We returned a few hours ago from Bethlehem where we visited the Ibdaa Cultural Center in the Dheisheh Refugee Camp. Unfortunately, our visit was cut short by the news of a nearby shooting. A young man was shot and killed by the Israeli Defense Forces near Rachel’s Tomb. The man was from Dheisheh. The news of his death spread rapidly throughout the camp and the Ibdaa Cultural Center, usually lively and filled with kids, was empty. Only the dance troupe remained in the building, practicing for an upcoming tour. The people were angry and were anticipating the arrival of Israeli troops. It seemed wise to leave.
So, I’m exhausted after this day and rather than filling this page with my own thoughts, I decided to let the Palestinians tell a bit of their own story. I have pulled for you a number of quotes from people we’ve met. This is by no means meant to be a complete picture — it is intended solely to give you a flavor of some of what we are hearing.
The United States and U.S. policy
“We don’t have any hope in the U.S. government.” – Ghada Zughayar, Director of the Rural Women’s Development Society
“American policy is no longer American policy — it is Israeli policy” — Mustafa Barghouthi, Board Chair and founder of the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees (UPMRC)
“Without the help of the Americans, the Israelis could not sustain the occupation. The wall is being build with American taxpayers’ money” — Jamal Juma, Coordinator of the Palestinian Environmental NGO Network (PENGON) and the Stop the Wall Campaign.
“Is it true that the Americans want to democratize the Middle East? Yes, it is true, but not for the people themselves” — Hasan Barghouthi Director of the Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center
The political situation in Palestine and the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin
“It is not just a window of corruption, it is a gate” — Hasan Barghouthi, Director of the Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center
“The PA is just the frame of authority — the content is nothing” — Ziad Abbas, Co-Director of the Ibdaa Cultural Center in Dheisheh Refugee Camp
“I am really worried…such incidents are empowering Hamas and the fundamentalists at the expense of civil society.” – Ghada Zughayar, Director of the Rural Women’s Development Society
“The assassination of Yassin is an incredible opportunity for Hamas to raise billions of dollars” — Hasan Barghouthi, Director of the Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center
“At the checkpoints, the soldiers are always teasing people, pushing their buttons, humiliating them…suicide bombings don’t happen on their own” — Majeda Abou Ghoush, Coordinator of the UPMRC’s program for people with disabilities.
“For women the apartheid wall is the same thing as the patriarchal wall.” — Amal Barghouthi, Director of the Working Women’s Society for Development
Dealing with the situation
“I have hope…there are always other doors and with that in my mind, I am able to continue my work.” — Majeda Abou Ghoush
“I make 3 plans for one day…if I don’t succeed with this one then I will do this and if that doesn’t work than I will try this” — Majeda Abou Ghoush, Coordinator of the UPMRC’s program for people with disabilities.
“The important thing is not to lose our humanity, mothers’ tears are salty everywhere” — Amal Barghouthi, Director of the Working Women’s Society for Development