Today was a really interesting one. I skipped church and went to work in Hebron as most Hebronites do, because it is largely a Muslim city with a Sunday through Thursday work week. When I was hungry for lunch, I went down the old city street into the market and got a falafel and went to Laila’s shop to eat. Laila is the woman who runs the women’s cooperative shop where the jewelry and needlework made by local women is sold. For anyone who has read my earlier posts, she was my guardian angel when I kept getting lost the first few days of work. She also gave me some heartfelt advice about convincing my oldest child (whose name I won’t mention) that he needs to get married and start having children.
This is a picture of her with me in her shop.
When Sami from HRC gave us the tour of the old town on the first day of work, he had introduced us to Laila. She served us tea and Sami told us how she vents her frustration at at the occupation by keeping her hands and mind busy making jewelry. One of the specialties are earrings made from pre-Israel, Palestinian coins. I finally chose a pair for myself today – yippee! She also sells keffiyas in every imaginable color, all loomed right here in Hebron.
Here are a couple of shots of the women’s handiwork in Laila’s shop. I am hoping to visit the women’s cooperative where these things are made later this week.
As I was chatting with Laila over my falafel, I told her that I want to meet a local woman, Feryel Abu Haikel whom I’ve read about it. She has become quite well known as being on the forefront of the non-violent resistance front in Hebron. She lives in Tel Rumeida which is on the outskirts of the old city and has been very, very hard hit by the occupation and the invasion of the old city by Jewish settlers and their IDF enablers. She was a teacher and then became the principal of the Qortoba School in Hebron. The school is located on Shuhada Street, the street that has become nearly a ghost town because of Israel’s closure of all of the Palestinian stores and erection of check points. Again, bear in mind that this was all to protect settlers from Palestinians, after 27 Palestinians were murdered in the Ibrahimi mosque by a fanatic settler, even though it is the Palestinians who continue to be attacked by the settlers, and even though IDF soldiers by many accounts outnumber the settlers in the old city. If you don’t believe my account of these things, you can read the blogs of the various international observers and peacekeepers who keep a presence here to protect the Palestinians. Here are a few of them http://blog.eappi.org/ http://www.cpt.org/ http://iwps.info/ http://palsolidarity.org/ )
So, as I was in Laila’s shop asking her about Feryal, who should walk into the shop, but Feryal’s youngest daughter along with her sister out shopping for things for her upcoming wedding. So, I was able to get the go-ahead to visit her mother, with assurance that she is in her house most of the time, and general directions as to walking there. I am really loving fate these days.
This is Feryal’s daughter and me in Laila’s shop. Her sister declined to be in the photo but obliged by taking this shot of us.
I left work a little early to make my way over to Tel Rumeida to try to pay my visit to Feryal. This took me a little bit out of my comfort zone, in that the streets are rather confusing and I do have a tendency to get lost. To get there, I had to go through a check point. As I approached the turnstile, the soldier guarding it asked me where I was from. I answered “the U.S.” He then responded, “What are you DOING there! Don’t you know it’s dangerous?” He was referring to the old city where I have been walking and working nearly every day for the past three weeks. The irony of this heavily armed IDF solider whose very presence is nothing short of intimidating chiding me for taking such a reckless risk as to mingle with Palestinians just about bowled me over. I just smirked and replied, “It’s not scary in the least.” Sigh.
This is what I find scary. This scene was from just today – young, testosterone driven soldiers with big guns, everywhere you look. How very brainwashed these people are, and it starts in kindergarten when IDF soldiers come to their classrooms to glorify the army and fill the children’s heads with fables of the scary “other”; namely the Arab.
Another reason I’m glad I took this walk is to once again see Shuhada Street and to snap a few more pictures. Bear in mind, that this was the busiest market in Hebron before Israel came in and shut down the shops and closed off numerous entrances and egresses.
You can see the barred shops. The doors are welded shut and the shop owners are not even allowed inside their own buildings. What a sad and desolate sight is Shuhada Street.
More closed shops and a a beautiful set of windows, pains all broken above one of the shut down shops.
There was another propaganda sign that stated how the shops were all shut down because of the murderous Palestinians. I saw a hasidic Jewish couple intently pointing at and reading the sign, no doubt beaming with pride that their people were able to put those dirty Arabs in their rightful place. Sigh
So, after a couple of stops along the way for directions, climbing up, up, up the hill to Tel Rumeida, I finally found Feryal’s house. (to be continued 😉 )