Tag Archives: nabi saleh

OCHA is a Truth Teller

This is the last in a series of blog posts sharing the stories of Palestinians who are living under occupation in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. OCHA compiled 50 stories which can all be found here.

I divided them and shared five stories at a time because I hoped more Americans would take the time to read them if they were highlighted in smaller doses. (And honestly, I wanted to read each story more closely which this resharing allowed me to do.)

Congress and President Trump have been threatening to reduce funding to the United Nations in recent weeks because they claim the UN is biased against Israel. Telling the truth may not win popularity contests, but the work and the words of the UN need to continue.  These stories published by OCHA are the truth.

I suppose the most revolutionary act one can engage in is … to tell the truth.

HOWARD ZINN, Marx in Soho



THE Tarkyaki Family from EAST JERUSALEM (Photos by JC-Tordai, 2010)


The family home of Amjad and Asma’ Taryaki and their three children was demolished in 2009.

Shortly after, Amjad told us: ❝On 12 October 2009, at 7:30 in the morning, while my wife was taking the children to school and I was still sleeping, the Border Police woke me up and ordered me to get out.

❝When my wife came back and saw all the police and the bulldozer she knew what was happening.

❝The police wouldn’t let her enter the yard and she started panicking, thinking that I was sleeping while our house was being demolished.

❝She knew that the pills I take for my heart condition make me fall into a very deep sleep. She tried to call me but the police had confiscated my mobile phone…

❝[W]e had an emotional breakdown. The hardest thing was to protect our children. The youngest of them, Tasneem, wet her pants while watching the demolition.

❝Our son, when he came back from school, was asking about his chocolate which was buried in the rubble. He is having a very hard time recovering from the shock and I’m afraid he’ll lose this school year…

❝[W]e put up a tent in the yard and spent a month and a half there, but as winter was approaching it got very cold.❞

Amjad added: ❝One night we decided we couldn’t go on like this any longer and took the children to my brother. Since then, we’ve been going from relative to relative, and sometimes we split the family up as we can’t all fit into one house.

❝My wife was suffering from the lack of privacy and, as there were constantly a lot of people around her, she always had to wear her hijab.

❝The rubble from the demolition is still here, but getting a bulldozer to remove it requires a permit, and is very costly. Next to our house there is a little wooden stable where my brother keeps his horse. The police didn’t demolish that. I feel that animals are treated better than human beings.

❝Three months ago, we decided to build a small wooden room on the site where our house was located. We’ve put some mattresses and a little TV there.

❝This Saturday we’ll bring some of the furniture that survived the demolition from my wife’s sister’s house. We’re also building a little bathroom next to the room. Our cooking stove is outside but mostly our families provide us with food.

❝If our new shelter is demolished, we will build it again. We have nowhere else to go and no money to rent anywhere else.❞


Kareem 2


In Febriary 2011, we met Kareem, then an 11-year-old boy, and heard from him about his arrest by the Israeli Police.

I was standing with a group of children near the gas station at the entrance to An Nabi Saleh. An Israeli police vehicle drove by and I threw a stone at it.

❝The vehicle stopped and several special police jumped out, chased us and took me into custody. A woman from our village tried to protect me, but the police shoved her to the ground. 

❝I was taken first to the military tower at the entrance of An Nabi Saleh, where the police forces kicked me in my leg and arm and my hands were bound behind my back with plastic ties.

❝Next, I was taken to Hallamish settlement and then transported to an interrogation centre about 45 minutes from my house, at Geva Binyamin settlement. There, I was taken to an interrogation room.

❝The interrogator asked me if I threw stones and I said ‘yes,’ and I told them why; ‘you arrested my 14-year-old brother in the middle of the night this week and now I have no one to play with. I was angry, so I threw a stone,’

❝Next, they showed me pictures of boys and asked me to identify them. I told them I don’t know these boys; they aren’t from our village.

❝The whole interrogation lasted around 15 minutes, but I spent another two hours waiting after the interrogation until my father came and picked me up. No one from my family was with me during the process.❞




Bir Nabala / Tel al ‘Adassa is a small Bedouin community whose members have lived between Ramallah and Jerusalem for decades, after being displaced from what became Israel and then within the West Bank.

Since the mid-1990s, they have been settled just inside the Israeli-declared municipal boundary of Jerusalem.

Notwithstanding the proximity, since they hold West Bank ID cards, Israel considers their presence within the Jerusalem municipal boundary illegal, unless they obtain special permits.

By 2007, the Israeli authorities completed the construction of a Barrier in the area, with the stated aim of preventing attacks on Israelis. This has left the community on the “Jerusalem” side of the Barrier, physically separated from their service centre of Bir Nabala and the rest of the West Bank, and unable to legally enter East Jerusalem.

We met Amneh, then a 45-year-old member of the community, in 2013. ❝After the Barrier was completed in 2007,❞ she told us, ❝our living conditions deteriorated and our life turned upside down. We were isolated, stuck between two places, Ramallah and Jerusalem, able to go to neither.

❝The separation was difficult on everyone. All the while, we suffered harassment and intimidation from the Israeli authorities to leave our community.❞


Forced displacement of the Tel al ‘Adassa Bedouin community (August 2013)

On top of the access restrictions, the community has also faced multiple incident of demolitions, due to lack of Israeli-issued building permits.

By 2013, all families left and went to live on the ‘West Bank’ side.

The community dispersed into two separate locations. Amneh described the events that led to their departure:

❝We had demolition orders for our structures and fines as well. After finally demolishing all of our structures, the Israelis threatened that if we do not move to the other side of the Barrier in the West Bank, we will be fined huge amounts of money and risk arrest.

❝To be honest, we just are not able to pay any fines. We have no money. I have two sons in the university and I still have not been able to cover their tuition. Any money I have, should go to them first, and not to the Israeli authorities.

❝So we decided to move, in hopes that we will find better living conditions and no longer be faced with the Israeli authorities’ intimidation.❞

❝Is this our destiny?❞ she asked. ❝Is it my fate to live in uncertainty, without even a hope of living in dignity and with respect?




We met Ahmad Jubran Diwan, also known by the name of Abu Al ‘Abed, in 2012, to hear from him – as head of Beit Ijza village council – about the farmers in his community, who own agricultural lands that are isolated following the construction of the Barrier.

❝The Barrier on Beit Ijza lands was erected in 2004, […] buried 340 dunums (85 akres) under its route, and isolated 860 dunums (215 akres) behind it,❞ Ahmad said, adding that the land was planted with many kinds of fruits and vegetables, including olives, grapes, almonds and tomatos.

❝This area was the ‘food basket’ of the region❞, he said, ❝feeding Jerusalem and its suburbs. This is a sample of grapes planted behind the Barrier, where the farmers cannot access. They cannot harvest these crops and they are eaten by boars, animals and birds.

❝Grape, olive and fig trees – the harvest season of which is now – demand daily visits, just like a spoiled baby in his mother’s bossom, who needs to be fed every hour or when she cries. We need to access our land every day, without any hindrance.❞


Muhammad Abdel Aziz from QARYUT | NABLUS

A rough, winding uphill road leads to Palestinian olive grove in a remote and isolated area of Qaryut village, close to Eli settlement.

In this grove, dozens of ancient olive trees were cut down on 9 October 2012.

 Shortly after, we visited Muhammad, on his land, to hear from him on how this affected his family.

❝These trees are centuries old. I inherited them from my father who inherited them from my grandfather. It is the only source of livelihood. We have no more fallow fields to plant with wheat and barley etc. This tree is our sole source of livelihood.

❝A few days before the harvest some days ago, settlers came and, as you can see, cut down the trees; and those behind as well, which are hundreds of years old.

❝It is the settlers who came down from that settlement, close to us, a few hundred metres from here. They cut down no less than 140 trees.

❝Two days after they had cut down the trees, they came and poured gasoline on the trees, and also burned down trees in an area a little further down, nearby.

This naturally affects the farmers, their lives, their livelihoods, as these trees are their only source of subsistence.❞

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Filed under Israel, Occupation, People, United Nations, Video

Playing catch – or not?

Communication is what makes the world go ’round. Everything — the good, bad and the ugly — can be traced back to communication — either good, bad or destructive communication.

I’m flummoxed about why some of my communication on “hot button” topics is so frustrating.

Sign on church fence in Baltimore

#BlackLivesMatter sign on church fence in Baltimore

Two recent examples. In the first, I’m responding to a friend’s objections to my T-shirt with the words #BlackLivesMatter. He finds the message divisive and offensive (his words).

I explain that #BlackLivesMatter is not #OnlyBlackLivesMatter, and certainly not #OthersLivesDon’tMatter but that it raises the real and pervasive racist policies and prejudice against black people engrained in our national psyche.  I think my friend agrees that we need to stimulate a national dialogue about it but he thinks my T-shirt hinders, rather than facilitates, a productive discussion.

“You should be sensitive to how people might react to your #BlackLivesMatter T-shirt,” he tells me. “I don’t care what other people think!” is my retort, and we drop the conversation.

The second example has taken place over many weeks on Facebook with an ardent Zionist about various issues related to Israel and Palestine. He responds to my posts about Israel/Palestine respectfully but never understands the points I raise. Here’s a recent exchange on Facebook about the video above.

Zionist friend: Some might point out the restraint the Israeli soldier displayed allowing himself to be beaten up without fighting back, instead of blaming him for arresting a juvenile rock thrower. It is sad that these soldiers have their hands tied when it comes to their own defense because they know that they’ll be blamed for anything they do to respond.
Lora: George Orwell might have described the soldier’s actions as “restraint” but no one using the English language today would.
Zionist friend: I’m not sure why you think that. We both saw the same video. Getting hit repeatedly on the head seriously hurts. The soldier could’ve easily started swinging wildly in self defense, but he choose to take the blows instead. We should both be able to agree that it took considerable restraint on his part not to respond.

Lora: I saw a soldier running after a Palestinian boy with a cast on his arm…take him down in a choke hold and then get pummeled by the boy’s mother, sister and others. Given the persistent pattern of IDF violence (killings) in the West Bank, I think these women were very lucky there was a video camera capturing the whole thing. The soldier’s “restraint” is directly proportional to the videographer’s determination to keep filming.


Zionist friend: Rocks thrown by a boy with a cast are not any less dangerous. These women knew that they could beat the soldier without serious repercussions because of the insane restrictions and scrutiny placed on the IDF.


Lora: I cannot open your eyes. Goodbye!


Zionist friend: Not sure what part of what I said was incorrect, but I guess I’m getting used to our conversations ending this way. Goodbye.

There’s usually more than one version of the events, and so there is in this case about the Israeli soldier, see here and here.

I’m aware there are different variables at play in each of these examples. The first involves a good friend I’ve known for many years about my age, a white professional, and our conversations occur face-to-face.

The second example involves an anonymous person on Facebook whom I’ve never met but suspect that he’s young, has probably been raised in a Zionist household and has bought that worldview hook, line and sinker.


Now a good conversation is like a good ball game. One person tosses out the ball so the second can catch it and return it. The conversation, as a good game, proceeds smoothly with both participating and enjoying the give and take.

Some communication can be wild games where one throws curve balls which are impossible for the other to catch; or throws the ball over his opponent’s head never intending that the ball be caught; or slams a hard ball into his opponent’s gut. Who wants to play ball under those circumstances? I would just pick up the ball and go home.

My example #1 above resembles a stunted game of toss — but no catch. The conversation is frustrating because I don’t think my partner understands the #BlackLivesMatter message. No matter how I might pitch the ball, he doesn’t catch it.

Instead, he tries to toss another ball back to me — about how others might respond to #BlackLivesMatter — not about whether there is some validity to the assumptions behind the #BlackLivesMatter message. I want to talk about substance (and I pitch that ball) and he wants to talk about process (and tosses back a completely different ball). I suspect my friend may disagree with the substantive issues involved, but it’s too difficult to admit or discuss.

The substance about #BlackLivesMatter that I want to toss to my friend includes:

  • Black Americans are far more likely to be homicide victims than white Americans. See here.
  • Black men are six times more likely to be incarcerated in federal, state and local prisons than white men. See here.
  • The black vs. white economic inequality (income, jobs,unemployment, etc.) is staggering. See here.
  • Homeownership is much more difficult for blacks than it is for whites. See here. And there are many more stats.

My friend either doesn’t acknowledge these statistics, or doesn’t agree with them, or perhaps agrees but doesn’t think the #BlackLivesMatter meme is a constructive way to raise awareness. He doesn’t want to toss my ball back to me, he wants to play with another ball. He’s likely as frustrated as I am when I reject his ball.

What type of ball game is my young Zionist friend playing?

Although he’s respectful and seems genuinely interested in playing ball (contrary to many Zionists I’ve met on Facebook), we aren’t having a very satisfactory game of toss and catch. This is very perplexing for me.

I don’t expect my friend in example #1 or the Zionist in #2 to agree with me.  A good game of catch doesn’t require agreement, but it does require the ability to catch and respond. Neither are catching my ball and responding. They each want to play with a different ball entirely — a way of deflecting the game to their agenda. So I’m left wondering, what can I do differently to have more satisfying and productive conversations?

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Filed under nonviolent resistance, Peaceful, Uncategorized, Video