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Come closer. Letters from the Holy Land*

* Yes, the Holy Land, exactly. Whole Land. The Holy Earth with all her
never ending patience, beauty, variety and ability to survive, surprise and be reborn, .

You who stand on our doorstep, come in
and drink with us Arabic coffee
[you might feel you are humans like us].
You who stand on our doorstep
get out of our mornings
so we can be certain
we are humans like you.

Mahoud Darwish
(Bio on the side:
Mahoud Darwish was born in 1941 in Birwa near Acre. He died in 2008. He had been actively involved in the cultural dimension of the PLO. As a poet, Darwish was both deeply personal and political. His personal love poems fuse with the political in the most extraordinary way.
Darwish was known throughout the Arab world as 'the poet of Palestinian resistance.', said Wikipedia)

Message from Tel Aviv
On the way to Palestine, we spent a night in Tel Aviv. Famous Sin City welcomed us with open arms with all its vibes, electricity, dizziness, colorful people looking straight in your eyes. Everyone who I talk to seems to be open-minded, friendly and well-educated. Ofir, our Israeli host, leaves us, perfect strangers, keys to his house and is giving me a good hug before we hit the road.

Message from the dawn
First morning in Palestine I am waking up with a muezzin (a chosen person at a mosque who call the prayer) and I am taking a dawn walk. The little white, dusty street is totally quiet, the town is slowly opening its eyes. I meet a cheerful girl who laughs to me and waves after me till I am completely gone. Two little boys invite me to their house. A few awake people shine when they see me and greet me. I am going to the mosque and it is so peaceful. The air smells like a delightful mixture of thyme, olives and some unidentified purple flowers. I can’t believe that in this paradise there is a fight going on.

Message from the soccer
Our very first day we go to harvest olives with a group of internationals among others many Israeli activists called by Rabbis for Human Rights. What’s the story about picking the olives? It does not sound like a serious peace mission, does it? Well, the thing is that for ages Palestinians used to take care of the trees (some of them are thousands of years old!), often it might be the only income for the family, from generation to generation they would produce olive oil and soap. Then the Israeli settlers came and forbade them from getting to their gardens. They would harass them, break their trees and shoot. That’s why part of our job here is to assist the families working in their fields to make it safer.

Palestinian woman selecting the olives, quality controller. 

During the lunch prepared by women from the family in the shadow of the trees we talk about conflict solutions.
 How about soccer for peace?:

Watch the video!

Boys school in Nablus.

They took five kids from each side and they gave them a ball. 5 year old children played soccer happily without thinking about the colors of their flags.
Children older than 10 years already had a problem: they would send a colleague first – you go, I’ll see if it is safe. After first recognition they would play together cheerfully.

Where is the link between these stories?

Message from Noam
In the bus going to West Bank from Jerusalem the Rabbis for Human Rights crew met this Israeli girl who asked them where they were going.
- To help some Palestinians pick the olives, they said.
- Are you crazy?! They will kill you!, she was absolutely frightened.
- You see, that’s the thing, explains Noam, film maker, journalist for social tv, we live in one land, but we don’t know each other. Most Israelis had contact with Palestinians only while in army service when they had to have a gun ready to point in ‘enemies’ direction. If your government gives you a weapon and a certain way of thinking, it's easist to believe Palestinians are bad people. Or rather – that they are not people at all.

Olives harvesting. Palestinian boy helping Israeli activist to wash his hands.

Message from Gabi
We meet an Israeli girl writing pro-Palestinian articles for a right wing paper (!). She says:  don’t get trapped. Do not come here just to help them, do not see them only as victims, try to embrace the whole picture. They cry and laugh, love and hate, play and fight; there is every day life going on, in all its cruelty and beauty.


1 comment:

MaryHanna/MPT said...

Wonderful reports, Team. Very personal...Thanks for "bringing us along with you"! - Mary H.