If you are a tourist or pilgrim who arrives in Bethlehem via Checkpoint 300, the first thing you will see as you turn into the street is the concrete barrier that slices it in half, severing the neighbourhood from Rachel’s Tomb and the military base that lies adjacent to the holy site. Get closer to the wall and you will find the women of the neighbourhood waiting to meet you.
One of the simplest but most important aspects of my organisation’s work is providing a space where people can tell their stories. One day Toine had an idea: why not turn the wall itself into that space? We could collect short vignettes from the women who use the centre and hang them on the concrete. The stories would be like windows: tourists on their way to see Nativity Church or eat dinner at the optimistically named Bahamas Fish Restaurant would be able to catch a glimpse of Palestinian life.
Posted in Creative resistance, Feminism, Occupational hazards, Peace and justice, Reasons to be hopeful, Telling their stories
Tagged apartheid, Beit Jala, Beit Sahour, Bethlehem, checkpoints, Christianity, Christians, church, education, feminism, International Women's Day, Intifada, Islam, Israel, Jalazon, Jerusalem, Justice, military occupation, music, Muslims, pacifism, Palestine, Peace, Rachel's Tomb, Ramallah, refugee camps, refugees, resistance, separation wall, storytelling, sumud, women
Reem came sweeping into the office with an agitated clatter of bracelets. She always moves like a whirlwind, but I can tell when something has happened to disturb her: ‘v’ becomes a ‘f’ and she stretches the first syllable of my name to breaking-point.
“Do you know what has happened to me in this sheckpoint today?” she demanded, jabbing her thumb at our rear wall. (‘Ch’ becomes ‘sh’ as well.) “I could not believe my eyes, my ears, my own ears I could not believe! Do you know what they are doing now?”
I glanced nervously at the brimming coffee cups on the desk. She was gesticulating with enthusiasm and I could see a third-degree burns incident occurring if we weren’t careful. I managed to shepherd her into her chair (an impassioned Reem is a bit safer when she’s sitting down) and discreetly transferred the cups to a side table. Then I settled down and prepared to hear yet another checkpoint story. Every Palestinian has their checkpoint stories. Listening to these weary catalogues of mundane humiliation and everyday hurt, I always wish I could change the endings, but I can’t. The only thing left for me to do is listen.
Posted in Don't make me get political, Occupational hazards, On the wrong side of the law, Telling their stories
Tagged army, Bethlehem, checkpoints, Christianity, Christians, Christmas, Easter, IDF, Islam, Israel, Justice, machsom 300, Machsom Watch, military occupation, Monopoly, Muslims, Palestine, resistance, Women in Black