Here at OWC MA we had the opportunity to meet Eszter and she has a story to tell. Actually, it is not only her story. It is the story of many Palestinians who are not heard in our part of the world. It is a story of people who are cut off of all what all human beings have the right of. It is a story about the most generous and humble people who helped her and her friend Mette while they were there.
As part of their education Mette and she went to Palestine and Palestine is a very special place in many ways. It has a very dynamic history of nations moving in and out. The three major religions of our days are looking at this area as their holy land: Christians, Jews and Muslims. This is the land with all those places: Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth and so many more.
Don’t you have the mysterious feeling that something special must be there?
Well, there are many things – for example: Occupation and something what I would call a silent protest. Protest against someone taking your land, eating your fruits and drinking your water and having the authority to decide upon your life and death.
Why do I call it silent? Because we can’t hear them screaming and crying in Europe or the USA. Their helpless fight is without any recognition.
This, voicing their desperate cries and screams, is exactly my motivation to go there. Listening to their stories, talk and share their experiences, through me and everyone else who went there, reaching out to as many people as possible. Through this article I hope to reach out to many more, sharing their story.
Quite soon after getting into Palestine we saw a clash. A clash is basically when a bunch of Palestinian kids are throwing stones to the wall and the other side. The wall, is the wall the Israelis build to separate Israel and Palestine – just as the Berlin wall in Germany during the cold war but longer and higher. In this case as in most of the cases Israeli soldiers would come and throw tear gas, shoot them with rubber and real bullets too.
I wouldn’t call it a clash. Let’s say that in my eyes this is part of their fight against the occupation.
This clash was my first clash, which they usually have several times a week. We walked through center of the clash. Kids were putting on barricades and set fire, and soon after we saw the first tear gas bombs were already coming from the Israeli side of the wall. We ran till the end of the street and sat with open eyes and a fast heartbeat on the stairs of the mosque. It was close enough to see everything but far enough to be out of the immediate danger zone. Some minutes later we realized that most of the kids are looking in our direction, and suddenly 1-2 minutes later Israeli soldiers arrived from our right side with huge armored cars and guns. This was my first clash I felt my heart beat so hard for a moment. They passed us and started to fight with the kids; KIDS!! Perplexed as we were we asked our friend about the bullets. He said they are „just” rubber bullets….
The next day we found out they were not „just” rubber bullets but they fired real ones as well and two kids got shot in their legs. Two more were shot, wounded and carry physical scares with them for the rest of their lives as so many other kids and, now, adults have too.
Still, no matter what, these people are amazingly nice. They help with everything even though everyone has their own pain carrying with them from the occupation. They are not hiding it at all. They all are bit broken. I cannot describe it in other words. They know that they have no rights. They know that someone is taking their country away. Even the little kids drawing Palestinian flags, walls etc. From their childhood they talk about the occupation. This wall and the Israeli are so much part of their lives that they can’t think like other children. If you tell them what to draw they will still find the way to draw something Palestinian on it. This is the way how they grow up. They are frustrated all the time; they are all the time told that they can’t go to some places. They are passing check points every single day wherever they are going. Daily challenge, daily struggle.
If you want to go to Palestine, or pass through it from one area to another, don’t forget that you must enter Israel. How come? Because around the border of Palestine there is the border of Israel. If you wish to enter from Jordan, first you have to cross the Jordanian border, than the Israeli and last one the Palestinian border. In this process your human rights are being cut as European and especially as Palestinian. Palestinians have different ID’s and are not allowed to enter Israel, are not allowed to go to Gaza and often are denied entry to another part of Palestine by the Israeli – just because of the color of their ID they got depending on what side of the wall they are born. At the checkpoints they open your bags and check all your belongings. If you are a Palestinian, well you have to be prepared to be humiliated, bullied at, treated badly, body checked, deny entry or they make you wait for long hours. Think about it!
Yet, the Palestinian people are helpful and humble everywhere. They want to help you and share their stories. We felt at home right the same day. Our friend showed us our room and we had our first tour around Abu-Dees (the village where we lived). We were very well treated and as soon as they understood that we want to talk to people and help somehow they started to organize things. Some days later we already were working with kids, and teaching them. We had a class of adults as well we were teaching them English. We painted walls with kids, stayed in a village and absorbed the Palestinian friendliness.
Despite everything they had such a wonderful time and Palestine stole their hearts forever.
Eszter Szabo (edited by Daniel Arendzen)