This is our blog from Palestine. We're travelling from the UK in this the summer of 2006 to the West Bank for 5 weeks. We are travelling to hook up with the International Solidarity Movement (www.palsolidarity.org), which non-violently facilitates Palestinian resistance of the rigours of the Israeli Occupation. Part of the concept is that we will report back what we see of the occupation to "the world" our friends and family, the media... whoever'll listen to be frank (Kofi, Tony, George, Ehud)- so that's what the blog is for. Not to say that everything herein will be in anyway profound.
Also, international do-gooders that we are, we are also going to donate 5,600 Shekels (800 quid- thankyou people of Aberystwyth, and everyone who sponsored us) to the catchily named Society of Social Works Committees. They are a wee charity based in the town of Tulkarem. They work in the community to facilitate healthcare, hygiene and education.
I [Elliot] have been to Tulkarm before, and the society really impressed me with the energy with which they worked. They operate on simple basis- if someone can speak French, for example, then they have a French class. When we asked them what they would use the money for, they told us orphans who lost their parents to the conflict.
Anyway, that's quite a lengthy intro... so watch this space I guess:
August 12th 2006
Bil'in The ISM report has been updated with more information and pictures from the Bil'in protest we participated in yesterday, so I'll post the link again. Fourteen injuries have been recorded from the violence of the army. http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/08/11/bilin-4/ Leaving Tulkarem Elliot: Going back in time to before Bil'in, leaving Tulkarem was very sad for us. I think it is where we have the closest friends, and the place to which, when we say we will return to Palestine, we imagine. In many ways its a very ordinary corner of the West Bank, although the paraphernalia of the occupation makes everywhere seem more alien to us. But the examples of selflessness and human concern we saw there were really inspiring. I've extolled the virtues of the Society of Social Works before; the medical care and e... read more
August 11th 2006
Jemima: This isn't going to be a proper update, but I'm feeling pretty helpless right now, and all I can do is write this to let you all know what's going on. Today we went to the regular weekly demo in Bil'in, as planned. The march started out as usual, but before we even made it close to the wall, the Israeli army opened fire with sound bombs, tear gas and rubber bullets, coming right into the village. Me being the sensible person (chicken) I am, me and Elliot were pretty near the back, and we were a long way away from the real violence, so there's no need to worry on our behalf. However, the main reason I'm telling you all this is because we found out later that one of the Israeli activists who ... read more
August 6th 2006
Comfortable in Little chicken Elliot: So, back in Al Quds again. We have spent the last week at the thirteenth Youth Festival in the village of Farkha, which does indeed translate as "Little Chicken." It is a mountain-top village in the Salfit region of the West Bank just South of the peninsula of Israeli settlements known as the "Ariel finger," which gloved in the wall, jabs into Palestinian territory by 25km. Apologies to our legion fans for a week without updates- we had no chance to use the internet in Farkha, which houses only just over 1,500 people. Six hundred metres above sea-level, the surrounding slopes are covered in stepped olive groves for miles. In a month they will be harvested, eventually to produce 100 tons of olive oil. Somewhat ironically, just as we were spending ... read more
July 30th 2006
Hi everyone. This isn't going to be a mammoth entry- just a quiclie from Ramallah. We're in the ISM media office waiting to catch a ride to the village of Farkha (AKA Small Chicken). The most amazing thing happened: I was speaking to a chap who said his name was sometyhing like "Gally" about volunteering in our next camp. Only after phoning him about four times, with the help of a mutual friend, did I comprehend that this was my good friend Ghali of three years. He was an ISM coordinator when I was at the "Camp Against the Wall" in 2003. I love how small a world it is- especially in Palestine for some reason. Anyway, here is a picture of famous volunteer Jemima Davies (I was aslepp during the interview), as included in a ... read more
July 27th 2006
O, What a perfect day... Or more or less. Once again it's Elliot here. By rights, it should be Jemima, but she's off at the women-only wedding do- a hen party in effect. I'm not bitter, though... We had a very good visit to the YMCA in Bethlehem, to see the kind of project Christian Aid supports in Palestine. I will let Jemima talk more about that though- we made the trip because she is working with Christian Aid from September. We went swimming yesterday with the Children of Martyrs (absolutely don't think that word synonymous with suicide bombers) summer camp, where we've been volunteering. It's pretty rare for these kids to get a chance to swim, so they were rarther excitable. Even the two checkpoints that stopped our two coaches wouldn't dampen their spirits, despite ... read more
July 22nd 2006
Hi everybody "Elliot" here. I am de-lighted to say we are in Tulkarem. Humd'Allah (thanks to God) It is great to be back. Before I get typing, I just wanna thank people for the messages of support and concern, and to say cheers everyone who reads- we've got nearly 400 hits, which is very exciting. In depth geopolitical analysis: I’ve decided to be lazy and not commentate massively on “the situation” in Lebanon or Gaza. It’s not like anyone can be waiting for that scoop. Also, my Google Alerts have helpfully furnished me with a link that amore-or-less articulates my thoughts with much more authority than I could: http://ips-dc.org/comment/bennis/tp43GazaLebanon.htm So that’s the humanitarian crisis cheerfully hyperlinked away… Leaving Jayyus We had a great few days in Jayyus, the villa... read more
July 18th 2006
Jemima: First, apologies, this is going to be a real rush job. Second, just to reassure, we are FINE! We're keeping a close eye on the news, obviously, and we are aware that we may have to do a runner at some point, but right now the west bnk is remarkably calm - a few demos against what Israel is doing in Lebanon and Gaza, but otherwise everyone is just getting on with things. Right now we're in Qalqilya, although we're staying with a family in the small village of Jayyus. The past few days have been a little crazy - we've decided that for the moment we're going to split with ISM and do our own thing, hopefully helping out with kids in summer camps either here or in tulkarm, Elliot's old Palestinian stomping ground. ... read more
July 14th 2006
We're not in a warzone Elliot: Okay so I imagine anyone out there paying attention to the media must have the impression that all Hell is breaking loose. However, paradoxically the West Bank seems to be relatively calm just now. Anyway, we're not in Gaza, Lebanon or Northern Israel, so we're away from the hairy stuff. This is not to say we are not having "interesting times." We've come back from Jericho now, which was HOT, but not too harrowing. I should have written about this yesterday, because today we went to the Palestinian village next to the wall to protest, and the Israeli army was not chuffed with us being there. If you're just interested in the protest, then scroll down, but I want to tell another story first, about something that happened in Jericho. ... read more
July 12th 2006
I know it's only been a couple of days since Elliot updated you, but we've seen so much the past 24 hours I decided I should have my say as well. We left Ramallah yesterday morning with four others (all Americans) to come to the Jordan Valley. We spent a large part of the day in the car, driving first to Jericho, and then quite a long way north to make a visit to a farm, before returning to Jericho in the evening. It was fascinating to watch the landscape go by; huge, dry, sandy, rocky hills and valleys - Elliot described it as just like Wales but a different colour! It's a bit different actually in the Jordan valley, as the river makes the land a lot more fertile. There are lots of settlements here, ... read more
July 10th 2006
Hey all it's Elliot here. Jemima has gone to bed, but I am to pumped with caffeine- Palestinian coffee and tea are just too tempting. So we're in Ramallah, in the top secret world HQ of the International Solidarity Movement, ingeniusly disguised as... well a flat. For the last 2 days we've been training with other activists in the ways of non-violent activism. JERUSALEM/AL QUDS But before this we "did" Jerusalem, baby. Known to Muslims as "Al Quds (The Holy). We had more time than we thought we were going to in which to mooch touristically about the holy city, and ponder the number of people who had been butchered in order for their bosses to possess it. We were staying on the edge of the Old City. It's encircled by 16th century wall built by ... read more