Reflections: Leaving Las Vegas, I mean, Israel, but actually Palestine

In my experience, the transition from the West Bank to Israel has never been pleasant. It is the act of voluntarily leaving a society where nearly everyone is outgoing and hospitable, then entering one where most people are paranoid, judgmental and usually armed. I was therefore grateful to notice that my driver extended the former qualities, as he pointed to the Palestinian villages we passed along the fringe of the West Bank. “Shoof!” (“Look!”) Beit Hanina hone (“here”),”? he said, pointing to the West, “Ou (“and”) Beit Hanina hunak (“there”),” now pointing to the East. Still smiling, he motioned ahead naming villages we would pass along the way, “Biddu, Beit A’nan, Beit Leqia ou Bil’in”. 

How do you like your blue-eyed boy: The Rally in Bil'in

The demonstration in Bil’in against Israel’s illegal Annexation Wall has developed an almost ritualistic pattern that’s very typical of peaceful protests in Occupied Palestine, where Israeli soldiers tolerate passive resistance for so long before they fire tear gas or rubber-coated bullets — which break the skin and often kill — into the crowd. Doing this invokes stone throwing from local youths, who weather a day-to-day narrative of harassment, beatings and arrests, quite apart from what the internationals experience. If one believes in the adage that “the powerless don’t choose violence, violence chooses them,” then it could be applied here. 

"What kind of army does this?"

On Wednesday night, the relative tranquillity of Birzeit came to an end when two unmarked armoured jeeps rolled lazily into the town center. Three Israeli commandos emerged from one of the vehicles and entered a corner store. “What are you people doing in Birzeit?” the shopkeeper asked. “We’ve come to fight for Israel,” a soldier responded. Although Birzeit is a peaceful village of approximately 5,000 farmers, storekeepers and university students in the hills north of Ramallah, the arrival of the Israeli convoy wasn’t a complete surprise. 

Birzeit Blues

Last week, I went to visit a girlfriend who studies at Birzeit University. I reached there by taking a shared cab sneaking on settler roads, which put the fear of God into me. Ramallah was closed, so I couldn’t take the usual route to Birzeit. Diaa Haddad writes from the village. 

Faculty, staff and students of Birzeit University

As you have already heard and seen on television, scores of people have been arrested over the past few days, and many homes were invaded. This catastrophe did not spare the Birzeit University community, be it the students, the faculty or the staff. Due to the curfew and the disconnection of phone lines and electricity, the below information is all we were able to get concerning our staff, faculty and students. 

A Letter from Birzeit University

Usually we are not informed a priori of what the Israeli government plans to do with us. However, today informing us is apparently part of their terror campaign. I am now at the University but we will probably be leaving early as all Palestinian governmental agencies have evacuated their office and internationals in the Ramallah area have been told to leave the area immediately.