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Reports From Palestine

by N'zingha Tyehemba
photos by Eddie Aung


Recently, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) hosted “Reports from Palestine” at its 27th St. offices. Various people who had recently returned from Palestine told stories about to-date life in Palestine.

ISM activists/volunteers/staff members who worked in Palestine to “support in non-violent resistance” and to stand in solidarity with Palestinians. The following will give you a much-needed perspective to the Israeli/Palestinian story, that of the Palestinian people.

What was most revealing about their reports form Palestine was what we learnt. Primarily for people interested in going to Israel/Palestine, you learned of how it is to live there. Though, I must admit, standing for two-and-a half hours was hard on my feet, my perception of what has been going on in the Middle East has not changed but has been validated. No longer under the borders of mainstream media, I was able to hear real-life stories from real-life people.

Manar Faraj, a16-year-old Palestinian refugee, spoke of the unpredictable nature of the area in that one “never knows how many days the curfew might last. Amy Laura Cahm, a student at The New School, described the undrinkable water because of the high level of nitrate; she says, “Gaza needs water, some people have not had water in four days.

Gail Miller, a retired Manhattan social worker, talks of a camp “with a very narrow street/lane with houses on both sides.” She continues describing how they were motioned by Palestinians in the camp to “200-300 boys and men sitting on the ground tied up. Immediately, we called CNN, al-Jazeera, BBC. Someone did come.” She finishes with, “well, once we agreed to leave, a soldier blasted a gun right next to my ear and after jumping up in fright I yelled, My taxes paid for that bullet!”

Indeed, they did. With close to $3.1 billion in military aid that Israel receives from Uncle Sam, American tax dollars pay for many of these actions. Miller further states that while she was glad she said it, “the soldier wasn’t affected at all” as he is “not going to change because of what you say.”

In a video clip shot by Rick Rowley of BigNoise Films during his two-week stay, you view what happened one day when a curfew in a ruined town of Jenin has been let up and the people are gathering food, much of what appears rotten in a demolished marketplace.

Some people may not have heard of Jenin so you might want to say “the town of Jenin.” Also, the “you view when” is a little fuzzy. Can you say “You view …”
Shots are fired, a man and young girl have been hit. The people began running but did not seem to have a destination. Some scurried into alleys and others ino broken down buildings.

An omnipotent presence of power and fear in the occupied lands of Palestine are the soldiers. With military services mandatory for men and women who have graduated high school, many of these Israeli soldiers are just 18 years old.
Miller, who likes to see how the oppressors react to all the power that their guns give them, comments that, “some soldiers seem to enjoy it but most of them look scared especially the young ones. The power that the soldiers carry is predominantly if not all, carried out by way of their guns.

Eden Coughlin, a copyeditor who stayed in Hebron helping Palestinian farmers get back to their land told a story of the roadblocks that are characteristic of Palestinian roads. “We met up with the Christian peacemakers Team CPT” (another organization to help farmers getting their fields) “ and got to the first roadblock and we found an older woman there that had been hit in the head with a rock. The area swelled like a huge lump. Soldiers come up and yell "you have to get off these fields’”

Coughlin and the CPT team try and explain to them that this woman needs help and they continue to say with guns held high “you have to get off these fields.” Seeing them persist in staying put, Couglin describes the soldier saying, “there’s a curfew.” Though there was no curfew in Hebron that day on that road there was a “curfew.” Finally, Coughlin said, “the soldiers throw a sound bomb and we disperse.” Coughlin’s story gives us an example of the kind of domineering, despotic control that the soldiers exercise.

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