1. on the other side of the divide i sit, laptop on lap and dandelion tea, milk and honey in a mug on the floor next to me, sent from australia with love; a large difference this tea makes to my psychological happiness, i treasure it now, counting my tea bags carefully – one today, or one used three times today, what will it be?
oh how the difference is on this side, in the centre, in the middle of ‘israel-proper’, away from ‘it all’, but never is it far away.
i’m going to backtrack a few days, and then backtrack some more to add some photos from last week in palestine. with reference to the “shahida: bearing witness” post.
again we find ourselves under the cement threshold of the miklat (bomb shelter) in be’er sheva, our almost second home now; a place, now the war is ‘over’, that has returned to it’s original space, ‘dukium’ a negev coexistence forum; and we’re back here because we can stay here, and there was a talk on last night about the Goldberg Report on the Bedouins of the Negev; carefully translated through loud whispers by elad; basically i learned that the report wasn’t much good. committees upon committees talk and meet and write reports and nothing ever comes of it..
and now it is quiet, the hebrew-arabic class has finished and elad has gone to dinner with some friends, and as i was drifting already i chose to stay in; for now my mind has space.
it is a mixture of eeriness and comfort being ‘underground’; to be covered by so much cement, built here for times of war, used here in the reality of war; a strange feeling to wake up in the morning knowing the sun doeseth shine outside, but it’s dark in here; perhaps a feeling resonating with those living in the aftermath of war (if i may be so cliched?); those living in the aftermath of losing everyone you loved, and every-‘thing’ that was ‘home’ and ‘life’, (that pen that was given to you, of which you used to write your poetry, that t-shirt of your son’s, with ‘los angeles’ written on it, that has no relation to the US, only to your son; gone now, without a choice), ; those suffering from trauma and sinking, or already sunk, into a deep depression that no words, sounds, smells, tastes or feelings can bring you out of right now, and maybe not for many bright-dark days to come.
i have never thought of war so much, never had so much conflict, so much suffering on my mind (and i have the priviledge of it to be only ‘on my mind’), as i have here in israel/palestine.. Never have i seen so many images of a one peoples suffering and life under oppression/occupation; never before have i been reminded every-single-day of a ‘division’, an apartheid, a pain being carried out every-single-day; and oh, only the smallest of things need remind me of this: like what? like being here!
and i know it is the focus of my eyes, the focus of my lens that sees this, and perhaps i have only selective vision accompanying selective thoughts; but for now this is my reality and thus this reality shall stay.
today; even though slow and minimal, i feel of it of worth. Late afternoon we leave the coffee shop rain refuge and walk out of be’er sheva city into the industrial area and into the wasteland surrounding it; and there is so much so much so much trash, discards, ecological toxification than perhaps i have ever seen in an urban setting. Once were rivers now white foaming cappucinos. once was scrubland now is branches clothed in plastic, once was air now only fumes; and of course there is always coca-cola. and bedouin villages in between the railway, next to the highway, next to the prison, next to the coca-cola factory, next to the once were rivers, next to the toxicity of all israel. and here are sheep with no grass to eat and a small child plays in the dirt mounds behind a fence and our shadows on the tin shed do not distract, and of course the sun is glowing down slowly and prompts introspective thought and there is a chill in the wind and i image this imagining and imagine this image as i am directing my focus, and the memory will perhaps be stronger than the emulsion.
and all for now is sage and lemon tea, or dandelion milk and honey, two oranges and some yoga. then darwish to write me asleep, to bring me inside his words, under his pen on top of the page, into his morning coffee, into his apartment into his life under seige in beirut, and perhaps these are no thoughts to put me to sleep with, but the thousand-meaning words are what remains; and how they do dance amidst the fear and shellings, for what carries me along this daily existence, his words so full of the experience so many experiences find it so hard to find words to fulfill the experiences.
so tonight let it be myself to sleep.
2. Kaweah ; strong : i walked into the home of an amazing woman last week; her name is Umm Kamel, and her home is a protest camp in east jerusalem; earlier that week on a tour of the settlements with the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions we had been pointed out her camp, so i knew i had to go back and visit her, and see if she would tell me her story.
As i approached a man was leaving and i explained to him who i was and what i was doing, he was very welcoming and quickly explained to another man, Khaled the media coordinator, and to Umm, who i was and what i was doing; Umm welcomed me into her tent and i sat down explaining to Khaled what my project was about and what i was hoping to talk to Umm about, he was very receptive and translated to Umm in arabic what i had just told him, she agreed to be recorded and then later photographed, and as she spoke i was absolutley mesmorised, as if i could understand every.single.word. She spoke with such strength and clarity (later i learned the word for strong is Kaweah (i do not know if this is the correct transliteration)), and i could feel the history passing through her words and into my voice recorder. So as yet i have not had the recording translated, but it’s in the process of being done, and because she spoke so much and for so long Khaled couldn’t translate even 1/6th of it. So i am extremely eager to read the translation to know exactly what she was saying. A lot about feeling choked by the government, perhaps, and a lot about a false democracy, and also i asked her to speak about the land, the earth ‘el-ard’, as this seemed vital to her struggle as well as to what i am working on.
So, in brief; her story is as follows: “When Umm Kamel was evicted from her home in Sheikh Jarrah (Jerusalem) on 9 November, where she had been living with her family since 1956, it was the second time in her life she was forced by the state of Israel to leave her home. The first time was in 1948, when she and her family were forced out of their home in Jerusalem…” ““I am really a daughter of the Palestinian people, whose history is to go from place to place to place” Umm Kamel said. “I would like to know, why they [the state of Israel] took me out of my home. I can not forget what the state of Israel has done to me. […] I demand the right to return and it is not only my right—it is the right of all Palestinians” ““Is it my fault that I’m a Palestinian?” Umm Kamel continues, “this is the Israeli democracy and humanity—it is their [the state of Israel’s] policy toward the people of East Jerusalem. Umm Kamel has been living in a tent near her old home in Sheikh Jarrah since 14 November, though the tent has been demolished by the Israeli authorities three times.Since her husband, Abu Kamel, died on 23 November, however, the Israeli police have not demolished the tent in which she is living. However, as a Palestinian woman close to Umm Karmel, stated, “They [Israel] do not give up. They want to surprise us. They never give up and no one knows what will happen.” “The future for Umm Kamel is as unknown as it was three weeks ago [december], when her family was forcefully removed from their home. It would appear that the Israeli authorities are not sure how to handle the situation. They realized during the last three weeks that this case is becoming a symbol of the situation for Palestinians in the occupied East Jerusalem and that it will not vanish away. Yet Israel has not backed down and returned the family home. One thing is sure, the protest is strong and will not end, no matter how many times the Israelis demolish the protest tent.” http://www.alternativenews.org/content/view/1448/477/
3. and so here i sit and worry about money, about it vanishing and not having the comfort of knowing i can buy my way home if i need to; when i am learning, seeing and experiencing a world of lives of which money is not often existent, and so i shall stop with my woes; and i shall sip my tea of resilience and strength, for these small comforts are the small comforts that deviate from notions of isolation and move me on my way.
for next week i will leave this land and cross into sinai, egypt, because my visa runs out and i am really loving the excuse to leave these lands, to see the red sea, perhaps to see some ocean life through a mask and feel the salt on my skin, to sip many more cups of tea and read many more words and think many more thoughts, and then i am going somewhere after that, but i will not tell you where just yet; and i will be back at some point and i am not sure when, and where is ‘back’ anyway for a traveller far from her mother-soils? back to this land of where i am placed until june, but for now i will remove myself and set foot on my solo way for a little while and wish me luck for this solo being for now.
and below follows photographs from the previous week in palestine. very much unspotted and badly scanned.