Sharing your experience of injustices with the international community to raise awareness, and expressing your solidarity with the oppressed is the least you can do.
by Alex Caruana
I went to Palestine two years ago. I had always been interested in the subject; I had read a few books and articles about it but always wanted to visit the land – to experience it firsthand and to witness the whole complex reality. It was a very difficult journey for various reasons: first, because I had personal problems to solve and second, although I tried to prepare myself mentally for what I might encounter, I was still not prepared enough (if you could ever be prepared enough for such an experience).
The difficulties of my journey were overwhelming. The arrival to the Tel Aviv airport – where, as a foreigner, and unlike the Palestinians, I had a privilege to land – was a nightmare. I had to wait for two hours and a half while going through two interrogations to get the visa. Nobody is allowed to the West Bank without going through Israeli checkpoints and without an Israeli visa.
From the Tel Aviv airport I went straight to Jerusalem where I was planning to catch a bus to Bethlehem. Almost immediately, I could sense the tension in the air when, searching for the bus, I witnessed fully armed soldiers on horses patrolling the streets.
Discrimination is the rule of the day. A routine example of it is how such vital resource as water is pumped from the Bedouin side to irrigate the tall, healthy trees growing literally on the other – Israeli – side of the road.
I visited two refugee camps with thousands of people who are refugees in their homeland. Everywhere I went I felt the struggle. In a taxi I ended up listening to a true horror story of a man who went through torture and was struggling to build a life after 14 years in prison. In a mixture of Arabic, English, and sign language, pointing at the wires on the street, he explained that he was electroshocked.
Can you imagine hearing gunshots while harvesting olives in a place which looks so similar to Malta? Later you would get to know that those gunshots have killed a young Palestinian man, accused of attempting to attack Israeli settlers. Stories such as this are common. Time and again, a person is killed and the murder is justified as a ‘prevention of a knife attack’, even though a footage would reveal that the victim had no knife and no intention of killing anybody.
As a foreigner, you can help Palestinian families survive by participating in olive picking because the presence of internationals makes Palestinian lives safer. Israeli soldiers avoid shooting at foreign nationals to keep away international media.
Anger and helplessness will haunt you long after you are back home. Helplessness – because you cannot do as much as you would like to prevent such injustices from happening. Anger – because the international community is not doing as much as required to safeguard peace in the region.
Sharing your experience of injustice in Palestine with the international community to raise awareness, and expressing your solidarity with the oppressed is the least you can do. What keeps everyone – Palestinians and others – going is the spirit of commitment to confront apartheid, injustice and ethnic cleansing. The Palestinians and the peace activists kept this battle alive against all odds. They need your support to fulfill their dream – the right to live without fear in their homeland.
Alex Caruana is an activist at Moviment Graffitti
Below are a few photographs taken at the solidarity gathering organised by the Embassy of the State of Palestine and Moviment Graffitti.