Palestine 2016

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Between generous hospitality and desperate hopelessness

Thanks to my friend Hiba I had the chance to explore Palestine in 2016. Some short visits before were poor because just tourist. This time was very different and intensive. It will take me a long time to really understand what I experienced.
I already see everything in a different way when I hear news from Palestine.

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I met so many people and had the feeling to be welcome like an old frien, never felt hostility or refoulement. Such a kind and respectful people with open hearts. bIMG_20160528_133304
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I discovered a great religious tolerance. It was normal for me to enter all mosques. Nobody asked me or looked critically.
There are still many Christians with own churches and schools. I was told about jewish families living there for generations in peace with their neighbours.
I felt like on a friendly peaceful island in a region full of war and terror.  

IMG_20160601_194702On the other side I saw the wall which made me scared. I still remember walls from Berlin. It is in my memory how people feel imprisoned by walls and fences. GDR (the communist German state) is only 27 years back.  I remember well the talks with my friends there and their feelings when missing liberty.
Even the Israeli soldiers and omnipresent checkpoints scared me. Maybe it is my personal problem,  I was educated in a non violent way and never used weapons, never became a soldier.

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Terror shows it’s traces everywhere. In Nablus old city I came accidentally to talk with a kind woman hanging laundry in an small yard. She invited me for a coffee and told me about her sons. The first got heavily hurt by a rocket attack and became blind. Then her second son committed a suicide attack. Her house was blasted with dynamited.
Violence gives birth to new violence. When will that end?

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Here I’m sitting with a 12 years old girl, one year younger than my son. She was actually in jail for 10 weeks as a suspect of terror. Daily Telegraph Zeit-Online
She was traumatized without a chance for psychological support.

IMG_20160530_123402This Jenin woman’s son, a journalist, was shot by Israeli soldier. She supports now with all her power social projects  In the sense of her son.

Settlers
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A Palestinian farmer in Nabi Saleh told me about his problems. Half of his lands were confiscated to build an Israeli settlement. He refused the compensation saying it remains his lands he needs for life and he’s waiting to get it back. He is angry because the settlers occupied their good water sources and used it for their gardens, trees, swimming pools. For he farmers remains only very few water – they must buy it now from the settlers for a high amount. On the right photo you see the Israeli settlement on the right of the street.
Thorah says in Deuteronomy 20:19 „When you shall besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them; for you may eat of them. You shall not cut them down, for is the tree of the field man, that it should be besieged by you?“. The oil trees on the left side of the street were cut by the settlers and the farmers are not allowed to take care of them. They expect the settlement to be enlarged…

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DSCN0718In Hebron centre (200.000 inhabitants) lives a group of 200 aggressive Israeli settlers above the old market. The street are covered with fences to keep the trash and the stones away the settlers throw down, but most of the merchants gave up. A nephew of the merchant on the photo got blind after the settlers threw down hydrochloric acid.
In Hebron Baruch Goldstein is still present in all minds, an Israeli  who opened fire on Muslims at prayer in the Ibrahimi Mosque, killing 29, and wounding 125.

Political assessment

I am convinced that the main problem of the Middle East is the formation of national states in the last century in a region where before the „nationalities“ lived beside each other for more then 2.000 years. The sickness of national states (in Europe we try to create a post-national system of regions and cultures) produced blood sweat and tears  like before in Europe with ostracism, displacement, segregation, violence and hate. It even gave birth to the unholy combination of nationalism and religious fundamentalism.

The so called „Jewish State“ does not show the face of Judaism with wisdom, tolerance and liberalism. It became in many aspects a burlesque of orthodox fundamentalism, could be ridiculous sometimes if it were not so dangerous, intolerant, racist and violent.

The combination of nationalism and religion never brought and never bears a system with a human face.

The danger is rising because in the neighborhood new national states will rise after the collapse of Iraq and Syria.

Especially Israel and Palestine need each other for a human future. I see the only chance in a confederation and in a new system of cultures and regions.

The Middle East is the maternity room of our Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions, the source of our cultures inhabited by (mostly) wonderful people. It is still worth to dream of more paradise there. It needs peace.

The alternative is cruel: desperate hopelessness will explode in violence. Violence gives birth to new violence which will give birth to new….

NO, that’s not NEW