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Sunday, May 21, 2006

report from the West Bank

I've been seeing lots of sights and to tell you the truth, I'm burning out on sightseeing, but yesterday I visited my friend Leeanne and her family in Beit Arye on the West Bank. They started building their house 21 years ago and have been living there for 17 years, now with garden, fruit trees, all built on soil they brought in. The settlement was bare stony desert ground on which nobody lived, in other words, no one was displaced by the development there. Driving there we saw Arab vilages, Beduin encampments, an American Army base and as we ascended the hills, the sea on the horizon in the afternoon lights. The Israeli and Arab villages nestled each on their own hillsides. But here, see for yourself:


In case your browser (in particular you Mac users) won't run this video, here's the script:

Hi, this is Ellen Sander on the West Bank. That was is my friend Leeanne in the Israeli settlement of Beit Arye (pronounced: bet are yay), where she lives and this, on the next hillside is Luban, an Arab village. You see how close they are. The town councils meet on a regular basis here and have an essentially friendly relationship. Men from Luban come and work in Beit Arye and women shop in the grocery store. A small area of peace in the disputed territory. And I want to tell you that it wasn't that hard to find.

Leeanne told me this story as she was showing me around. Last summer some mischevious teenage boys (her word for them was morons) from Beit Arye went over to Luban to that mosque tower that you see and set off firecrackers. The Arab police found them, gave them a good scare and then called the Beit Arye town police to come get them before they got themselves killed.

Until recently she'd been going to another Arab village to buy olive oil, but that town was not as friendly as Luban, or more precisely, their government was under more pressure from Palestinian authorities, so the road was blocked with a pile of stones so no car could get through. You could get through with a Jeep if you wanted to but the message was clear and everyone observed it.

Leanne said she didn't like the word "settlement" to refer to Israeli developments in the disputed territories. To her it sounded like remote primitive outposts. These are much like middle-class American suburbs with single family homes, each community with its own infrastructure, school and local commerce. The roads are good.

I told her that to me, at least, what it signified was a recently built area of multiple homes. But how it came to be called "settlements" in Engish is that the translation of the Hebrew word for this kind of community in the disputed territories, yishuv, is "setted area" and thats how the term got Anglicanized.

Of all the sights I've seen, this one was the most moving, the most significant and the one I'll remember the most profoundly. Other than that thousand year old olive tree in the previous post--I've seen many of them since, some may be as old as 3000 years.

// posted by Ellen @  09:24   //Permalink// 
Ellen says hey
Mainer, New Yawka, Beijinger, Californian, points between. News, views and ballyhoos that piqued my interest and caused me to sigh, cry, chuckle, groan or throw something.

Previous Posts

Thousand Year Old Olive Tree
Shabat Shalom May 19
Jerusalem: From the Great Wall to the Wailing Wall
Happy Mother's Day
Promised Pictures from the Promised Land I
Day 2 in Tel Aviv
Shabbat Shalom from Tel Aviv
Moving through heart and soul
From New York 2
From New York

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