I travelled to Palestine-Israel and discovered there is no Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.

My thoughts on the following Huffington Post article:

I travelled to Palestine-Israel and discovered there is no Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.

I came across this article on the Huffington Post website last week. It was shared by a group I follow on Facebook called Palestine Festival of Literature. PalFest often post insightful articles and comment pieces about political, social and cultural life in Palestine. I highly recommend following them if you are interested in hearing about the other side of Palestine, the unreported side.

I decided to share this article on my blog because it really struck a nerve with me. Since returning from the West Bank over a year ago, I have found it difficult to sum up my view on the political situation in the region. The following paragraph is an excerpt from the article. It was written by American journalist Ferrari Sheppard after his visit to the West Bank:

“Before I go further, I must put to rest a misnomer. Contrary to what’s been reported in the news for years, there is no Israeli Palestinian conflict. None, zero, zilch, diddly-squat. I can say with confidence that Palestinians have no agency. The Israeli government controls everything in the country. This total control which is most magnified in the West Bank, concerns everything from where Palestinians are permitted to travel, to how much water they consume per month. Currently, there is no ‘conflict,’ only the omnipresent power of the Israeli government and those who resist it. This is important to understand.”

I remember the first thing I was told when I arrived in Palestine was that there was no Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. At the time I wasn’t sure what this meant. Before I left the UK I had heard of suicide bombers, the IDF, Hamas, Gaza, Occupation, Intifada. I associated these concepts with conflict and war, but I was wrong.

War is a state of armed conflict between different countries or different groups within a country. There is no armed conflict in Israel-Palestine. Back then I saw two sides fighting each other. Now I see Israel oppressing and I see the Palestinians who resist.

“Perhaps it would be easier for me to believe the story of Palestinians falling from the clouds, or crossing into Palestine from Jordan shortly before the creation of Israel — that is, if my perception were formed by mainstream western media. In the years prior to the events of 9/11, including the initial months of the Second Intifada, media outlets such as Fox, CNN, and BBC, unfolded one dimensional narratives which included bloodthirsty Palestinians blowing themselves up in public places, killing innocent people. Never did they examine the societal constraints and conditions which might drive people to commit such atrocities.”

In order for colonialism and occupation to be successful, previous inhabitants of a region must be dehumanized, labeled savages, and finally, their very existence denied. Once this paradigm has been established, any and all acts of horror can be inflicted upon them without recourse. Thus, the stories of the oppressed become irrelevant.”

Above is the second most important point that Ferrari Shepard makes. Particularly the last few sentences. It is particularly relevant due to recent events in Israel-Palestine which have led to a huge increase in violence and fear in the West Bank.

I was devastated to hear about the three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped near Gush Etzion, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, on the 12th June. Three young innocent boys. I was devastated for their families.I thought about their mothers and their terrible despair.

But I also felt despair for what would happen next. Along with all Palestinians and supporters of Palestine I felt increasing dread. Our worst fear was that something like this would happen and our fear was rightly perceived.

The Israeli manhunt has been overwhelming. The crackdown has left five Palestinians dead, including a 15 year old boy who was shot through the heart. Hundreds of Palestinians have been arrested, most without trial. The city of Hebron has been placed under completete lockdown.

As imagined, the media response in Israel has been huge. 24 rolling news reports, banner and posters show the boy’s young faces everywhere. However, in the UK the media response has been non-existent. I had heard nothing about the kidnapping or the crackdown on mainstream news channels until this morning. But today the Guardian newspaper questions,

“How much of the search operation has been about finding the boys and how much of it has been directed at trying – not for the first time – to smash Hamas on the West Bank, whom Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, holds responsible?”

Reading this article was a sigh of relief for me. Yes it’s the Guardian, the UK’s most liberal newspaper. But the newspapers’ online site is the third most widely read in the world. It is asking the right questions.


The Pope in Palestine + graffiti in Bethlehem



(Photo credit AP Photo/Osservatore Romano via The Nation.com)

I watched the news with fascination during the Pope’s three day visit to Palestine on the 25th – 27th May 2014. This image is the one that stands out from his trip to the Holy land. I’m glad that he saw the other side of Bethlehem, away from Manger Square.

The graffiti on the Separation Wall in and around Bethlehem is fantastic. From an artistic perspective it is visually compelling. Similarly to the Berlin Wall, it is used as a canvas to call for freedom, equality and justice. Here are some photos that I took of graffiti on the wall during my visit to Palestine:


Tent of Nations Farm

Tent of Nations

Agricultural land in large areas of the West Bank is under threat from confiscation if it is not regularly cultivated, which is not always possible due to a lack of permits or permanent labour force and severe access restrictions.

Tent of Nations is a working farm in the South West hills of Bethlehem growing olives, grape vines, almonds, vegetables and fruit. However, it is under constant threat from the expansion of the three large Israeli settlements that surround it. To try and stop the farm land being annexed by the Israeli military & the settler communities,  the farm has opened its doors to the public.

Tent of Nations’ message is to ‘build bridges between people, and between people and their land.’ To do this, it welcomes local children, school groups and international volunteers to come and help work on the farm. Doing so helps to keep the land productive, educates the visitors & shows a demonstration of solidarity to the owners, residents of nearby Bethlehem and the people of Palestine.

Find out more at: http://www.tentofnations.org/about/