Today I cried. I am not one that openly cries and I am especially not someone to admit that I cried publicly. Maybe it is the exhaustion of waking up before 6 am everyday or it could be the side effects of the terrible stomach bug that has been rampaging through our group. But no I don't believe that is it, those are just petty excuses. Today I cried because I witnessed something that tore my heart open. Walking along the separation wall between Palestine and Israel is an agonizing experience. I have seen pictures on the internet and have even done projects about it in school. I thought I was mentally and emotionally prepared to experience the wall in person. But boy was I wrong. Those pictures you see on the internet do not do it justice one bit. The pictures are all so one dimensional, you see the wall, see the graffiti and think to yourself, “ wow that’s terrible” and then go back to your daily life, instantly forgetting what you saw. When you look at the pictures you don't see the whole story.
First off there is the sheer size of the thing, it is massive and zig zags throughout Palestinian land (mind you that this is Israel’s wall yet it is built exclusively on land that belongs to the Palestinians). There are outlook posts every 100 ft with IDF soldiers menacingly looking down on you. But that isn't even the worst of it.
When you are walking along the wall you get to a point where you see a house, a house that is surrounded on all three sides by this intimidating structure. This house used to be right on the main road of Bethlehem but that road is now a dead end because of the occupation wall. When looking at pictures of the wall on the internet you don’t see the struggle this wall brings to the people of Palestine. How it basically traps them in what is the world's largest open air prison. In one swift move the IDF can cut off all the roads leading to and from Bethlehem, making it nearly impossible for those people to go to work or school outside of the city. You may see some pictures of the graffiti but only a select few. You don’t see the scribble near the bottom of the wall that says “made in the USA” nor the one that says “from the cradle to the grave.”
But the most important thing you don't see when looking at pictures of the wall is hope. The hope that one day there will be a Palestinian state. Hope that one day Palestine and Israel can peacefully coexist next to each other. On the internet you don’t see the local Palestinians always smiling and laughing. You don’t hear the locals sarcastically making jokes that maybe Trump will be the one to fix this problem (haha). You don’t see the sign on the wall that says “Wall Street” or the graffiti that says “Space invaders against borders.”
Hope and love are the most powerful tools the Palestinians have to fight against the occupying Israeli force. And that is what brought me to tears. The fact that even after all of terrible things that have happened to the poor people of Palestine they still remain so vigilant and hopeful. That in the end, after all of this struggle, they still have the hope they will finally be able to have a place they can truly call home.
Peace and Love,