The Ongoing Legacy of the Oslo Accords: Demolishing Daily Life for Palestinians. Day Four was spent excavating and constructing at Beit Arabiya. Whilst human chains shifted buckets of rubble and dirt away from the ruins, our contingent from Finland collected rocks in the field next door to build a demarcation wall. Work also began on another wall that will be comprised of 28,000 small mosaic pieces in order to commemorate the number of homes demolished in the OPT since 1967.
During the day a makeshift wooden pagoda was built in front of the menas bathroom and vines that have survived six demolitions were hoisted on top to restore this shaded area. With excitement, the folks unearthing the remains of Beit Arabiya reached the floors for the bathroom and kitchen. The toilet, shattered under the weight of concrete and metal, was found in its original position. Only the base of the sink and a few crushed cupboards were identified in the kitchen. Finally we were able to sweep the floor to reveal the speckled tiles below and we wound our way through the shadow of the homeas former living space. Discovering recognisable artefacts in the ruined house brings a measure of joy but itas also a poignant reminder of the truth in Salimas words, “A home demolition is a family demolition.”
In the evening Sam Bahour visited the camp. American-born businessman hailing from Youngstown Ohio, Sam has been deeply involved in developing a Palestinian telecommunications network and also writes political analyses of the conflict.
His talk began with his personal experiences with the Kafka-esque bureaucratic structures that constrict Palestinian daily life and movement. Sam identified the Oslo Accords as the source of many of these realities, and explained how these agreements were littered with conditions that inevitably gave Israel the mandate to establish its own facts on the ground, to the detriment of the Palestinian population.
Sam then discussed the current situation, invoking Palestinians to move beyond prioritizing statehood to a struggle that most resembles a civil rights movement, and he encouraged greater cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian peace activists. Boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) was also described as a useful activism tool. The campaign may not bring Israel to its knees economically, but it can serve as powerful means to initiate a critical discussion on the ongoing Occupation.
Scott _ Australia
Day 3:Digging up the recent past in a land called Holy.
The distinctively familiar green of the lid of a bottle of washing up fluid winked at me from amongst rocks, tiles, rubble and dust presenting a goal to accomplish within the perplexing confusion of smashed walls and broken support wires sticking up like skeletons. Heaving away buckets of rubble then scratching around stones and finally scraping through the dust I loosened the plastic and I gently extracted the near full bottle. A dishwashing sponge sat dutifully at its side. No need to carbon date this exciting find for the exact date of Arabiyaas home destruction is known, 1 November 2012.
These everyday objects symbolize family life; especially Arabiyaas, wife of Salim, mother of seven and now a grandmother, whose kitchen has been part of family life over decades. Everyday symbols of ordinariness conveying the extraordinariness – the shock, the terror of having the place you call home demolished time after time after time after time. How could the authorities, how dare they arrive time after time, on the flimsiest of legal pretexts? It is my rage at these demolitions and their profound impact upon the family life and the children that has bought me here. Triumphantly waving my washing up liquid bottle I am also sharply reminded that the work here might all be again undone for the seventh time. So why persist? Why take expensive time out to live and work here in heat over thirty degrees, and less than comfort, to rescue a bottle of banal washing up liquid? Simply to make my own statement about the shocking disregard for the rights of the 28,000 Palestinians whose homes have been demolished. Simply to draw attention to the profound trauma suffered by the entire family and particularly the children. I have never forgotten Salimas story of the first time the home was demolished when his six year old son was so traumatized that he ran and hid in fear all day and still as an adult has psychological problems. We as a group of thirty at the very least are a voice alongside Salim.
A Jones, England
Day 3: Where the Sidewalk Ends
I, like many other American children, grew up reading the poetry of the late Shel Silverstein. One piece of his stood out to me in particular