Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Breaking stuff... because!
posted by: username at 4:41 PM
I went out today to the villages of Al Khas and No'man, east of Bethlehem, to show someone an olive tree field that was planted along the path of the wall, adjacent to the fencing and dirt road Israel carved out of the countryside in preparation for the completion of the wall. We were showing a visiting partner two fields we planted in March, when internationals and Palestinians joined together to plant olive trees where the farmer's land was under threat. On that day, school children from Beit Sahour had taken the day off from school to come out and help us plant, and internationals turned out in high numbers to support these villages where more than 120 trees have been uprooted by Israeli forces.

We came to these fields today because we heard the soldiers had visited them just two days ago. After getting ourselves lost in the weaving streets, running across a lone Israeli jeep that was roaming around in the village, we came out on a hill overlooking the largest of the two fields we planted that day. I almost didn't recognize the field, as the growth around the trees has sprung up to my waist in the month and half since we were last here. We climbed down and wove our way through the thick greenery, lush from the rainy season, where we found the remains of the plaques.

When the field was planted, two plaques were placed on the field in gratitude to the donors who covered the cost of the trees and irrigation systems. This is standard practice for the fields we plant and there are fields all over the West Bank with plaques displaying thousands of donor names. This field, though, was special. Twenty-three of these trees were planted in honor of Rachel Corrie, the ISM activist killed in Gaza who should be well known to everyone reading this blog. A plaque was prepared in Arabic, Hebrew and English to honor Rachel's sacrifice in Gaza. It read: "Rachel's Grove. In memory of Rachel Corrie. Defender of Peace and Justice."

We found the plaques today, Rachel's and one other, smashed into several pieces against the rocks used to prop them up in the field. A local Palestinian informed us that two days ago soldiers stopped on the road above the field and stood looking down at it before two of them climbed down, broke the plaques and left. I can only imagine boredom and indifference led them to such a small act of vandalism.

Soldiers broke Rachel's plaque against the stones

While major human and civil rights abuses plague Israel's occupation, and political maneuvering by Israel is constantly destablizing peaceful initiatives, the often ignored absurdity of occupation as a means of pacification is a perpetual current running against peace. Twenty-year-olds, given guns, time, power, open mandates, a lot of boredom, and a society without respect for the population it occupies, are always going to fall into harassment of the people they control. This harassment, experienced daily by Palestinians for years on end, ranges from simple vandalism like I saw today to the disruption of family life and access to work.

And this daily control and manipulation is excercised at the whim of those two soldiers who were bored enough to climb down the hill, pick up the plaques and throw them against the rocks.
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1:57 PM  

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