Mosaic of Peace Reflection – Day 4
by Ann Johnston
Today we went to Ramallah and to Rawabi and then finished the day in Efraim at the taybeh brewery.
In Ramallah we went to the Retja center to hear several speakers. First we heard from Sam Bahour. Sam described his life transition from Youngstown Ohio to Ramallah. He described the arbitrary and capricious rules set for certain Palestinians to pass from one area of Israel to another- rules meant to hassle, discourage and harm progress of Palestine. He described residency (versus citizenship) which can be changed without cause leading to very serious impediment. It was easy to love Sam. Would be great to support growth of businesses in Ramallah.
Then we heard from Gerrard Horton and Salwa Duaibis of Military Court Watch. They told of the arbitrary arrests of children in areas near Jewish settlements. The arrests are conducted in the middle of the night- when army soldiers burst into homes, take children (13 to 17 year olds), bind them and blindfold them and then interrogate them. There is significant psychological trauma resulting from these arrests – which soldiers hope will deter future stone throwing. Also, the interrogations are used to raise suspicions of who among the community is collaborating with the Israelis. We talked a bit about what we can do as Americans to stop these practices which are funded by US government. We talked about targeting representatives that accept AIPAC.
We had a great lunch provided by the Center.
We then drove to Rawabi, a developing model Palestinian town. Our guides were very proud of the community which had many positive attributes and a beautiful mosque and huge Roman theater and a clinic, nice recreational areas. The plan is to continue to grow the town into a city. Across the valley is a illegal Jewish settlement – further calling out the need for Rawabi to grow and be strong.
We went to have a beer tasting at brewery run by family. Beer was good! They also make efforts to support the locals by selling or distributing their goods. Family from Boston!