Thursday, December 29, 2011

I'm nursing a cold and bundled in blankets on the couch in Souli's apartment. I made a vat of vegetable soup and fresh-squeezed orange juice, and I'll be turning in very shortly. Souli's running around setting up a meeting tomorrow for internationals, Palestinian ex-prisoners, and Gershon Baskin, the Israeli who negotiated the Gilad Shalit deal. It's cleared with the PA and there's security arranged. The only threat is anti-normalization activists, who don't seem to be aware that there are people working productively for their cause. But I don't blame them, I wouldn't know it if I weren't sitting on this couch, listening to the phones blowing up. 

And are they ever...the Palestinian Authority is furious over this last piece of news:  Right Wing, Palestinians Brainstorm at Ariel Parley. The event, which discusses a joint Israeli-Palestinian federation, was shut down by anti-normalization activists in Jerusalem. So where did it move to? Ariel. Ariel! An illegal settlement of 17,000 that cuts so far into the West Bank it's known as "the Ariel finger." Academics and performers worldwide have boycotted Ariel, including 165 Israeli academics, who signed the following statement in January:

According to the petition, the settlement “is not part of the sovereign territory of the State of Israel, and therefore it is impossible to require us to work there. Our conscience and our social responsibility demand that we bring forth an obvious stance on the matter.”

The petitioners also say that Ariel “was founded on occupied territory. Only a few kilometers from the flourishing settlement, Palestinians live in villages and refugee camps under difficult living conditions, and lacking basic human rights. Not only do they not have access to higher education, a number of them don’t even have access to running water.”

The contrast between Ariel and the surrounding Palestinian areas constitute “two different realities that forge an apartheid state,” the petition adds.

The PA is riled up because one of the main speakers is a Palestinian-American (born in Jerusalem, raised in...New Orleans?!) who is going over their heads and legitimizing Ariel at the same time.

I have to say, this event is intriguing, and this American has guts. Settlers have so little exposure to Palestinians on that level because they're so segregated. Is it actually smart to bring Palestinians onto their turf, and did the outcome legitimize the means? I'm all for settlers waking up to reality, and this was a once-in-a-lifetime event (I don't think there will be many more...), and in order for it to happen, it had to normalize the settlements, even while it threatened them, in a way. What a strange tug-of-war.

Well, tomorrow is a big day. I'll be leading classes in two villages around Ramallah, then meeting my couch surfers, going to the Gershon meeting, hanging out on the town, then heading to Al Aqaba on Friday morning. Then the next day is New Years Eve. What a cruddy time to be sick!

Thank goodness for fresh orange juice. Time to hit the hay.