Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Demo orders

Today, two men from the Israeli Civil Administration, accompanied by an army jeep, delivered 17 demolition orders to homes and animal barracks in Al Aqaba.

I walked up to the SUV as they were pulling away from a chicken coop they'd just sentenced, and gave them a surprise video interview.

Civil Adminstration guys: What's your name?
Heyy, what are you doing?
No, you're not, you're driving! Did you just give an order?
For demolition?
Yes, maybe...
No (something in Hebrew...)
No permit? Tashrihh?
Yes, no permit (like ahh, now she gets why we're here)
Why is that important? Why do they need a permit?
They started laughing.
Where are you from?
The U.S...
Ahhhh, Seattle...where do you live?
I live here! I have a house here! old are you?
How much time here?
Four months...
Are you married?
No! Why are you here? Don't you know Haj Sami?
Yes, yes, Haj Sami, in the wheelchair!
Ok, yalla, let's go, drink coffee or something...
They declined my offer, and drove off, followed by the jeep.

When I played the video back I sounded embarassingly jovial, I guess I was trying not to look like an activist. For the rest of the day I compiled a list of things I need to learn to say in Hebrew, like, "you're responsible for giving permits here" and "how would you feel if your home was destroyed?" and "do you think these people have any right to be here at all?" and "how do you sleep at night?"

I filmed from afar for the rest of their visit, and talked to Sudki and Raya and Abu Abed and everyone else who was hanging out, watching the SUV and jeep climb around the village. Afterwards they collected all the demolition orders that had been left in doorways, and delivered them to Haj Sami in the office, who signed them all and called a meeting with the governor of Tubas.

While my videos were uploading, I decided to go for a walk, maybe up the mountain. On the way I saw Haj Sami, who was talking to a reporter from Tubas, who was filming two children who lived in a house that had just received an order. When they departed I was invited up to the house for tea, which turned into mujadhara (something delicious with rice and lentils), then coffee, then more tea. I took videos of little Mohammad, Jawaher, and Ahmad. Mohammad was the mischevious older brother, Jawaher loved her soccer ball (How old are you? "I don't know!" and shrugged her was so cute) and Ahmad, the little toddler in sweats, could entertain himself for hours with a wheelbarrow.

Their mother invited me in to sit under a blanket, and we watched Tom and Jerry. It was a two-room house made of concrete blocks. I was served fresh goat cheese and bread from the tabun. It was insanely good. After a while I said I had to go but I wanted to come back. There was a picture of Ahmad on the website of one of my visitors, and I wanted to bring my computer to show them.

Before I got back to the guest house, I saw Haj Sami outside the kindergarten. He was waiting for the cement to arrive for the foudations of the new playground. I wondered if the process had been sped up because of what had happened this morning, or if we were just on schedule. Things move fast around here. I got some photos and video of the colossal cement-pouring machine, then went back home to work on video editing. My computer can't take much more, I've spent most of the last 7 hours just waited for it to stop pausing.

Tomorrow I'll finish the video, and there are at least 20 people coming in for a visit and a big lunch. Haj Sami's family has been coming in and out of my kitchen all day. My fridge is full of chickens.

Ok, 2:30. Time to turn in. I need to write a more official report on today.