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sinking feelings from the dead sea

March 11, 2013

We are preparing to go to Bethlehem to visit refugee camps and then to Hebron, one of the frontlines (if indeed all of the West Bank is not a frontline) of the Occupation.

So today was a bit more relaxed. Only a bit. I did get to float in the Dead Sea which is a great Dead_seaexperience. You really do float, you come straight to the top. Take a plastic cup in a sink of water and try pushing it down. It comes straight back up right? Imagine you’re the cup and the sink is the Dead Sea and you’ll get an idea of what it feels like.

Coming back out of the water was a weird feeling though.  It was the end of the day and like every day we’d been spending lots of the day learning about the lives of local Palestinians.  However as I looked around the Dead Sea resort we were in, I wondered what other tourists were seeing.  Did they notice that it was Palestinians working the bars, mopping the floors and pointing tourists into bathrooms?  Did anyone else know that most of these people used to live off of the land and their ancestors were great farmers and producers of some of the best agricultural produce in the world? Did any of the hundreds of tourists who walk past the workers every day underneath flying Israeli flags know that this land is known under international law as Palestine, and by supporting the Israeli owned business they are contributing to apartheid and the enslavement of a people?

We’d learned lots of this by visiting Auja Eco-education Centre. It used to be that in Auja (I think before 450px-Al_Auja_spring1968), 95% of the workng population were involved in agriculture. Now, it’s less than 2.5%. The local Aujans and Jerichoans used to export the best bananas in the world, now they have to buy their bananas from Jewish settlers who have full rights to the water higher on the hills. Palestinian farmers used to work the land themselves or labour for Palestinian farmers. Now, most of them work for Jewish settlers for fifteen dollars a day. Most were crafters of the land, producing high quality food and produce for the rest of Palestine and Jordan, now like most of the fruit on their trees, the Palestinian farmers in the Jordan Valley are rotting away.
350,000 Jewish settlers use four times as much water as over 2 million Palestinians. Every month the Israeli government measures the water in  the ancient Auja spring, which used to run all year round. Now it is lucky to be flowing three months a year. If Palestinians use too much they are either cut the water off the Auja village or charge a fortune to allow more water into the system. Jewish settlers (there illegally according to international law) face no such restrictions. They take all of the limited resource and the Palestinians are left without.
Before my eyes, as I floated in the Dead Sea, I saw a whole culture being enslaved, a peoples destroyed and apartheid grow in this country and no one will win. Today there were a bunch of Palestinians out along the spring enjoying the beautiful weather and the sound of the water gushing past. There were also two Jewish Settlers trying to enjoy the country side. A young couple. The man had a rifle. At first I was intimidated, but then a wise man pointed out to me, what sort of life is that? When you want to leave your compound to go and have a barbie on the riverside, you have to take your gun in case there is trouble.
How can you enjoy the great outdoors and the easy going air of nature when you need a gun in case your neighbours get angry and attack you? Is that life? Is that freedom? No, the oppressors are in their own jails too. They are not free, they are not happy. When oppression is rife, no one wins…
Peace and love.
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2 Comments
  1. Jim permalink

    Such injustice. Stay positive Greg. To my Palestinian brothers and sisters, as we say in Ireland “Tiochfaidh ar la” – Our Day Will Come.

  2. I love reading your perspective on the time in Palestine. You say the peacemakers and citizens of Palestine give you hope. I agree. But you, and the other members of the delegation, also give me hope. Thanks for the great times and your vision of peace Greg. You have all been a great inspiration for me.

I would be honored if you espoused your narrative here.....

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