Miracle needed !
This time I am not sending you a report about my adventures
over here. This time I need your help.
The Hope Flowers School is, as you know, a four-story
building. And it stands on a hill. The playground is lower then the
fist floor. So are quite a few of the classrooms.
I mentioned to you that we have one disabled participant
in the group. But I know that among the school kids there will be more
since it is the schools policy to integrated disabled children as well.
And although the first floor and playground area are
made accessible for people in wheelchairs, the rest of the building
is not. Everyone just has to use the stairs. That does not feel right.
I think it would be a great improvement if the school
would have an elevator. A thought that of course has came up before.
So it was easy to put a price tag on this, it is $40.000.
Now this is what I need your help for. What ideas do
you have to get that sum of money for the Hope Flowers School? As you
know I will greatly appreciate your ideas on this.
July 27th, 2005
Wednesday and I have been here now for two weeks. It is all going so
fast! The schedule says we are going to have a sort of routine day again
today. New is that the touristy tours for Earthstewards start today
as well. Many of the internationals will go to Hebron today, sightseeing.
So at eight thirty the place is almost deserted, the touring group
is gone and a few others went to the Al Khader road with the youngsters
to start digging holes. Just three internationals, two volunteers and
an Israeli young woman, Anne*, that stayed for two nights are waiting
here for Ibrahim to come with the mini-bus so we can transport plants
to the road.
And then a row of Israeli military vehicles showed up on the settler's
road behind the school. Most cars were personal vehicles. And there
were two huge trucks: transporting a bulldozer and a huge demolition
machine (a motorized sledge hammer).
From the roof we watched how the soldiers made sure the people there
had left their home and took their belongings with them. Then the machine
drove towards the house and started its work. The house that was destroyed
in maybe ten minutes. Later its inhabitants told me they had lived there
for thirty years, always improving the place when money was available.
From then on all happened at the same time and at several places in
synchronicity. So I am not sure my report will be fully accurate. But
my Friend, I think you will get a good feeling what happened.
Ibrahim appeared. After a short conversation with him I went to pick
up the people working on the road. It was there I learned only five
youngsters had come this morning. We saw all others later protesting.
I went up the roof again with the internationals I had picked up. New
was that soldiers were trying to stop people to walk from Al Khader
to where the houses were being destroyed.
The two who went with me to the roof were still there, one of them
being Anne. I found her hiding in a corner, crying. The reality of what
is going on here is so much harder then the stories, newspaper or television
reports. And witnessing soldiers of your own country destroying homes
of innocent people you care for must be incredibly painful. Anne proved
to be brave and capable of giving support to a young Palestinian woman
that had just lost her house. She was my hero of this sad day.
We (Ibrahim and all internationals at the school) decided we would
walk to where the demolition was going on. So we climbed the roadblock
and at first joined a large group of Palestinians watching from a distance.
Then we moved closer to where the soldiers were still stopping Palestinians
from walking to the place of the demolition. The tension there was at
moments high. But after a while, because nothing changed, most Palestinians
moved back and so did we. Ibrahim said he would even go back to school.
While I walked from the distant onlookers to the soldiers and back
a few times (sometimes trying to get internationals or youngsters of
our group to get away there), Anne kept her distance. She didn't want
to get too close to the soldiers not knowing what the response would
be if an Israeli would be. She hid within a large group of Palestinians.
Being scared at the same time (I would have been terrified if I had
been an Israeli).
So things were quiet on the road while at a distance the preparations
for the demolition of the next house progressed.
And then a large Palestinian group (officials, a flag) was formed and
walked down towards the soldiers blocking the road. The intention was
clearly to just walk through. Military activity everywhere, additional
vehicles moved towards the group. And although it looked as if the blockade
was 'over-walked', it didn't happen. The blockade was strengthened and
stayed there strong until all was over.
Later I learned that four or five of our group were actually at the
scene of the houses. They were there when a seventy-year-old woman,
after being physically harassed by the soldiers, threw a stone. An action
that was taken over by kids immediately. Soldiers responding by armouring
their guns. Some of the internationals stepped in the middle, helping
mothers to stop the kids throwing stones and preventing the soldiers
from shooting. Again, the incident quieted down.
And so the demolition was finished. A job executed efficiently. A reality
created before the Supreme Court can decide about the legality of it
in September. Again the western notion of ownership and its legal consequences
won over the tribal notion of land, handed over from generation to generation
to take care for. A western victory based on force.
It was incredible to see how many peace activists arrived at the scene
during the day (the morning to be precise). A good and important thing
because something like this has to be witnessed. I found it shocking
to hear (it was only verbal) how aggressive peace activists can be.
The individual Israeli soldiers (there seemed to be only soldiers there,
no officers) restrained themselves very well. These men must be trained
very well. If only there government would give them something else to
After everyone was gone I walked over to the demolished houses together
with Anne. At the first house we were invited to sit on the remains
of the house with the whole family. A man, his two wives and twelve
children used to live there. They were all there, in shock. The asked
us to tell what happened in the USA and Europe. I didn't really know
what to say or to do.
We walked over to the other house. A young couple was, in the middle
of this large pile of rubbish, washing clothes. They welcomed us and
told us that they have four children (ages 6 months to 6 years). And
they told us that he had been out of a job for three years (his permit
to work in the settlement was taken from him).
This conversation was in Arabic I think. Although I heard Anne say
she was Israeli and so it could have been Hebrew to. She and the Palestinian
woman were standing there, holding each other's hand, looking each other
in the eyes, sometimes smiling, both crying.
As I said, Anne was my hero of the day.
*Anne is not her real name. Israeli are not supposed to be here, so I just used Anne