14 May 2007

American Friends Service Committee Meeting on Palestine

I have had a hard time finding events that speak to the Palestine issue. Friends Service has sponsored one or two in the past that I was aware of and now they are having one tomorrow evening to discuss the possibility of a two-state solution. If you are in the area try to check it out if you can.

07 May 2007

Palestinian History- A Timeline

This is a link to the website Palestine Remembered. It is a good accounting of the history of Palestine beginning in BC through 1949.

05 May 2007


"You must be the change you want to see in the world."
by Mahatma Gandhi, Indian political and spiritual leader (1869 - 1948)

03 May 2007

Art Under Apartheid

This looks like another great organization that helps kids find outlets to deal with their everyday situation. The focus is on art but they run many other projects such as English classes, dance, theater and sports. I'm looking into possibly helping out with them as well as Project Hope isn't too sure that I can teach the yoga and I feel that is an important component in what I would like to accomplish. The structure with Art Under Apartheid seems a bit less rigid as well.

28 April 2007

Palestinians in Iraq- Where will they go?

This is an interesting and sad article about the plight of Palestinians in Iraq. Imagine being a people who no one wants. They have no where to run home to and no one to let them in during times of war. These Palestinians apparently went to Iraq in 1948 but have never been granted citizenship and are still considered refugees generations later. The article also briefly touches upon how the surrounding countries around Iraq have been affected due to taking in refugess. What a mess!

U.S. State Dept Pushes for Palestinian Resettlement in Iraq

27 April 2007


I stand accused of being anti-jewish and anti-Israel. I refute this fact and am deeply saddened by this accusation. For anyone reading this blog I formally state that I am not anti-jewish nor anti-Israel. I am however for the humane treatment of Palestinians and all people on earth. There are many jewish people who also support this cause, so I am confused as to why I would stand accused. I suppose this is just another reason that I feel so strongly about getting involved first-hand. I would like to help show the truths about the situation, gain support for those who are actually suffering and bring about an awareness that it is okay to route for the Palestinians and not be anti-jewish/israel at the same time.
Here are some interesting facts about the meaning of the Palestinian flag.

26 April 2007

Hani's House

This is a video by Corine Dhondee about a Palestinian man named Hani and how his home was demolished illegally by the Israeli government in Jerusalem. It depicts the truth that we do not often hear about in mainstream media.

Hani's House

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24 April 2007


I created this blog to document my trip to Nablus, Palestine in July 2007. You will be able to read and share in my journey including the events and thoughts during the preparation stages through the trip itself and upon my return to the U.S. I expect this to be an extremely interesting, informative and life altering journey. I hope to do some good for the people of Palestine by providing educational services and by being a voice for them. I also hope to be able to communicate with the people on the other side of this situation, the Israelis, in order to develop a well-informed perspective on the situation. My main goal though is to help assist the Palestinians in any way possible so that they can be treated humanely. I am not a political person nor do I get involved in direct action. My only action will be to educate their children in English as well as yoga.

I hope you enjoy this journey as much as I expect to.

in peace