'Anabta, Beit Iba, Deir Sharaf, Habla, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Jubara (Kafriat), Sun 10.7.11, Afternoon

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Jenny L., Susan L. (reporting)

We are quite accustomed to being known as, or calling ourselves, “activists.” Yet, recently, we were referred to as “dissidents,” a term which surely describes who and what we are. We are dissidents as we dissent from the established policy of the government. We are dissenters who object to the political orthodoxy of the majority in Israel, and we protest and, yes, act according to now established traditions of our ten year old grassroots organization. We are also recusants or nonconformists who refuse to conform to established standards of conduct for Israelis where many, if not most, believe the eyes of others. Above all, perhaps, we demystify the faith on which much of Israel functions, by refusing to rely on external authority and relying, instead, on our own internal authority, believing with our own eyes, “bearing witness,” thereby maintaining the freedom of expression and protest on which this country must rely.

Below, what we bore witness to, today:

13:03 – the gatesinfo-icon are open -- actually on each side of the Separation Barrier only one of the two gates is open. The pedestrian gate, newly installed only a few months ago, is padlocked.  It is hot, and a soldier even asks if we require water! The inevitable military policewoman is talking to a man in a pony cart, together with a small child, and it looks as if there is an altercation, but no, we are wrong, there is nothing like that going on – this as he passes us from the middle of the Separation Barrier.

13:07 – an army jeep arrives and seems to deliver but one lunch to the one soldier who is obviously orthodox… Besides him, there are three soldiers in the concrete shelter on the Separation Barrier another one in the concrete shelter on the other side and one or two inside: a full complement, more than is called for on this hot summer day in the Seam Zone.

A man arrives on our side, together with an older woman, and he keeps repeating, ad infinitum, that some of the army are good, some are bad.

Not borne witness to, but heard, that now foodstuff for animals, sheep and horses is not allowed across the Separation  Barrier, a ruling which is, evidently, quite legitimate to the newly promoted Matak (DCO officer). Another nail into the institutionalization of the Occupation, and, as usual, it is not pretty and makes us wonder at what lies ahead….

13:15 – as we leave the agricultural gate, one of the nursery owners, already known to us, asks if we’d like water, which we already have – in bottles. But he takes us into the hut, provided for the Palestinians by the Mennonites and the Catholic Relief Services in the beginnings of the Second Intifada, so many years ago, and asks us to drink from the spring water. We feel very privileged as we sip the cool, almost sweet water from the hose and fear that this, too, will be cut off by the Occupier all too soon.

Route 55
Nothing unusual to report, just a lot of traffic, Palestinian and Israeli.

Beit Iba and Deir Sharaf
There is a sign of the start of affluence. The Huwwash Brothers, with their glass imported from China and reaching Nablus via Ashdod, via the back-to-back at Irtah, and the continuing beautiful carpentry work commissioned,  by wealthy Palestinians, in either Israel or Palestine.

Anabta, Jubara and Irtah
Traffic moves freely at Anabta, no visible soldiers and no coffee man at the junction.
At Jubara, Abu Ghatem’s house is festooned with colored streamers: another wedding? Just as important are the white boulders round his property, or part of it, and there is work, but not at this time of day, going on, still, recreating the Separation Barrier. Lots of workers’ “caravans” in the parking lot, built so many years ago – to house no such vehicles at all.

16:20 Irtah
Many workers returning home, no turnstiles or barriers on the way back, at least near us, just a bit of maneuvering needed if a TV or a large agricultural piece of equipment needs to be ushered through the many turnstiles beyond our sight. In spite of the heat, the men  have time to joke with us, “Sure everything is wonderful in the mornings,” or, “how are you girls, today?” and for once, in a life of working on behalf of women’s rights, don’t feel offended. The congenial nature, the good mood of Palestinians, generally, is something that we should be in awe of. It is a sound and a sight wondrous to behold.