Olives for Hope

If the world is ever going to come to peace,
humanity can no longer be recognized 
on a case by case basis.


Patience Grasshopper

Posted on May 6, 2011 at 10:31 PM

If you are wholly perplexed and in straits, have patience, for patience is the key to joy. (Rumi)

Now that I am not working, what was somewhat of a fantasy, can actually happen (although my parents seemed to think that because I lost my job, I would not be going); and I am preparing for my next trip to Palestine & Israel - this time for three months. Those words - three months - echo in my head - though I know in reality, it really isn't much time at all. The reality of it does bring a strong case of the butterflies; there are so many what ifs....what about school,  where will I stay,  who will I see,  what will I do - can I do this? Not to mention, I will be there over Christmas. So, yeah, I am nervous - but in such a good way.

Anyone that knows me, I think even superficially, knows how affected I have been by my time in Palestine. I was speaking to a friend the other day, whom happens to be gay. I spoke of my discomfort around people that cannot accept my passion for Palestine as an important part of me and their judgments of me because of it (of course I have been told I support terrorists and will go to hell). I found myself saying that my feelings for Palestine were as much a part of who I am, as being gay is a part of him. I wasn't making light of his experience but making the point that Palestine is at the core of me. I did not choose this, and it does inform who I am and many of the decisions I do make. Paraphrasing the words of Parker Palmer - it is the life that wants to speak through me.

Planning for this trip is already proving to be a test; and patience seems to be the life lesson I am working on these days. I want to be able to tell people that when I go to Palestine this time, I will be doing ________.   Especially now that I am at the point where I need to get serious about fund raising, and people want to know why....  But, I am frequently reminded that a different sense of time exists over there - "Oh, we don't plan that far in advance here".

Of course I will be participating in the olive harvest as before, but this time I will be able to follow it into November as it moves north. That part will take care of itself - the challenge is what I will do after the harvest. More and more I feel myself gravitating toward the issues facing the Palestinians living inside Israel. While I was in Galilee last year, I was struck by a semi-hidden 'Jim Crow' system that exists in Israel and I realized that, in many ways, it is harder for these "forgotten Palestinians" to tell their stories.

Many certainly have a difficult time telling them on their own - there is so much at stake for them. But the usual activists are not giving them voice either - the Occupied Territories are where the 'action' is found. Isabella Humphries, one activist that has put her efforts into working for the Palestinians in Israel wrote;

When I tell activists abroad or in the West Bank and Gaza that I work for a Palestinian NGO in Nazareth I often get a similar reaction: a half-disappointed look crosses their faces as they say “Oh, in Israel, you mean.” The one million Palestinians living inside Israel are labeled and classified in a box by the Israeli state as “Israeli Arabs.” The disturbing fact is that many people who claim to support Palestinian rights, both foreigners and Palestinians, do precisely the same thing.

Even I, when I began thinking I would spend a good share of my time in Galilee, have felt a bit like I was "cheating". The West Bank, after all, is where I first discovered my love for Palestine.

Every time though, that I think I have found "the thing" I will do, an obstacle arises. One organization that looked interesting is a Palestinian NGO in the Galilee that is working on environmental education. However, when I tried to contact them, none of the email addresses on their website were functioning. The only organization so far that is a concrete possibility is a mixed school in the village of Sakhnin. But a friend in the West Bank told me that it does not have a good reputation amongst rights oriented Palestinian NGOs; that it is more of an opportunity for some to say "look how nice this is - we all get along" without really addressing the core issues. Then I learned it is actually in a settlement, and I think that is a deal breaker for me.

I have to trust that things will become clearer with time. I am also reminded that it isn't about what I do, but it really is about the stories that are never told here. Collecting them, that really is the job before me. (and, there is a Ukulele, peacenik community in the mountains I could hang out with....Maka Laka Hinnie Ho, or something like that....8))

The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg - not by smashing it.       - Arnold Glasow



Categories: Olive Harvest 2011, Random Thoughts, Palestinian Israelis