Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hebron: Hell on Earth (if you're an Arab)

I have been working in the city of Hebron for the last month. Hebron is a unique manifestation of the occupation because there are 400 Israeli settlers living right in the heart of Hebron, a city of 200,000 Palestinians. In every other place in the West Bank, settlers are more spacially removed from Palestinians.

The settlers are protected by nearly 2,000 Israeli soldiers. Shohada St, formerly a main artery that provided access through the heart of the city, is now a "sterile street." "Sterile," in this instance, is a euphemism for "an apartheid street." The Israeli military actually permits one group of people (Israelis) to use the street and denies another group of people (Palestinians) access to the street, this distinction is made on the basis of ethnicity and nationality. That's apartheid, that's racism. Palestinians are not allowed to walk or drive on Shohada St, while Israelis can come and go as they please, in the middle of the West Bank city of Hebron.

Settlers just up the hill from Shohada St, have taken over a neighborhood called Tel Rumeida. Some of our closest partners live in Tel Rumeida. This video focuses on one of the Palestinian families that has remained in Tel Rumeida, and faces daily physical harassment and verbal abuse from the settlers. Two things strike me about this video: one, the manner and tone in which the settler women calls the Palestinian woman a whore (sharmouta), it is pure evil; two, the soldiers stand as watch as the settler woman pushes the Palestinians inside their 'cage' (which the settler calls it) and also later when young elementary-age settler kids throw stones at the Palestinians which are trapped inside the cage surrounding their house.

This is Hebron, the craziest, most twisted and evil, yet inexplicably hopeful place I have been.

No comments: