July 26th, 2005
Just looking at the programme of today would give you
the impression that this would be just a routine day. We had scheduled
tree planting in the morning, the second part of the workshop on Gender
for Boys and girls and a presentation in the evening. It was to be a
routine day in the greater scheme of the Peace Trees project. And because
we are here, in Palestine, some disturbances were to be expected.
But for me this became a day that had a new, strange
and worrying dimension. I can't remember to have been so tired, so exhausted
ever before. And that exhaustion was there right at the start of the
day and only became worse. So it was difficult for me to focus, to concentrate
or to find the strength to continue if something didn't go so well.
So I had a day with a different, sometimes funny but
mostly ghastly perspective. And I am afraid it will show in this letter.
Well, time to start my report of the day. We planted
trees and we did well again. Looking at the small plants that are still
standing at the school I guess we have planted at least 1200 hundred
of them in total. Twelve hundred holes were dug in the middle of the
road, two rows one on each side, about 50 cm metres apart, so we must
have covered about 300 hundred metres of road. I will check this tomorrow.
And again the television crew was there: have you seen
anything on television about a bunch of crazy people planting trees
along a road on the West Bank? The people living and working around
helped us with watering the plants and by giving us coffee or tea.
One thing was worrying though. Someone told me the expectation
of the people there is that within one year the plants will be destroyed.
They think that when there will be tanks in the street again, one of
them will drive over the plants.
Well, I can just hope that this horrible image will not
keep them from taking care of the plants. In the afternoon I hopped
in and out of the workshop. My lack of concentration and my low tolerance
level just made it too hard for me. And by doing so I gave my friends
who were struggling to keep 25 young people involved an even harder
Around dinnertime something beautiful happened. I have
decided sometime in the last 24 hours that I will travel back home in
two steps. I want to spend one night in Israel. I am hoping to meet
a few Israelis. What I am hoping for is that this will help me shift
my perspective on the situation here. Right now I know I am biased towards
the Palestinian point of view and I do not want to see Israeli as aggressors
only. And what happened? We got company again; a young Israeli woman
just came to visit us. And she is not afraid, just curious. She struggles
with all the Big Questions here but accepts that there is no easy answer.
Zohar, I am happy you came along!
In the evening Amer gave a presentation. Amer is connected
to the school working with the kids on for instance Art projects. The
reason we asked him to come was that Amer is the brother of a suicide
bomber. He brought along a video made during the start of the second
Intifada by a Japanese camera crew he worked for. We saw tanks in the
streets of the Dheisha refugee camp and as a contras young people working
at an Art project on the UN premises next to the camp. What we saw of
the fighting was an unequal battle between children throwing stones
and tanks and soldiers shooting.
After Amer's brother had killed himself (and others)
nothing happened for two years. But then the Israelis came and destroyed
the house in which Amer's family lived.
An incident ended the day. Suddenly it became clear that
one of the international youngsters was missing. And it took awhile
to find the adult that actually knew where she was. And she was back
here half an hour later. Happy end!