Sunday, May 14, 2006

Where I have Been

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- 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.


Anonymous said...

I cry with you.
Ina Klugt.

Olga Norris said...

I completely agree with you. I think that we should always call the wall a wall, because 'fence' has deliberately been chosen as a mild friendly, helpful sounding name. Wall is what it is.

What happened to the Berlin wall gives me hope. We just have to keep plugging on at our political representatives. I'm a great believer in writing to my member of parliament and prime minister. If all of us wrote what we felt, in cogent, reasonable letters whenever some outrage has been committed / permitted, then perhaps something might happen.

Anonymous said...

I read things like this and feel impotent. I watch with increasing horror, the attempts of the 'super powers' to gain dominance over countries whose politics they dislike. Although I'm not a political person I feel that I should be doing something to express my distaste - but what?


Digitalgran said...

I'm not politically minded, but things like this make me mad. Why can't we all live peacefully together in this day and age I don't understand.
It is all so very sad and there seems to be nothing we can do about it. We can't even influence the things that happen in our own constituencies.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Actually, we can do something about it. Your post is one way. The way you use your art talent to be an ambassador of good will to places it is easier for the rest of the world to ignore or stereotype. Reporting in that people are people wherever they may be whatever government they are forced to live under. It's the one on one relationships that change people's thinking. I can't even imagine going to some of the places you have gone and think of you as so brave. You're doing good things with your art.


Anonymous said...

My Dear Dijanne,
Warmest greetings from Birzeit/ Palestine.I hope all is well.
I have just read your comments on your visit to Palestine and I am deeply moved.In your short visit you were able to capture the essence of our cause and the tragedy and injustice in our lives.Thank you for caring and for speaking out.We have been honored by your visit and by viewing the beautiful and creative work of the textile artists from Australia." Across Australia " came with a message of love and closeness to the land. We share this with our own landscape and will always work towards liberating our people , our flowers and trees and our humble terraced hills from the tyranny of occupation.
Yes the wall has to come down. Human dignity will be restored and freedom will see the light.
Tania Nasir

Mandi aka Fabric Princess said...

I'm very sorry to say that I had no idea it was like that there! This is something that we (in America, at least) are never told. What a horrible situation. I wish that I could help, or say something to someone who could help or make a difference. People can be so cruel and horrible, it sickens me :(

Anonymous said...

I jUst came back from your exhibition in Nazareth . I was too in the first exhibition in Istael that take place in Tel-Aviv in a very nice galery in downtown. that because of a big help that you get from the Israel quilters. you didnt mention any word about it but you feel free to talk about politic situation ,information that you heard from one side. did you talk about it with people in Tel-Aviv? I dont think so. did you want to knew why it happened and what people in Israel feel about life? I dont think that you do. B

Felicity Grace said...

I can't say we are never told in the West - we see it daily on the news. Perhaps that makes it all the worse because millions of people (viewers) are well aware of these human rights abuses and remain silent. I am incredulous at some of the things that are inflicted on the Palestinians with the support of the US government. To paraphrase, they say evil can flourish when good men turn a blind eye.

Last week CNN were showing children dying (literally behind the reporter) from kidney failure as no drugs are allowed in. Would there be an outcry if just one of those kids happened 'not' to be Palestinian?

Anonymous said...

I meen I S R A E L in my comment and not Istael.

Olga Norris said...

I found a poem you might like on Wordplay Poetry Blog:

It is Peace Comes Dropping Slow by Ken Peters

Deb Hardman said...

Tell me, how can I help? What can we do to change this world for the better. It's like the plight of the homeless here. I feel so impotent. I'd like to make a difference, if even in a small way.
I'm not rich, I'm not famous. I can't even go away for a weekend because there would be no one to care for my 92 yr old aunt. What can we do, as fiber artists, to make the world more aware, & make positive changes.

Anonymous said...

to Deb from Alaska:
first of all, before someone fill free to talk for one side of the problem, he have to hear the other side too and may be it will change the point of view of the Israelies and neighbour.
its time to make peace all over the world but who knews how.

Anonymous said...

Your description of the ID cards sounds incredibly similar to the situation in the USSR....except that situation was imposed by the people's own government (not an elected one, but their own government). Israel is notorious for ignoring the UN (kinda like the US) and doing whatever they damned well please. It is pathetic that the world stands by and allows it.

I would love to see someone (UN??) go in and kick their (Israel's) patoots right out of there.

Thanks for giving us an unbiased view of what is going on there. You have confirmed what I have long believed to be true. WHile I have friends in Israel who I love dearly, I have Palestinian friends who are afraid to identify themselves in public as such (if you ask- they are Jordanian) and who can't return home. In the case of one of the doctors I used to work for, the family home in Nablus (that stood for over 600 years- can you imagine??) no longer exists.....bombed by *accident* by the Israeli Army. Oh, of course, the family received NO compensation.....