November 2, 2013 by cosmoakacitizensmith
We’re all familiar with our Bible stories, right? Y’know, Jesus was born in a place called Bethlehem and got crucified in Jerusalem? Jewish authorities were in control but they answered to the might of Rome, yeah? Remember?
Well, in 70 AD, Jerusalem was sacked and Jewish people were sent into exile. Fast-forward over 2000 years and on 14th May 1948, the State of Israel was declared. Israelis today remember the year as Yom Ha’atzmaut, or Independence Day, when Jews returned to their historic homeland with a United Nations mandate after the horrors of the Holocaust. However, for Palestinian Arabs living there at the time and forced to become refugees in their own country, it is remembered as al-Nakba, or ‘the catastrophe’. Palestine was split in two between the Arab and Jewish population. Over 750,000 Palestinians fled or were forced to leave, (see first and second part of the map). In an armistice concluded in 1949, even more territory was ceded to Israel, which can be seen on the third part of the map.
Fast-forward again to 1967. Israel and three Arab states, Jordan, Syria and Egypt, fought the Six-Day War. The Arab states were determined to liberate Palestine, but Israel gained the upper hand and occupied the rest of it, namely the West Bank and Gaza strip. Since then, what remains of Palestine has existed in a state of military occupation.
In response to a campaign of Palestinian suicide bombings in the 90s, the Israeli government put up a massive wall cutting off the entire West Bank. The suicide bomb campaigns have since stopped, but the wall cuts into even more Palestinian land. In addition, settler communities from Israel have illegally set up dwellings in Palestinian territory that they defend with arms. The daily reality for most Palestinians includes checkpoints, daily humiliations at the hands of the Israeli army, refugee camps, unending poverty and constant military incursions. Palestinian territory has diminished further to jurisdiction over a small number of cities, towns and villages, (see final part of map).
So what am I doing here? I am here for two weeks with a group of volunteers from south Wales. We are here to be international observers at demonstrations, and help with the Palestinian olive harvest. In addition, we will be involved in various community projects and will be documenting our experiences by blogging and filming. I am an anarchist and have no truck with nationalism or religion. This is another reason why this will be an interesting journey, but I’m not here to preach or impose my views.