November 15, 2015

An old Palestinian lady

This wasn't behind the wall - the old Palestinian lady was walking in front of the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, while Ahmad and I were having coffee. Ahmad spotted her from far in the crowd, because she looked tiny and ancient, somewhat bent, leaning on a broken stick. What struck me most at that point was her beautifully embroidered dress.

November 01, 2015

Balloons over Palestine

It's my birthday and I had planned to go out and have dinner with my friends, Yasser, Ali & Ahmad, in "our" restaurant in Hizma.

Planning meant that in the early afternoon Ahmad and I had checked with the restaurant that we'll have food and cake this same night. In the present political climate, the only Jewish friend I had dared telling my plan, made me promise to send her a message after returning home safely.

October 23, 2015

Relaxing, in the arms of the police

"Isn't it lovely? isn't it wonderful?" For long I had pressed Ahmad to do something nice together and after a very tough week for both of us, he surprised me and suggested to go and sit on a mountain.

I thought this was a great idea. There are few places of leisure where we can both go freely, and Ahmad knows how much I favor mountains. Most of the mountains in the Judean desert have hardly any vegetation, but Ahmad took us to Bab AlShams ("the Gate to the Sun). Somehow this mountain catches more rain than others and has lots of trees, perhaps because it is the highest in the area.

October 16, 2015

Still Tense?

A friend and colleague asked why I used the phrase "still tense" when referring to the situation in Jerusalem, mentioning that she doesn't see an indication of improvement. Another friend told me that "tense" is an understatement, adding that the situation is "crazy".

They are both right. Although I have a couple of other posts ready to be published, I felt I cannot simply pass by the present political state without addressing it directly. This crazy state, though not called "war", certainly feels like war. Moreover, there is no real sign of improvement.

The occupation continues to take its heavy toll. I cannot put it strong enough: Though on the Palestinian side, aggression is essentially the consequence of oppression; on the Israeli/Jewish side, aggression is fueled by fear (and not by reason)!

October 09, 2015

Support by friends

This wasn't my week...

The situation in Israel/Palestinian Authority is terribly tense between Arabs and Jews, everywhere, but especially in and around Jerusalem. Stone throwing, riots, violent attacks, destroyed property, wounded people and occasional deaths occur on a daily base. The neighborhood I live in, French Hill, is in the North of Jerusalem, just near the separation wall. It is inhabited mostly by Jews, but also Muslims and Christians live there. French Hill is surrounded by three Arab neighborhoods, Issawiya, Shuafat & Beth Hanina. As a result, violence is for me on walking distance, and police and soldiers are all over, even in the air. It's awfully depressing.

October 04, 2015

All in the Bedouin family

Though most Israelis would say that I'm crazy going to a Palestinian village, endangering my life, I feel at home in Al-Za'im.

I drove to Al-Za'im for two good reasons. My tire was leaking air and, because of the recent sand storm, I wanted to have my car washed. However, my main motivation was my bad mood; I secretly hoped my visit to the village would elevate it.

The huge metal gate in the concrete wall happened to be open, and - for me - it was easy to cross the soldiers at guard. At the entrance of the village, I passed the petrol station of Ahmad's brother. The petrol station is not functioning, since the brother is in administrative detention for almost half a year. The family was recently informed that he'll remain in jail for another half a year. The idea of administrative detention is just incredible. One night he was taken away from his bed, without any charges, and just disappeared behind locks. (My efforts to do anything about it were of no avail.)

September 19, 2015

The village Al-Za'im

Close to Jerusalem, along the highway to the Israeli settlement of Ma'ale Adumim and the Dead Sea, one can find the Palestinian village Al-Za'im.

In previous posts I have mentioned that I visited Ahmad's village. So, let me tell you somewhat more about the village itself.

September 12, 2015

Getting arrested as a normal thing

Tuesday afternoon. It's close to 40° C (over 100° F) and I feel a flu is coming up. Ahmad calls to tell he got arrested at the Qalandia checkpoint.

I immediately send a fax about his mental state to the police, in the hope this will get him out. However, the next day he's not yet released and my feeling of helplessness increases. I find out that he was moved to the Russian Compound in Jerusalem; a place where Palestinians are often treated harshly, and sometimes even tortured. After some investigation, I get hold of the name of the lawyer provided to him by the Public Defense, who tells me that Ahmad is charged with driving a car without an Israeli driving licence, use of drugs, impostering and entering Israel. My heart drops. The lawyer informs me that he will not continue with the case and it's unclear who will take over. The next morning Ahmad was supposed to take a couple of American visitors to a tour of Bedouin life, both to share the hardships about life in the West Bank and make a little money. I cancel the tour last minute and also rearrange the hours of my clients.

July 28, 2015

Ramadan Kareem!

Coming out of my meeting with a client, I see three unanswered calls from my Palestinian Bedouin friend Ahmad, so I return his calls. He says "I'm opening the restaurant today, and I need some money to buy food for the guests"