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West Bank, Oct 2015 • A Traveling Friend Reports

FPT-AWP is simply Friends supporting Friends with a concern for peace, visiting local people with a concern for peace, and using our best discernment on how to preserve peace in the world. The following is a report from Minga Claggett-Borne, traveling in the West Bank:

 

October 24, 2015

We encountered some interesting discrepancies: As we try to find our way around (check on taxis as they drive us) we noticed that google maps do not have any of the streets in Hebron city (H1 nor H2) labeled although they’ve been around for many many years. However the illegal Israeli settlements that have sprung up in the last few years all have street names.

Hebron is the largest city in the West Bank, more than a million people. Some telephones are Israeli run and they can call Israeli area code phones. Or they are Palestinian phones that reach only Palestinians. It’s super expensive to call across the lines to the other, although they are physically close. For an outsider it’s crazy-making. Many peacemakers have two phones.

I have spent two days in Hebron. On Sunday, during a workshop with 27 women, we heard a Palestinian female student, 17years old, was killed by Israeli soldiers beside the Ibrahim Mosque. The death toll this month of Palestinians is 65 and Israelis is eight. The oldest Palestinian killed was 22 years old. We are asking whether besides tear gas, there is another pain gas being spread, because so many recent deaths are from tear gas. I ask Palestinians three questions: What do the protesters want/expect to accomplish? What steps do you think you can take to help the current conflict? What do you want me to share with the American people about peace in the Middle East? I will ask the same of the Israelis that I meet.

I assure you Jonathan and I are safe and are taking precautions. Tomorrow we are going into Hebron schools to see some nonviolent AVP classes. There are about nine AVP facilitators here and about three speak good English. My Arabic is only a few phrases but I’m learning more every day.

I have spoken most with Maryam, Haymin and Ibrahim. They say the Palestinians are not against the Jews nor the Jewish state existing. They are against the settlers, and the way the state supports the settlers. “We are probably too full of words, and not enough actions.” Palestinians are asking for an end to the occupation. They want the killings on both sides to stop. They want the crimes to stop.

Haymin has bought land and is breaking ground in H2 (Palestinian land controlled militarily by Israel) for a cultural center. They see that the US government is for Israel, and the US people are for Palestine. Many Jews live happily in other Arab countries, deciding not to emigrate to Israel. Groups of Jews in Nablus and Jericho are against the Israeli state, the Zionism. They have publicly said that they want to live in Palestine, not Israel.

An American Jew visiting in Jerusalem, Robin, told me that some Israeli moves were ‘over the top.’ Netanyahu’s statement that the Palestinians were responsible for the holocaust and therefore the many immigrants coming to settlements. But she explained the local paper here did explain how Palestinian leadership did support the holocaust. She told me that Jews have done a lot in reaching out to find a peace agreement.

pax, minga