A Day in Kalandya…

Oct 08, 2007 Published under Middle East, OneVoice Movement

Monday was not a simple day.

It started with a trip to Ramallah for meetings with OneVoice Palestine, as they gear up for the OneVoice Summit. 

They are all working so hard and facing a lot of challenges, but the momentum is steady and the impact is already being felt.

Coming in was tricky because a lot of the roads had been closed off, and the Kalandya checkpoint was also closed, quite rare. But we came in and eventually got there.

Then on the way back things got a bit tougher.

All the main roads were closed so we had to transverse the tiny streets within the Kalandya refugee camp.  Eventually we got to the main checkpoint.

Hundreds of Palestinians formed along the closed roads from Kalandya to Jerusalem.  It is the month of Ramadan, the holiest month of the Muslim year, and Palestinians wanted to go pray to Al Aqsa Mosque.

The Israeli Army was under orders to only allow older people to pass through to pray.

I don’t know if it was out of religious conviction or as a planned civil disobedience march, but the crowds were growing and growing, reaching several hundred people in a tiny crowded section. 

Israeli soldiers behind jeeps were holding the line, with weapons pointed, while more and more Palestinians were coming into the area. 

We, in the meantime, were stuck in our car in the very middle, unable to move – for over 2 hours (which made me miss an interview with Time Magazine – sorry Tim).

Even though a couple of shots were thrown into the sky on a couple occasions when a couple rocks were thrown, for the most part this was not a violent event.

And yet it was so very sad and disheartening.

We had front line seats to all the toils of war and occupation.

There was pushing and shoving, there was animosity thick in the air, there was denigration, there was fear, there was hatred.

I saw all of the people in the area – on both sides of the fence – as victims to this conflict, all sad peons to an unfortunate and unnecessary situation that brings misery every day to too many people because of the extremism and radicalism of a few.

if you think I don’t wonder if this is an insurmountable conflict when I see so much animosity created…

It is not going to be easy.

But then again I never expected it to be.

*   *   *

And it is not because it is easy or because we should be driven by our love for each other that we need to be inspired to act.

We have to prevail because there is just no alternative.

The images of today are nothing compared to what was in 2001-2003, and the images of 2001-2003 are nothing compared to what can be if we allow militant absolutism to become the reigning ideology.

Now it is 5:24am – I am winding down after meetings that evening on the Israeli side with the communications team, and then again phone calls with OVP to refine some documents, and then a few hours of email to trrrrry to catch up…

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