(This is Gill first blog since getting back to Ramallah from Hastings).
O what a lucky me, I think, to be back in Ramallah!
At the Jordanian Israeli border I didn’t think I was going to get back to the West Bank, such was the rigorous interview I had. At passport control, after at least 5 mins at the regular kiosk with a queue backing up behind me, I was taken to the ‘questioning’ room. Here, I know that the female officer was googling my name as she was asking awkward me questions like ‘What are you actually going to do’?. My response was to offer my proposed itinerary in Israel and the ‘Lonely Planet Guide to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories’ for examination, asking her if there was a problem, but she did not even give it a glance. I think what saved me was having Gillian Knight as my passport name and not Gill, so nothing activist showed up. I eventually got the 3 month visa stamp and had to stop myself from whopping with glee out of Border Control!
The first pic in Ramallah I took is a fragment from a wall dedicated to the wonderful poet Mahmoud Darwish. I clumsily interpret this verse as depicting our human connection to the earth’s life force emanating from the land itself, a land without borders. Borders are imaginary lines after all, purely dependent on the demarcation of a dominant political power.
For an explanation of the geopolitical paradigm of the Middle East please read ‘ A Line in the Sand’ by James Barr, an account of the colonial powers of France and England from WW1 onwards carving up the region that still resonates today. Easier still is to refer to John Lennon’s song Imagine…. “there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do” …….well what a challenge, what we imagine is easy, to achieve it so hard.
Obama been and gone!
Ramallah – life goes on; the market bustling! shoppers shopping!; where only last week USA flags were being burnt as, at the same time, shoes were being hoisted to replace flags in Bethlehem. What Obama didn’t see was the 31 children, 20 of them minors, being violently arrested in Hebron (B’tselem report) on their way to school or the demonstrators for hunger striker Issawi being tear gassed outside Ofer prison or many other facts on the ground.
Ignore the PR stunt, the political key to the visit seems to be the phone call he brokered between Netanyahu and Turkey to bring about an essential alliance to a concerted front with (the US) against Iran.
A Personal View
As a city,Ramallah can be viewed as “work-in-progress”, or a building site, if you want to be more graphic – blocks of creamy cement going up on the hills everywhere.
My temporary abode is in one of these modern blocks, 15 mins walk from the city centre. From my kitchen window my view is of the countryside merging with the suburbs and I watch a shepherd with his flock grazing for a few minutes before moving on. Relishing the quiet, I make plans to move on to connect, once again, to these beleaguered but resolute people – the Palestinians – Palestine forever!