Adventures at home, abroad, and online

Category: Mapping Palestine Page 2 of 4

Research trip to the West Bank

In Tel Aviv

Went to this bustling metropolis to do an interview, and drop Hannah off at the airport. After days after day of politics, we relaxed on the glorious beach. I refrained from mentioning the fact that Gaza and Beirut were only 50 miles on either side. Had a nice meal overlooking the sea in old Jaffa, and then went to our hostel for an evening in sauna-like conditions. Remind me not to come to this part of the world in the summer.

Surfer dude
Scooter Cat

The Bottom of the World

Tooled around Bethlehem, saw the very rock on which Jesus was born. I find it hard to believe that a pregnant woman trudged to the top of a hill to give birth, but I guess it would have been cooler in the church. Good thing it was there.

I made Hannah ride a camel at a truck stop, which was hilarious or humiliating, depending on your point of view. Went to the Dead Sea at night, which was only slightly less oppressively hot than it would have been during the day. Floating in the fetid water under the stars was pretty magical, until it was time to rinse off the bromine stew. On our way back, we were stopped by a friendly soldier who reminded us that we were on the road to Ramallah. I was inclined to ask in mock horror, “oh no, are there Arabs there?” But that would have blown our cover. We promised we would be careful, and traveled on into the night.

Jerusalem Graffiti

Met a young conscientious objector at the Nocturno Cafe, which is graced with some excellent graffiti.

Googly-eyes Ghandi
Shomer fucking Shabbos
No legs, no problems


Went to Nablus to see the world’s largest knafeh. We got there a little late because our bus broke down, so instead, we got to see a mad crush of people and no knafeh. We didn’t get up the building from which you could actually see the 75 meter long pastry, so I “borrowed” a picture from here.

Broken down on the road to Nablus
Mad crush
Worlds largest knafeh

Ni’lin Protest

The aforementioned adventure with Jared was going to the weekly protest in the village of Ni’lin. The wall passes through their olive groves, and nearby settlements cut them off from 40% of their land. The protest followed Friday prayers in the mosque, and then several hundred people walked to the wall. Or, as close as the Israeli army would let us. Here is a short movie of the march.

First teargas volley
IDF Prepares to meet us

The first volley of teargas came quickly. For ten seconds, I thought “what’s the big deal?” And then it hit. Eyes watering, coughing, sputtering, I ran through the prickly bushes, over loose stone fences, back to relative safety. I was wearing a press vest with ceramic inserts for impact protection. But people have been killed here, including children and internationals. They didn’t fire rubber bullets this time, only teargas, and that was enough for me.

Brave shebab

We moved along the path of the wall, through the olive groves that the people are set on defending from the encroaching settlement. The soldiers followed, firing volleys from two flanks, pushing us up a hill and away from the wall. The wind was in our favor, and I wasn’t gassed again as badly. The shebab who moved forward to throw stones were used to it, and walked defiantly through clouds with only a scarf around their face. I’ll definitely send Jared my gas mask when I get back home; he’ll get more use out of it here than in Boston.

Teargas in the Olive Groves

We walked back to the town through the olive groves. Last time Jared was here, the army invaded the town, and the violence continued for hours. This time at least, it wound down without serious incident. We hailed a taxi and went back to Ramallah to write, reflect, and shower. The shebab of Ni’lin will be back next week, and so will the army.

Here is Jared’s article for Ma’an, fresh off the wire: Israeli soldiers crack down on Ni’lin protesters.

Update, 7/19: International Solidarity Movement released this video of the protest. You can see Jared and me wearing black press vests running from a huge volley of teargas around 1:55.

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