Sunday, January 22, 2006

On Bombs, Checkpoints and Ancient Houses

Dear Resident of Turmos Ayya;

As like most of you, I was shocked Thursday evening upon hearing what had occurred in Tel-aviv, another suicide bombing. Days away from our elections, something this bad was waiting to happen, only to make it harder for voting and proceeding with the campaigns.
Please reread this passage from your last message.

Although I'd like to believe otherwise, the simple reading of your words is that the distressing aspect of the suicide bomber attack was the possible negative effects on the elections. This kind of apparent "insensitivity" creates the feeling that Arabs are heartless and cruel. What do you think? Was it a simple slip of the pen (as you are writing as a non-English speaker) or is there something deeper culturally as to which aspect of this tragedy is predominate in your mind?

Although in an earlier statement of 'checkpoints', I did not mean they shouldn't be enforced, rather I questioned why only we the Palestinians had the trouble of going through them, for every nation has the right to hold any sort of security run-throughs in order to ensure their own safety.
I definitely agree with you. In fact many of the suicide-bombers succeeded in entering Israel in order to commit their vile acts by being transported in vans or taxi's sporting yellow (Israeli) licenses. I too agree that these vehicles should be checked, no less than non-Israeli vehicles.

I will mention though, that when you travel from Canada to the United States, there are separate lanes for non-Americans or non-Canadians when you enter each respective country, and separate lanes for citizens of each country. In short, this is not necessarily a discriminatory act.
My Shilo friend noted earlier abut the Tel here in Turmos-Ayya. Well, it consists of many old houses, dating back (written on stone blocks) to the early 1900's and of course earlier. ... Although very old and partially ruined, I still see and think of it as a beautiful part of our city which we can remember our past relatives and how they lived. In fact, my father and his fathers once live in these old stone houses, early in the 1950's. What's amazing is that till this day, many of these houses are lived in, and used by the 'poor' residents.
I have a couple of questions for you ... straight forward, no tricks. A sincere attempt to try and understand what happened here in our valley over the past fifty years:
  1. When did Turmos Ayya start building outside the "Tel" area?
  2. When did you finally receive electricity and piped water?
  3. Where do you send your children to school?
  4. How many mosques are there in your village?
  5. Do you have an infirmary or health clinic in Turmos Ayya?
  6. When you go to larger urban centers to shop etc where do you go? Nabulus? Ramallah? Some place else?
Looking forward to your reply,
Yoel Iben-Ibrahim
Shilo, Benyamin


Anonymous said...

Hi -

I love what you are doing.

Maybe you can call the "Resident of Turmos Ayya" "Habib" to make it sound more friendly. (I think Habib is friend in Arabic) Would that be ok?

Maybe he could start his emails "Dear Yoel" - then we could know at the start who is writing.

But keep on writing, please.

Ora said...

Another question: last night, Arabs standing by the Sinjil junction threw rocks at passing cars.

What is the general response to such acts? From town leaders? parents? teachers?

Yoel.Ben-Avraham said...

I don't know. There is something about the fact that my correspondent in Turmos Ayya can NOT reveal his identity that says something about Palestinian society that is stronger than words! Any subterfuge of creating fake names to make the feeling less jarring would be ignoring reality and pretending things are not what they are.

As for prefacing each post with Dear X or Dear Y ... no problem there. I've been doing that anway!

Thanks for your comments and encouragement.

Yael DiPlacido said...

Dear Dialoguers,

Blessings on your mutual journey… I found that in the reality of Israelis and Palestinians hearing and seeing the other side is often an impossible task, so congratulations for even trying!

Yoel, you have visited my blog (conflicttripjournal) and invited me to read yours. I thank you for the invitation, and hope you would not take offense if I take this invitation as an opportunity to tell you about my experiences as a Jew (but not self hating) and as an Israeli (I admit, a leftie) and as an American (and thus clueless.)

In the month my friend Kim and I spent traveling between Israel and the West Bank I interviewed and conversed with many Palestinians and Israelis, and was exposed in the process to an intricate net of histories, sentiments, beliefs, misconceptions, lies, violations, impossible friendships, hopes, and efforts.

I stopped writing in my blog shortly after I started, because there was no time to process or write. Now, from my cushy American corner, I can start thinking about everything….and even though I do not know you or your Palestinian friend (hope it is o.k. to imply that the two of you are friends now)…I think it would be helpful to me if the three of us could join in a sort of “triloug” (a dialogue for three).

Yoel, you wrote:

“Every single simple mundane activity is a kind of realization of the aspirations of the entire Jewish People and in that context the fulfillment of G-d's prophecies as written in the Bible. We're home.”

I could strongly identify with this statement. Even though I was brought up in a secular home, this was the spirit in which I was raised.
Nevertheless, during my last visit home, I found that the reality of which I was convinced was not exactly what it seemed to be. I saw Jews, in their treatment of the Palestinian People, doing things that made me ashamed and concerned for the soul of our country.

I will write more if you are interested.

In any case, I thank you for your blog and hope you will continue.


Akiva said...


Oh to live in a peaceful world. But we do not, and the Torah speaks of war, defense, offense, even spoils.

Would you be concerned for the soul of your city if you knew the job some of the policemen did, filthy, unpleasant, mean, to keep the city stable?

Do you believe in Israel the trash men and women are also Jews? So's the auto mechanic, the street cleaner, the sewer repairman.

For the American, that's often a shock because the Jews in America tend to be further up the professional chain.

It's called being a Nation, and it's different from being a minority.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

I almost got hit by a rock near Tumus Ayya the other day. Rather nasty.

Tell me - is there any hope that road 60 will be opened for traffic again so we can drive through the A-ram junction, past Atarot, to road 443 anymore?

What a time waster.

Yael DiPlacido said...


I am an Israeli. I was raised in Israel, studied there, served the Israeli Army, and got married there... I know exactly who is doing the so called “dirty work.” …and believe you me – the majority of the jobs you mentioned are offered to foreign workers from the Philippines, Romania, and etc. Some work still falls into the hands of immigrants from Russia (Jews and non-Jews)but not as much as in the 1990’s. Arabs, both Palestinians and Israeli in nationality, have been doing construction work and building our houses and our infrastructure for many years…
So what do you call IT now?

Freedomnow said...

What a brave and noble blog. One common enemy that you both share are terrorists.

No Jew is safe in Muslim land. Terrorists target all Jews for liquidation, women, men, children, the aged, etc...

and they also target "collaborators", who could turn out to be nothing more than a victim of a personal vendetta because "collaborators" are quite often executed without a fair trial.

I hope that you are both safe and can one day find peace together...

A-K Roth said...


I was hoping to hear from the resident of Turmos Ayya by now. This blogg is an interesting and innovative try at dialogue. I was hoping to hear that the Turmos Ayya-resident made a mistake in omitting the usual sentiments surrounding a terror attack, that it was an unintentional omission.

When the bomb went off i Amman, Jordan, one would have hoped that everybody could see how terror devastates and corrupts all involved, victims and perpetrators both. We can be concerned about the situation for both palestinians and israelis. Hope the dialogue continues.


A-K Roth

Yoel.Ben-Avraham said...

Yael Shalom,

You wrote "I found that the reality of which I was convinced was not exactly what it seemed to be". I understand to some extent of what you speak.

My response is probably not what you would respond, but I am in favour of letting the Palestinians "run their own show" and a big part of that should be keeping the economic ties between Israel and the Pal's limited to the purchase and sale of products - not labour. Build the fence and let them create their little utopia if they can. Anything else on our part is condesending and destined to failure.

On the other side - if we are really talking about co-existence - if it is proper, moral and ethical to host 1.75 million Arabs inside of Israel then why can't 250,000 Jews live within the boundaries of Palestinian control?

In this sense I've always called the settlements the "Trip Wire" of peace. If settlements cannot exist and "Palestine" must be Juden Rein then this is 'piece' rather than 'peace' (i.e. co-existence).

Anonymous said...

Dear R.O.T.A.

We hope you are well and that you haven't given up on sharing this blog.

We look forward to hearing from you.

If you are too busy to write, please just drop a note saying you are safe.

Gingit said...

Dear Yoel, dear TAR,
I very much hope the two of you continue the dialog, davka...
Best wishes for both of you!

Anonymous said...

Turmos Ayya is a nice place to live in. It is a shame to see settlers tarnish such a town.

People used to talk about freedom ; But these days they will be lucky if they talk about living.