Myrta Ladich and Marianne Torres will be showing photographs taken during their recent trip and sharing more stories and reflections in the Community Building, September 6 at 7 P.M.
By Myrta Ladich
You hear a noise at your front door at five A.M. Clad in your night clothes, you head for the door as an explosion rips it open and armed men burst in, ordering your family out of your house NOW. Your children, sleepy and in their pajamas, are grabbed bodily and flung into the street, as your household goods are thrown into a truck and driven off, never to be seen again. In a half hour you watch, powerless, as a Jewish family is moved into your house, a house you own.
This was the experience of Miriam al-Rawi in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. For months Miriam and her children lived on the street across from their former home. Her eviction is part of a policy of the state of Israel to replace all Palestinians in this neighborhood with Jewish families. She, like the other Palestinians who lose their homes either to eviction or demolition, will never be compensated for her loss. If a home is demolished, homeowners usually must pay the state for the cost of the demolition.
Marianne Torres and I heard variations of Miriam al-Rawi’s story many times during our two week trip in May to Israel and Palestine. As members of a delegation of Interfaith Peace Builders, we visited towns, villages, organizations, and individuals in many parts of Israel and the Occupied West Bank.
We heard directly from Israeli and Palestinian nonviolent peace and human rights activists, spent time in Palestinian and Israeli homes and experienced the situation of Palestinians living under military occupation. Very few Americans ever see or hear what we did.
Our “on the ground” experience convinced us that the heart of this conflict lies in conflict over land: who can live on it, where they can live, and how people move on it.
The Separation Wall, higher and longer than the Berlin Wall, stands as a clear symbol of Israel’s intention to absorb as much of the Occupied West Bank as is possible into itself. Instead of being built along the border between Israel and the West Bank, it snakes, often deeply into Palestinian land, appropriating that land and its resources for Israel.
We spent an evening and overnight in the village of Bil’in**, where the Wall separates villagers from much of their land. On this confiscated land three large, illegal settlements, in which only Jews may live, have been built. Everywhere we traveled in the West Bank we saw construction of new settlements.
How does this affect Spokane? Not only are we affected by the continual wars in the region, our tax money makes this inequitable situation possible. Our share of the 30 billion dollars given to Israel between 2009 and 2018 would provide nearly 35,000 people per year in our county with primary health care, or 517 households per year with affordable housing grants.
Our May trip convinced Marianne and me that as long as Israel continues its appropriation of Palestinian land and resources, a just and fair resolution of this conflict will not be possible.
**Since 2005, the villagers of Bil’in have held weekly Friday non-violent demonstrations in front of the Wall that separates them from their land. The film Five Broken Cameras, an award winner at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, chronicles five years of Bil’in’s story through photostaken by Bil’in farmer Emad Burnat. His cameras, one camera after another, were smashed, but each camera tells a part of his story. The Magic Lantern Theater will show Five Broken Cameras on September 20th.
An Interfaith Peace Builders delegation will travel to Israel and Palestine May 25-June 7, 2013. Look for information about this trip at ifpb.org./delegations/upcoming