Friday, January 20, 2006

Between Shilo & Turmos Ayya

Who Can Go Where:

As a Palestinian, I dare not cross the valley that both belongs to and is forbidden to be entered by us, for which the Shilo city "controls." I know this as a fact, since many have suffered by going there. I also know many who own lands there and cannot harvest crops in it......What a loss.

Dear 'Resident of Turmos Ayya',

I hear the issue of the road blocks. If only they had been more effective twenty nine people wouldn't be hospitalized tonight.

Yes the issues are difficult, but somewhere you and I have to be some kind of starting point upon which we agree ... from there we can disagree and even agree-to-disagree, but otherwise this is not a dialog but "the conversation of the deaf", two monologs that don't listen to one another. Where shall we start?

Do you know the Tel in Turmos Ayya is probably twenty-five hundred years old? You know the elevated section with all the older buildings from before 1948 - essentially the original village before it started expanding into the lower lands around. I'm facinated by archeology and would love to explore that part of your village, but it would be safer to run zig-zag in the middle of a busy street. A Jew cannot just walk in Arab controlled land as Vadim Norzhich and Yosef Avrahami learned when they mistakenly entered Ramallah on October 12th, 2001. Yet I see Arabs from both 'East Jerusalem' and the villages surrounding Jerusalem shopping in the stores in every neighbourhood in Jerusalem. Why is that?

Arabs from Turmos Ayya are not welcome in the areas inside the communities of Shilo nor their surrounding areas. Since the 28th of September 2000 we are at war. It is an ugly war where Arabs try to kill as many Jewish civilians, especially women and children as possible. As a result the Jews of Shilo, like many other communities, have seen fit to minimize the potentially hostile Arabs from entering, working or even visiting their communities. It wasn't always like that. The Jews who lived here until the first Intafada in 1987, not only shopped in the surrounding villages, and hired their nreighbours to help build and plant, but more than once the participated in family celebrations, and invited their Arab neighbours to join them in theirs.

Shilo Valley Looking NorthI won't pretend to get involved into the details of land claims and counter claims. I'm certain there are mistakes made and I am certain that to some extent the disputes are as much political as they are legal. None-the-less I must say that one of my favourite photographs of the Shilo Valley (Emek Shilo in Hebrew since Biblical Times 1295 years before the common era) shows the wide fertile valley as it looks at the end of the winter, during the spring plowing and planting. Yes, from the road on, toward the Industrial Area and neighbourhoods of Shilo, Arabs are definitely not welcomed. But right up to the three metre wide road, the residents of Turmos Ayya, and the Beduin they hire to work their fieds, plow and seed and harvest without impedment.

So yes the situation is not easy. Why are we at war? Why do we have to protect ourselves from vicious attacks on our women and children? Lets try to find a root for the strife we are both suffering from and see where we can go from there!

Your Neighbour,
Yoel Ben-Avraham
Shilo, Benyamin

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sarah said...

Amazing! Is this for real? Is your correspondent really interested in the Jewish neighbors? Hey, if you two can forge a path, maybe we can all start blogging back and forth, 4th graders in Nablus writing to 4th graders in Afula? Moms like me writing to Moms in Ramallah? If enough of us started talking to each other, maybe we could lower the fear and hostility levels around here? Way to go, guys!

Dr. Dean said...

If i am allowed to make a comment: As man from germany I think that the important safety for the people in israel is not just a matter of road blocks.

It's also a matter of peace and human rights.

I suppose there will not be a situation with perfect safety in the next ten years. The palestinian society is destructed and (maybe as a result) partly destructive. The situation seems to be complicated, but there is no reason to be hopeless, i think. I am sure that the safety situation will improve step by step after achieving peace.

Hey, after the coming elections there will be a new historical situation.

I wish good luck to both of you and to your friends.