As you may have gathered from my last post, I went with a heavy heart, sick with despair, hardly daring even to think I might find any reason for hope. Now, two weeks later, I have become a witness to the stunning resilience of the human spirit.
He tells us that even though they are in "Area A," supposedly under full Palestinian control, they are still subject to curfews; many roads, including a main thoroughfare through the middle of the camp, are for Israelis only; soldiers regularly come on raids; the Israelis keep water and electricity cut off much of the time--but he says to us, a group of fifty Americans, if we want to help, "Do not send food or water; what we need most is education. We need education so they will see us as human beings."
We heard this from the lips of virtually every Palestinian we talked with: "We want to be treated as human beings."
It was absolutely incredible to me, the patience with which they spoke--about situations that have me boiling over with rage--they seemed to have a calm determination--as exemplified in the matter-of-fact statement of Palestinian Authority cabinet member Nabeel Shaath, "We know that we will win, because a people cannot be oppressed forever."
Here is a sign I really liked at a community development center in the Dheisheh refugee camp.
The guy at the center was telling us that when they were constructing the place, Israeli soldiers came in the night three times and destroyed the place. They had planned to just call it the Dheisheh Community Center, or something like that, but because they had to keep rebuilding it from ruins, it's now called the Phoenix Center. Someone in the class asked why the Israelis would want to destroy a community center. The response: "That is my question! They usually don't give a reason ... We are in Area A, but it is controlled by the Israelis."
|Salaam li'l Quds - Peace for Jerusalem |
(with thanks to Vicki Tamoush, for translating!)
Anyway, I thought that was such a brilliant image: the phoenix--no matter how hard the powers-that-be try to crush the people's spirit, they will rise again.
"A people cannot be oppressed forever."