Sunday, July 5, 2009

Activists, actions, and reactions....

The Spirit of Humanity's crew of activists are being slowly released from Ramle prison after being arrested by the Israeli Navy in the Mediterranean. (Hear a clip from 3 imprisoned activists.)

First there was the Gaza 22, then the Gaza 21, today it is the Gaza 14. It is difficult to find news about how and which activists are being released. Three of the 6 British Free Gaza detainees will be put on a flight to London after having been moved to cells at Ben Gurion airport detention center. (I suppose all airports have detention centers these days.... Maybe they're stocked with goods commandeered by security agents from passengers' luggage at the checkpoints. Or does that stuff end up in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch...or at the local St. Vincent de Paul's...or for sale on e-Bay or Craigslist?)

Meanwhile, back at Colorado's Aspen Institute's Ideas Festival, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said, "Jews, to the extent they choose to stay and live in the state of Palestine, will enjoy those rights and certainly will not enjoy any less rights than Israeli Arabs enjoy now in the state of Israel. "

Fayyad was responding to a question from former CIA director James Woolsey. I can imagine former CIA director James Woolsey choking on his caviar as these words sunk in!

I say to Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, "Congratulations on turning on its head, and very creatively too, the usual go-nowhere "dialog" aimed at "peace in the region" that always has the seeming largess coming from the Israelis."

Fayyad's idea is, I hope, an example of the high quality of thought at the Ideas Festival. It is good to have creative ideas...and it is difficult to implement the best of them.

Those of us who are not Palestinian and who know how naturally generous the Palestinian heart and culture actually is -- despite what the Israelis promote -- recognize that Fayyad may not have been trying to be satirical; he may have been, in fact, speaking from his heart. His statement suggests that all this nastiness between Israelis and Palestinians will, in fact, be worked out soon ... it has just been a little misunderstanding between brothers... and soon, soon, bygones will be bygones and we can get on with our lives.

Then I read Peter Beaumont's article, "A life in ruins" that includes these paragraphs:

Six months after Israel's war against Gaza, Shifa, a 20-year-old student, sleeps with her family behind the fallen house. A trodden path leads through the rubble to a row of cramped, ramshackle shelters open to the elements and roofed with hessian sacks. They are identical to the cattle pens that stand beside them.

On closer examination I can see that the frames have been constructed out of cast-off sections of wood and metal lashed together. What walls that exist are fashioned out of old pallets and branches woven into crude wicker. Or more sacking, staked into the soil to make rudimentary windbreaks.

Shifa's family are Bedouin. Until recently they farmed this land close to the barrier, in an area once used for missile launches against the Jewish communities on the far side. This was one of Gaza's limited areas of agricultural production in a densely crowded urban area, home to 1.4 million people. Because of the missiles, this neighbourhood of farms and little factories was treated to a scorched earth policy.

Inside Shifa's own tiny, dirt-floored "compound" a fire pit has been scooped out of the earth and filled with twigs. On it sits the blackened pan in which Shifa and her mother make stews of molokhiya - spinach-like greens - with chicken, garlic and onions. "This is my kitchen," says Shifa shyly, in English. A piece of broken board is propped on two drums to function as table. Here a jam jar sits, holding a pestle and a solitary sharp knife.

I first came to this house in January, in the immediate aftermath of Israel's war against Gaza, visiting the Salman family almost every day. The family were sleeping in the ruins to shelter from the rain, surrounded by the stinking bodies of their sheep, killed during the assault. Then, Shifa complained that the frightened younger children were kept awake at night by the sound of packs of dogs scavenging among the carrion outside.
(Read the entire article.)

How does Shifa and her family let bygones be bygones? Would you be able to do that under these circumstances?

No comments: