i spent the morning in beit lahem because i had a meeting at badil and i was waiting for my friend to get back so we could take one more little trip. after the meeting i walked around the old city of beit lahem a bit and i saw santa claus walking around. i also saw many blow up santa decorations. i’m wondering when this american creation first came to palestine and began to decorate the streets of beit lahem (though i don’t recall seeing any santas in nasra interestingly enough). it did make me think of the opening scene of elia suleiman’s brilliant film divine intervention when we see santa running through nasra. i’m so sad that i cannot come down here for christmas to see what it is like. i cannot believe that i have to teach both christmas eve and christmas day. normally i could care less, but since i’m living here now i would love to experience christmas in beit lahem.
when my friend returned to beit lahem we ate some lunch (more food, more too much food, but yummy food that i cannot say no to nevertheless) at her house and then took off with her sister to yaffa. again, amazingly, we made it through the checkpoint. i wish i could do this with all my friends. but unfortunately i think the only way that it is possible for women to pass is to not wear hijab. i think that if there were men in my car or if women were wearing hijab we would get stopped, questioned, and thrown in jail.
we drove to yaffa for a few hours mostly because i wanted to get baha’a some soil from the city where his father’s family comes from. but also my friend’s sister had never been so we walked around a bit so she could see the city. we walked through the old city, along the corniche, and along the sea shore (i made baha’a a cocktail of yaffa sand and soil and shells). i saw in the distance that the lone former palestinian home on the beach, which was confiscated by zionist colonists and turned into a museum that celebrates jewish terrorism in the form of irgun. this is the same terrorist organization that rahm israel emanuel’s father worked with.
i knew the museum was there–i had read about it in ilan pappe’s book the ethnic cleansing of palestine, but i never walked over to it before to see it up close. it was night so it was closed, and i don’t know that i want to go inside. seeing it from the outside with its sign about “liberating yaffa” and its emblem map that shows zionism’s colonial desires for land between the mediterranean sea and the euphrates river was enough for me.
as we walked around it was interesting because we didn’t meet any palestinians from yaffa. but we saw dozens of families from um fahm. this is the village that i wrote about yesterday where zionist settlers will be staging a protest against the zionist regime’s pulling out jewish illegal settlers from khalil last week. as we walked around the city i managed to find the manhole cover again that i saw in 2005 that is pre-1948.
on our way home we stopped in silwan, a neighborhood of al quds, to pick up a friend so she could go home with us without risking being stopped at a checkpoint. her sister’s house there overlooks the valley and in the very dark picture above that i posted you can see a square building in the foreground. this is a palestinian building recently taken over by illegal israeli settlers. the road leading down to silwan is also peppered with these new illegal settlements. but unlike those deep in the west bank, these buildings are surrounded by palestinian homes and are isolated. sort of like those in beit zakariya that i posted yesterday, though in the opposite direction. but either way it is palestinians who are endangered by these increasing settlements not just because their homes are stolen, but also because these illegal settlers have quite a large arsenal with them. the photographs are difficult to see because it was night, but in the second one of silwan the fence that is in the foreground is what is being used to cordon off and confiscate these palestinian homes.
and so the ethnic cleansing continues. from yaffa to silawn. from 1948-2008. and we can see this rhetoric of ethnic cleansing–or in israeli parlance “transfer”–in the recent words of tzipi livni (whose family also hails from irgun):
“Once a Palestinian state is established, I can come to the Palestinian citizens, whom we call Israeli Arabs, and say to them ‘you are citizens with equal rights, but the national solution for you is elsewhere,'” Livni was quoted by Army Radio as saying to students at a Tel Aviv high school.
“The idea is to maintain two states for two peoples, that is my path to a democratic nation,” she added.
i’m not sure what she means exactly, but it certainly sounds like transfer to me. sorta like the first one. the one that never stopped. here is a program that al jazeera aired during the anniversary of an nakba that is about yaffa. it is in four parts and actually there is a second half of it that focuses more on refugees from yaffa which you can find on you tube. but there is some historical context to the city i visited today for baha’a because i love him and he inspires me. i only wish i could have smuggled him inside palestine, too.