Today felt like the first day of winter. I woke up and the sky was such a beautiful, periwinkle, moody color. The clouds were so rich and full of rain that they took up all the space around Nablus as they poured a soft rain into the streets. I love mornings like this, especially early in the morning before everyone wakes up, when the streets are still quiet. This is when my taxi came to get me to take me half way to the Sheikh Hussein Bridge in northern 1948 Palestine so I could cross into Jordan. It turns out my driver’s daughter is a student in the English department at An Najah, though she’s not in any of my classes. On the way out of Nablus he wanted to drive me by his house so we could get some tea for the road.
I started thinking about his kindness, his generosity with this simple gesture and it made me think about some comments I heard earlier this week from a student that has disturbed me since. I haven’t been able to write it down, let alone really say it out loud because it has bothered me so much. But I’m going to do it now because the racism emanating from the U.S. and from the Zionist state this last week has escalated and I do not like the way it spills over into Palestine. This is one export they should definitely keep to themselves. Anyway, the word that was said was “animal” and it was used to describe Palestinian refugees. I don’t think she knew entirely the implications of that word, or maybe she did. We had a long talk about it, but I still don’t think she understood. She kept trying to qualify, to back step. But the more she did the more I heard her sounding like a privileged white girl from an American suburb afraid of the inner city ghetto because it’s filled with Brown folks. The impetus is the same. But here it feels worse, oh so much worse. The political divisions among various Palestinian factions dominate the headlines. But what really disturbs me most are the divisions I hear from my students based on space–whether one is from a village, a refugee camp, a city. And then inside those spaces it is divided again this time by family name. All of this brings me back to the kindness of the driver. I find myself sometimes uncomfortable around this sort of expression of kindness because I really wonder if I am only privy to it because of my white skin, my privilege as a foreigner. Yet another dynamic courtesy of racism.
In any case, I had a lovely drive through a small, curvy, windy road headed north out of Nablus. I took these photographs of these beautiful farms all dotted along the landscape. There were beautiful streams and wadis which were obviously rich with water and they were yielding gorgeous crops. The farmers were out, working their land at this early hour. Their farms were open and wide on both sides of the so-called Green Line border. Palestinians trying to live as free as they can on their land as they work to feed the people of Palestine, or at least those who respect their hard labor enough to understand why their hard work is worth rewarding while those agriculture products coming from the Zionists are not.
These farmers pictured above from 1948 Palestine, on the other side of the border, were also similarly working their land. But what I was struck by, though I was not quick enough to photograph, is that the Zionist farms are surrounded by barbed wire. Everything about their lives imprisons them while they imprison Palestinians. They even have to jail their food. I took this last photograph of Palestinians farming as I changed taxis. My driver could only take me so far as his license plates won’t allow him to drive on the Jewish-only roads or into 1948 Palestine. So he made arrangements for me to have a man from Nasra meet us on the side of the road and he drove me to the bridge.
We drove through the Palestinian village Bisan, which the Zionists erased with some new name, which I forget. I found this one Palestinian house, pictured above, though mostly they were the usual Zionist architectural eye-sore structure that resembles American subdivisions: where all the houses look the same, all red roofs, all same shape. But of course erasing Palestinian villages and homes wouldn’t be complete if America’s McDonald’s didn’t also occupy that space too.
The Sheikh Hussein bridge was very close to Bisan. It was very quiet experience as opposed to the Malak Hussein bridge, which I much prefer. I did not like being among foreigners whose politics are likely questionable given the proximity to 1948, to Israeli tourists coming to Jordan. It did not feel safe among such people. No Palestinians around anywhere. Though I did watch the truck drivers waiting in the middle of the bridge (see below) waiting to pass under the Israeli Terrorist Forces’ watch tower. I wonder how long they have waited or will wait. I wonder how much food will rot while they are waiting.
I managed to get to Amman at a good hour enabling me to run errands and pick up things I haven’t been able to get for the last couple of months given that I haven’t found a non-Israeli version of them yet. I was struck by how mcuh of Amman has started looking like Beirut. Lots of shops and restaurants here that one sees in Beirut: Vero Modo, Cafe Najjar, Za’atar w’ Zeit, Promod. Not all of them are Lebanese, but they are all ubiquitous in Lebanon. I started wondering if perhaps the Jordanians are trying to become like the Lebanese. But I think they are getting it wrong. There are many amazing things about Lebanon, but the most beautiful pieces of Lebanon have yet to be replicated here in Jordan. One of those things is, of course, the resistance. A real resistance. Another is anti-normalization with the Zionist state. It would be far better to see Jordanians following that path than the one of this mindless consumption and consumerism. That is not Lebanon at its best.