beauty and violence

The weather this week has been really amazing. The past few days have brought Nablus a khamseen and rain that made the sky so blue, the sun so bright, and the clouds so billowy and beautiful. The light, especially in the evening, is magnificent as it hits the mountains of Nablus and its white houses along with the various shadows that the clouds cast on the hillside. This was reflected in the mood of the people as I ventured downtown this afternoon to buy some famous Nabulsi sweets. All the streets are blocked off to traffic downtown now and there are tons of carts selling everything from toys to candy to fruit to clothes for the coming Eid celebration this week.

But amidst the celebration and beauty here is always the violence and racism unleashed on Palestinians and their land.

As loud as the khamseen winds have been, one can still manage to hear the sound bombs that Israeli Terrorist Forces (ITF) unleashed on us today. Nablus also awoke to an ITF invasion, perhaps its New Year’s or Eid gift to the city:

A large Israeli military force invaded early on Sunday morning the West Bank city of Nablus, Palestinian security sources reported.

Witnesses said that Israeli army vehicles drove across the city for more than a couple of hours and that the Israeli soldiers conducted house-to-house searches, with no causalities or arrests reported.

Although perhaps this is the real New Year’s gift to those of us living in the West Bank, as this headline and article discloses: “IDF To Seal Off West Bank Ahead of Rosh Hashanah.” For those not in the know, “IDF” is the Zionist state’s attempt at hiding their terrorism under the euphemism of “defense.”

Yesterday, there was a lynching just outside Nablus, courtesy of illegal Israeli settlers:

A number of Israeli Jewish settlers lynched yesterday night a Palestinian Shepard in the Aqraba village, an outskirt of the West Bank city of Nablus, Palestinian security sources reported.

The sources said that the settlers, believed to be from the Etamar settlement, opened their gunfire on Yehya Atta Bani Monia, 18-year-old, while sheparding in the evening of Saturday.

Witnesses who found the corpse of this Palestinian slain said that at least 20 bullets have been riddled into his body.

I ventured out of Nablus this evening to try my luck at Huwwara checkpoint. Another student had invited me to her village for iftar. Conditions were better than usual this afternoon, mostly because the university gave us the entire week of for Eid al Fitr so there was no student and faculty traffic waiting in line. I managed to get through without a problem today and as I walked through to the other side I noticed that Machsom Watch was there today. I asked the woman why they never seem to be there when there are problems (not that they do anything, it seems to me, other than literally watch). The Israeli woman, who spoke with an American accent, told me that they are there during high traffic times and when there are problems, but that their presence often doesn’t do any good. She said that the situation at the checkpoints has deteriorated since 2005 and that oftentimes their presence exacerbates or inflames things. The ITF refuse to speak to them, they are not allowed to go inside and speak to Palestinians waiting any longer. And she thinks they are just another audience for the ITF. I wonder, really, what is the point then? Is it to relieve their conscience that they are interested in “peace”? Is it to show how great and “liberal” the Jews are? (Read: Jewish supremacy.) Interestingly, she had read my post from the other day about my incident at Huwwara and she said that there are no laws that govern the checkpoints or any ITF or illegal settler practices inside the West Bank. It’s basically all about military orders and the whim of the various forms of Israeli terrorism.

I left Huwara and met my student and we hopped on a bus to her village, Beita, about 30 minutes from Nablus. On the way there we drove through the village of Huwara, which borders on her village. As we turned left off of the main road to head to Beita, she showed me a small Palestinian house. It is just at the beginning of the junction where Beita begins and Huwara ends. She told me that early on in this second intifada the family who lives there was beaten up by a band of Israeli terrorists who kicked them out of their house and took it over. Apparently, this Palestinian family now lives in the U.S. And who lives in their house? A band of Israeli Terrorist Soldiers. This is in the middle of two Palestinian villages. There are no settlements nearby. But this is how colonialism begins. The taking over of land, the assault of human beings, the theft of their home. I didn’t have time to get a snapshot of the house, but these other photographs are of Beita from my students’ home. A beautiful village, and you can see how gorgeous the sunlight is at sunset here.

The iftar was amazing, too, as was my student’s family. It was a nice change to be among a large family. I lost count of how many brothers and sisters she has. One of her brothers told me a story about going home through Huwara checkpoint recently with a textbook called Palestinian Studies, a book that is related to a class that all students at An Najah University are required to take. He told me that one of the ITF soldiers saw it, looked through it, and noticed that the last page has a map on it. The map is of Palestine. The soldier demanded that he say it the map is of “Israel.” When he refused he was arrested and detained for three hours. But there were also happy stories like helping my students’ younger sister with her English homework. And there were also happy toddlers toddling about the house and screaming with joy. These are some sounds I have missed of late.

On another note: the merging of US-Israel as the 51st state phenomenon continues. As the settler colonial state of Israel held its own first ever American presidential debate.

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