I am afraid this is going to be a bit of a political rant- so if you are not so inclined please do not read and please note that this is my opinion based on what I saw.
Firstly I want to share with you a website created for Palestinian artists at the Birzeit University in Ramallah under the guidance of Vera Tamari an artist in her own right- http://virtualgallery.birzeit.edu. Please take some time to explore this site- it has a list with images of Palestinian artists and has many articles and other things of interest.I was lucky to attend an opeining of an exhibition of the work of Hassan Hourani- a book he had been making for children- Hassan Everywhere- and which he unfortunately did not finish as he drowned in the sea near Jaffa.
Ok so here goes. I went into Ramallah last week- I have read many things about the issues surrounding Israel and Palestine, I have watched many programs and I have friends on both sides of the fence( literally- I know there are many good people everywhere and in that I must trust for a solution). However what i saw was such a travesty of justice that I cannot stand by and say nothing. I went to Ramallah to set up the Across Australia exhibition at an arts centre in Ramallah.
Firstly the fence- it has been ruled illegal by the international court of justice, but still it continues to be built. But it is not only a wall dividing Palestinians from Israelies- it effectively encloses Palestinians in towns and villages- so the wall is built around, often with only one gate in and out around towns where Palestinians live- effectively cutting Palestinians off from their land- land that they have cultivated and where they have been tending olive trees for hundreds of years. I remember the elation when the Berlin wall came down- and now nearly twenty years on I find people yet again building such an ugly monstrosity
Secondly America, the EU and Australia- effectively the West- have stopped all money going into Palestinian areas because they do not approve of the democratically elected government because they view it as terrorist- - remember it was a democratic election supervised by the UN- imagine if we did that to any western country if we did not approve of whom the people voted for- well for a start we would not have to deal with a number of smirkyfaced liers. What does this mean- no money is going into Palestinian areas , not even aid that some of the Arab states tried to send nor legitimately earned palestinian customs income so over 160,000 public sector workers which include doctors, nurses, teachers, council workers , policemen have not been paid for two months- these people have as an average 5-6 dependants- so you are looking at more than a million people who have not received a single cent since the elections- they have to live, pay taxes, pay for their housing and believe it or not they also need to eat.......
Gaza has been locked down completely - no one can leave- they have not had an flour, rice or milk going in for two months- there are many children in Gaza.......
An act which the IDF ( Israeli defence Force) constantly indulge in is the chopping down of olive trees- which has become the symbol of Palestinian identity- these trees have in the past provided a livelihood for the people. They are chopped down and dragged out of the ground by tanks. One story I was told was that as the wall was being built across the property of an old mans farm- the farm had been in the family for hundreds of years and the olive trees on the farm had come from Rumania 200 years previously. Well of course one can't build a wall on another man's land with olive trees in the road- so the trees were chopped down and destroyed. The old man went to look and had a heart attack.
Palestinians do not have passports- you can only have a passport if you belong to a nation- the israelies do not accept they are part of Israel- so the Palestinians have identity cards . So for example you have a west bank Id card , or a Jersualem id card or a Gaza id card. There are more than 3.5 million Palestinians who live in what is called Israel- there are a further 6.5 million living in other parts of the world. If you have a west bank id or a gaza id you cannot travel outside of your area- so for example you may live in Ramallah but were born in Hebron- and area on the westbank physically separated from Ramallah- you have to travel across Israeli land to get to Hebron- you can't even if your father and mother live in Hebron and your sisters and brothers because people with Westbank ramallah id cannot travel outside of their area.
And these are just some of the things I encountered.I cannot believe, but must because I have seen, that these millions of people who have lived in that part of the world for hundreds of years are denied the rights of citizenship- where are they supposed to go??? I cannot believe that the West can deny access to money that belongs to the Palestinian people because they do not approve of whom they democratically elected. The result of the election might have been different had some concessions been made.
And lastly but not leastly- I encountered many delightful people on my trip- people like you and I who want to live peacefully, raise their children and educate them ( education is of paramount importance to palestinian people because even if the body can't be free the mind can be free) who want to be citizens of the land where they were born and where their fathers and mothers were born, who want to tend their crops and just be a part of the world.