Friday, January 4

Shout Louder!! The World doesn't hear you yet!

Have you been keeping up with events here? Probably not as much as you should with the holidays going on, right? Besides, people are dying for democracy in Kenya, the primaries in the States are underway, and the NFL playoffs are on. So we're not paying that much attention to what's happening here.

Well, after the Annapolis summit, some people were talking about possible movement on the peace efforts between the two sides. Ummm....after recent events, probably not. In case you didn't know, militants from Gaza have been firing rockets at Israel for a LONG time. It was happening before Annapolis, during Annapolis, and after Annapolis. Well, Israel chose to start dealing with the rockets AFTER Annapolis. Can you fault a country for defending itself or its citizens? Absolutely not. But, Israel is definitely not making efforts to endear the civilian population to itself. Eleven people died on Thursday. They weren't all militants. You can read about it here, from the BBC, which is pretty balanced. In case you're not going to take the time to read it, I just want to point out that the article mentioned that the Israeli military used air strikes. Seriously? We're going to go into a populated area and call in planes and helicopters to start shooting up the place and drop bombs? I only took an introductory psych. course in college, but I'm pretty sure that airstrikes aren't how you start winning over a hostile population.

Now, the timing of what's happening here is important. Since Annapolis, the Israeli military has been making regular incursions into Gaza. 4 Palestinians are killed one week, 6 the next, 11 Thursday, etc. They're small enough numbers that ABC News isn't going to run them on its nightly lead. So maybe we don't hear a ton about it. Yet at the same time we aren't rushing to point out that the Israeli government doesn't want to be 'a partner for peace'. Settlements are still going up (look for a blog about settlements soon), Palestinians are dying daily, and the Palestinian government should be looking at how they can be partners for peace?

Another significant action this week was the Israeli military going into Nablus in the West Bank. Rockets have been being shot from Gaza, so it's understandable why the military wants to get in there. Militants shouldn't be firing rockets at anybody (and we want to point out that not all Palestinians that live in Gaza are militants). Why Nablus in the West Bank though? I don't know. The Palestinian Prime Minister thinks it's a bad idea and harms the peace process.
I don't think he's too far off from the truth.

If we can remove some of the distance, let's imagine that we live in Nablus. We're not allowed to travel very far, and while we're driving to the towns we are allowed to visit, we're often stopped by soldiers, have to get out of our cars, and wait while they check our IDs. Sometimes it takes 10 minutes, sometimes it takes an hour. We're not told what they're checking for or why it takes so long. Sometimes the person next to us is told that he has to go home without an explanation of why. Sometimes we're told we have to go home. Meanwhile, a government that doesn't consider us citizens is building an enormous barrier around our town. We're not allowed to travel to places that we used to be able to go to. We don't have criminal records or any ties to terrorists, it's just that we hold IDs that say that we are Palestinian. Because of this, we're not allowed to leave the West Bank and enter Israel. The United Nations has said that the barrier is illegal. The International Court of Justice has said that it's illegal. Our daily reality doesn't change. The barrier is still being built. Soldiers come into our neighborhood with guns and tear gas, and there's no one to complain to. Reporters and cameramen are around, so we know that people outside see what's happening, but our daily reality doesn't change. Every day the barrier gets a little bit bigger, and the places we're allowed to go get a little bit smaller. Every day.

If this was us, don't you think we'd be pretty upset? I would. If these guys were outside my house, or if this guy was yelling at my dad, I'd have a problem with it too most likely.

So what do we do? I don't think it helps things that these guys are picking up stones and throwing them.

At the same time, I don't think I'd want to see this guy, anywhere, ever, pointing that gun at me.

So what are w
e supposed to do if we're regular
Not the militants, not the guys shooting rockets, but people who happen to have been born in places like Nablus, or Gaza, or Bethlehem? We're not citizens of Israel, but the Israeli government controls where we go and tells us when we can leave our houses and when we can't. How loud does this lady have to shout before she'll be heard?

All pics in this post from Reuters.

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