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Walking on Eggshells in the West Bank
It has been a frustrating month living on the ground in Palestine, while you hear the whole world talk about your location. Something strange has happened lately and all of sudden all eyes are on Palestine. I am not sure if is good or bad, because when we say Palestine, it is currently not recognized by the United States of America. So when my friends want to send me a Christmas card from Boston to Ramallah, well I hope to get it by Easter ,since America only recognizes the Palestinian Authority and the post office has no idea that I live in only 22 percent of historic Palestine, what is now called in modern terms the West Bank.
Something extremely historic is about to happen and I cannot sleep all night. On Friday, Sept 23rd at the United Nations Building, the President of Palestine will appeal for Palestine to be recognized as the 194th member state of the United Nations. Not sure since I have already seen Palestine is a living hell, what worse thing can happen. The Israeli settlers on the Palestinian Occupied Territories have gone crazy this week burning several Palestinian cars in the Nablus area and stoning people on their way home with the army trying to make peaceful protests turn into violent once by shooting. It is a crazy life living among Jews and Muslims when you simply want to be a peaceful follower of Christ.
I had to take a trip to the printers today and I thought it’s like walking on eggshells not knowing what to do. Will my area stay peaceful and calm so I can print my long overdue Oktoberfest schedule? What shall I say to some Israeli friends who wish to see such a strange event like Oktoberfest in Palestine but their government forbids them to travel to Palestinian villages? How can I avoid the strict fundamental Islamic women who I wish I can invite to my Christian village where beer is served like water but their holy Koran forbids them to drink such a beverage?
I’m going crazy not knowing what might happen tomorrow. And simply my whole world here is filled with not knowing what happens day to day while trying to remain a productive human being and contribute to the community. It is almost like the political, social and economic situation just beat down on your spirit daily not to even mention the family domestic battles.
I am in the worst position ever since I am advertising an alcoholic beverage among 98 percent Muslim population in the West Bank. As I walked down the streets of Ramallah to pass out my promotional little cards about the Taybeh Oktoberfest, there was hardly anyone to hand an invitation. I clearly remember sixteen years ago, so many women walked to work without a head cover so I would see at least nine other females that look like me in western clothes.
Well, this week, I had to look really hard to find even one woman that had western clothing and not covered from head to toe. Some women I literally could not even see their eyes from the heavy head covering. Palestine has changed!
Going to East Jerusalem which has been predominately a Palestinian majority was the saddest day of my life. Small businesses that I use to deliver invitations too simply shut down and new Israeli Jewish owners have taken over their locations. I could not believe my eyes how fast in the last few years Palestinians have been squeezed out of Jerusalem.
Actually, whether the United Nations recognizes Palestine as a country will not change much for us on the ground who suffer day-to-day under strict Israeli occupation. And the half million illegal Israel settlers who live in East Jerusalem and the West Bank already take up more than the 50% of this little 22% that the president of Palestine is making an appeal to be recognized for independence . While we are struggling to maintain our presence here, it’s not easy with the water being shut off twelve straight days in a row while you know the illegal Israeli settlements have water twenty four hours a day and seven days a week. It’s heartbreaking when parishioners of St. George Church could not get permits to celebrate the holy days for the Mother of God in Jerusalem in August but illegal Israeli settlers move around and use bypass roads to get into and out of Jerusalem as often as they wish.
MARIA C. KHOURY serves as the festival coordinator for the Taybeh Oktoberfest.