It’s comical how much time I spend writing these posts. Especially when dealing with war, which here at Imago, it often does. My process usually involves hours spent consolidating centuries of history, in this case the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, into a thesis-like blog post. As I write, I am conscious that no one in their right mind will read my epic post and eventually I scrap the whole thing in favor of a more editorial approach that focusses on human beings. And so I wonder, who are the people living this conflict? What is happening to them and how are they reacting? I traipse through google searching for that human perspective, and this time I found a story.
Before I share it with you, I’d like to ask you something. What do you think would happen if a group of Israeli soldiers responding to a noise complaint checked in on a Palestinian wedding celebration? What if this celebration was taking place in the city of Hebron in the West Bank, a city characterized by tension and violence, since it is one of few Israeli settlements situated within a Palestinian city? I, conditioned by the worst Hollywood action movies and the most upsetting Middle Eastern news reports, assume that the situation escalates into violence complete with machine gun fire and explosives. This is problematic. These expectations are overly dramatic, too spectacular, and while this kind of violence does occur, it is far from the reality of this evening in Hebron. Read below…
It is assumed that these Israeli soldiers were responding to a noise complaint when they entered the wedding celebration and joined the festivities. Despite the fact that the two communities are usually separated by military fortification and obvious cultural divides, the evening’s jovial ambiance rendered conviviality between the soldiers and the wedding guests. This obviously surprised me (and evidently the author of this as well) and I started searching for further moments of camaraderie between Israelis and Palestinians. I came across this:
I learned that under the Law of Entry into Israel, Israeli people are allowed free movement anywhere between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, while generally (depending on passports) Palestinians cannot move beyond the West Bank and Gaza Strip boundaries . Walls and military check-points ensure that. Not unsurprisingly, the word prison comes to my mind…This must also have also been Mrs. Hammerman’s impression.
Mrs. Hammerman, a 66 year old Israeli who had been learning Arabic in the West Bank, decided to listen to a young Palestinian woman’s wish to get out of the West Bank ‘if only for a day.’ She smuggled her across the military check-points at the border to have a swim in the Mediterranean ocean. This small action blossomed into a larger movement involving great numbers of Israeli and Palestinian women aiming to allow a group of Palestinian women to ‘be free women, if only for one day’ and to spend the day at the beach. This article captures an empowering action of civil disobedience which has since grown into the We Will Not Obey movement, a campaign created to defy the Israeli Apartheid on Palestinian people.
This female motivated, grassroots action to connect Israeli and Palestinian people and grant Palestinians equal human rights, segues perfectly to The Peace Maker.
These actions, like the play, are beautiful, powerful and unlike my over-dramatized Hollywood assumptions, real. Our public reading of The Peace Maker is taking place on the 13th of February at 7:30 pm at Café l’Artère. Space is limited, but if you would like to attend, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me at the office (514.274.3222) and I’ll save you a seat. I look forward to lifting myself away from the mentality that leads me to connect Israel and Palestine with war than to their people. I now know what I want to discover about thisconflict: I want to learn about the people living this conflict, what is happening to them and how theyare reacting to it.