24 April 2009

Shuhada Street

This is a great site for information about Shuhada Street in the Tel Rumeida section of Hebron.

Just briefly, Shuhada Street was the main street for business and activities in Hebron. After the massacre in 1994 by Goldstein, all shops on Shuhada were ordered closed and vehicular traffic prohibited by Israel. This left many people unable to work. Those who live along Shuhada Street are no longer allowed to exit and enter their home via this way. They are forced to walk as far as a mile or more around the city to pass through checkpoints to get to their back doors. I once escorted a very kind woman who had an Israeli government pass to walk along Shuhada Street to enter her home. We were held up at a checkpoint. The soldiers eventually allowed us to pass and enter. However, they told us to not exit the same way. It was a very tense and stressful situation.

Where has time gone?

I haven't updated in so long.

All the time passed with the massacre in Gaza. I watched it unfold in the news and through former colleagues websites. But, I somehow could not bring myself to write about it.

Now, I reflect back to 2007. In June it will be two-years since I last touched Palestinian soil. I fondly recall the sounds, the sites and most of all the kids and Palestinian people. I miss the Call to Prayer at 4am followed by the hee-hawing of the donkey, the barking of the dog, and the cockle-doodle-doo of the rooster. I miss the handshakes and words of thanks from parents and vendors for simply being present to witness, document and teach their kids. I miss the service driver's call of Rammmmalllah, Rammmallah, and driving on the treacherous, beaten down, hillside roads. I miss the hours spent listening to their stories under the 2,000 year old olive tree. I miss the strong presence of God felt everywhere. The heaviness of it all. And I miss being able to live in the moment, not thinking of the future nor the past, just how to manage and survive in that moment and enjoying and savoring every minute because you never knew what horror would happen next.

As I reflect upon all of this, I still read about the injustices that continue and which have seemingly gotten worse in Tel Rumeida. I think about going back but life has taken me over here. Insh'allah one day I will return. Insh'allah.

I also reflect on the loss of some friendships due to my time spent there. Once you go and see the reality there is really no way to continue life as before. There is no way to support the occupation and act as though it does not exist. This was difficult for many who knew me and thus the separation. I understood and was actually prepare. But, just recently one former acquaintance who lived in Israel for a number of years and who served in the IDF sent me an email bashing Palestinians and requesting that all Jews stand up for Israel and save her. When I responded back with a simple, "Hello, how are you?" refusing to comment or engage in such a discussion but merely to extend the olive branch, I received nothing back. This led me to wonder... was that email sent to me by mistake? Was it there to let me know that there are zionists out there lurking and trying to continue to not only eliminate the Palestinian people but to also eliminate supporters of ending the occupation of Palestine? I wonder.

But, I do not stop speaking out for justice.