The Arabic idiom „tomorrow there will be apricots“ is mainly used sarcastically, to doubt that something is going to happen. 69 years and 225 days marks the amount of time between the Palestinian Nakba and the start of my documentations in Palestine in 2017. „Nakba“ means „catastrophe“ and reminds of the 1948 Palestine war, when more than 700.000 Palestinian Arabs were expelled from their homes. Between 400 and 600 Palestinian villages were sacked during this war, while urban Palestine was almost entirely extinguished. Around 80 percent of the Arab inhabitants of what later became the state of Israel left or were expelled from their homes and their land. Approximately 300.000 Palestinians had fled or been expelled prior to the Israeli Declaration of Indepedence in May 1948. Later, a series of laws passed by the first Israeli government prevented them from returning to their homes or claiming their property. They and many of their descendants remain refugees until today, still living in refugee camps inside the West Bank or Gaza and the neighbour countries. In the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba in 2018, this documentary is supposed to reflect the current human, ecologic and politic situation in the West Bank. Until today, Palestinians still experience discrimination in access to education, healthcare, employment, residency, access to natural resources and building rights, as well as expulsions and home demolitions. An UN report published in 2017 approved that Israel is „guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid“, a „crime against humanity under customary international law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court“. Trough photographs combined with interviews of Palestinians which I met all over the West Bank, I want to give a deeper insight in the current situation also trough the voices of the Palestinians themselves. Is there still a room for peace to take place?
Realized in cooperation with the DAAD, the Freedom Theatre Jenin and the Auja Eco Center. Thanks to so many people in Palestine for your support. Going to be published as photobook in 2019, stay tuned!
„I am 25 years old, and I had the possibility to see the mediterranean sea once in my life in the Israeli side. But I wish to swim in the sea in the Palestinian side in Gaza. This is my greatest dream, I hope it will become real soon.“
My name is Mahmud Driaat, I am 25 years old. Me and my family are from Al Auja. A part of my family is living as refugees in Jordan, in one of the biggest Palestinian refugee camps with more than 2000 Palestinians. They emigrated from Palestine trough the second war 1967. Israel does not want development for the future of any Palestinian state. The mission of the Israelis is to keep control over the land and to keep the Palestinians poor as they are. Having no developement, no control over the land and over natural resources. This is the strategy. And it is a strategy to send more and more settlers to the West Bank. What makes me sad regarding this is not what everybody wants, to have our country free. The people themselves, they make me sad. I see thousands of Palestinains everyday from the early morning on going to work in the Israeli settlements. In really deadful conditions, for cheap prices. And they work in their land, in their water, in their air, in their... everything. They own it, but they work for the benefit of others. What makes me interested in politics and our environment, what convinced me to keep studiying and to understand deeper the situation is triying to help one another and trying to push the peace process forward. For the benefit of my people, the Palestinians. There is a room for peace to take place in this land, and this room is still open. So it ́s not only going to the international comitees and to say that we, the Palestinians, are poor, we are occupied. It ́s telling the people that environmentally, humantary, it is not equal. And also to tell the Israelis inside of Israel. To send the important message that the peace process is sticking, and that an obsticle in the peace process are the settlements and the occupation. Nothing else. If there will be no settlements and no occupation in the West Bank, I can guarantee that peace will be in the second day. I would mention, that if you go to the baptism side as a christian, which is so valuable for christians, for muslims, for anybody, because this is the place where Jesus was baptised, you find yourself baptising in polluted sewage water. The lowest stream, the Jordan river, was flowing for 247 km from the Golan Heights to the dead sea, but they destroyed it. Finally they destroy a big eco system which is unique all over the world. The problem starts when the rivers water leaves the lake Galilee all the way down till it reaches the dead sea, which is called „the lower part of the Jordan river“, located in the West Bank. Israel and Jordan are diverting 96 percent of the 1.3 billion cubic meters of the rivers water. The remaining is only 2 to 4 percent of the entire amount. This 2 to 4 percent are not the original rivers water, it is totally sewage. On the upper part in Israel, the river is wide and huge with clean water. The lower part in the West Bank is created by two pumps, just a few meters to the south of the lake Galilee. One of the pumps is bringing sewage water without any advanced treatment from the aquaculture in Bet Sche ́an area. There, they have banks to rise fishes, and after a while the water gets contaminated because of the biological processes. Fish bones, algas and so on, and after a while, they release this dirty water to the lower part of the Jordan river. The other pump is bringing salty water surrounding lake Galilee. So there is almost no drop of the original rivers water, it is just sewage water and salty water owing all the way down to the dead sea. It is highly polluted. This is the creation of the lower part of the Jordan river. Because of the tiny amount of water the dead sea has been shrinked. 1/3 of the total surface area of the dead sea converted to a desert. As a result of all this, sinkholes are affecting the uniqueness of the dead sea. More than 85 percent of the biodiversity that was here, in the Jordan valley, has been lost. Flora and fauna. Nowadays it is not existing anymore, because the habitat is destroyed.
I think the Jordan river should not be treated like this. We are afraid that the dead sea is also sucking from the ground water for example of the eastern aquifer in Jericho. The dead sea is the lowest point, so when the ground water of the dead sea goes down, the ground water level in Jericho will also goes down. So the shrin- king is not only affecting the direct environment, like we see it by the sinkholes, also the ground water in Jericho is affected. I don ́t know what will be the future of this. The Palestinians cannot use the surface water of the Jor- dan river anymore. For agriculture and domestic use, they mainly rely to the water from the ground. But since the Oslo agreement 1994, we have the land devision in the West Bank. That means that digging wells in area C for a Palestinian is impossible. Our only resource of water is controlled by Israel. All the valley used to be a vegetable basket, and the region of Al Auja was the biggest. Almost 30 years ago, the villagers of Al Auja were farming around 24000 columns. Huge land. They were able to export watermelons, vegetables, dates and bananas to Jordan and the Gulf countries. They were relying to the spring water from Al Auja spring. It used to be one of the biggest springs in the eastern side of the country. As a result of the land devision, the Israelis have the right to do activities here in area C. So they dig many wells in Al Auja sucking the water, and nothing remains. The wells abstract around 17 cubicmeter, so it ́s almost the capacity of the spring. Nowadays the spring decreased to 1.2 to 1.8 million cubic meters in the rainy season, but 8 to 9 months in the year it is dried up. The farming land decreased from 24000 columns to only 2000 columns. So agriculture has been changed, and of course, the people have been changed. They used to be the owners of the land, in a higher economical situation. In 1967, many families which used to live at the river banks have been forcly displaced. The former tourism minister of Israel, Rehavam Ze‘evi, was smart enough to declare the whole area as an military zone with the justi cation to secure the borders of Israel, especially to Jordan. But what is hidden, is greater: They use all this area for settlements. the whole area up to the north, until Bet she ́an: In 1967 they took it and filled it with mines, now it has been emptied of mines and they are doing farming there. There are no Pa- lestinians living anymore in the river area, even tough they have documents showing that they are the owners of the land. They used to do farming in their land, using their water, exporting their products. Nowadays, they are converted to be cheap workers for the settlers. The best dates are from this areas, they have a bigger size and are all for exporting to Europe or other places. In the Jordan valley, there are more than 17.000 Palestinian workers in the illegal Israel settlements. As a result of this, nowadays we have many settlements surrounding Al Auja village, green all over there, mainly doing palmtree farming. And the workers are all Palestinians. So it was a strategy to reduce the water. 10 to 12 percent of this 17.000 Palestinian workers are children under 16 years. If you would be one of these people, having no degree and working in your own land for others, and open your eyes to see the situation... Palestininas are denied to have access to their land, their natural ressources, they have to apply for permits that will take sometimes tens of years when you are lucky to get it, to dig a well. Some people applied, died and their sons continue the process. We can not continue our life like this, controlled for everything. If my house is in area A and my future son house will be in area C, then I can not guarantee that he can live safely in his house. Hanging out with his wife, and in the middle of the night having Israeli soldiers pushing the door and doing exercises on human beeings. My people are killed in any checkpoint. Israeli soldiers are doing real exercises also on bedouin families. A bedouin told me that at night, he was sleeping with his wife, and a soldier was entering in the middle of the room! There is no security. Even in your house. This is pushing me forward to help, to tell in one of the big conferences that I have this facts. I have pictures, I have numbers, I have real stories, I have films. Come to see the Palestinian situation on the ground! It is not what the media is telling you.
My name is Rashed Khidirg, I work since 10 years in the Jordan valley area. We don ́t have a right for education and free movement here. They build five checkpoints around the Jordan valley, to control the whole area. The Israeli army is more and more demolishing our houses. To solve this poroblems and to change this situation we need more international pressure. This is the way how we can have peace in the end, and have more justice for the people. To get access to water, we collect it from area A or area B around the Jordan valley with a tractor. Sometimes we spend two hours travelling. Seven years ago, the Israeli military soldiers started to con scate our water trucks. This makes it more hard and difficult for us. The Israeli attacks, harassment, no water, not allowed to build houses, we don ́t have hospitals, electricity, schools or universities in most of the communities in the Jordan valley. This is why we always say „to resist is to exist“, because to exist in this situation without these simple rights is really hard. Especially in the summer time, when it is like 45 degrees hot. My biggest wish is to be in the same level of humanity with all people in the world, and to have the same justice. Me personally, I spend all my life under occupation. When I see how the Israeli soldiers con scate the material from the international Red Cross, and they don ́t respect the international law, it makes me more and more worried about the international community. They are silent about what is going on. This means for me, that kind of occupation will be dangerous for the whole world. When the Israelis don ́t respect the humanity and the international law, why is the international community and the European Union still silent about this?
„In the Jordan valley the settlements are growing like cancer. They are growing slowly, slowly, slowly.“
My name is Ahmed Ameenatayat, I am from Al Auja village and I work here as a farmer. We came to this village after the war of 1967. Before this war, me and my family lived near the Jordan river. The distance from Al Auja to our old place is around 7 kilometers. During the war, the Israeli army damaged our village. They said that it ́s now a military closed area and we cannot stay there. Half of my family immigrated to Jordan, and the other half, me, my father and some of my uncles and aunts, came here, because it is closer to our land. At that time, we thought after some weeks we can return. But since 1967 till today, we are staying here in Al Auja hoping to return. On our land next to the Jordan river, the Isreali farmers cultivate dates since the 1980s. They do not let us simply see our land, they build some fences around the date trees, and mined the rest of the area. They damaged all the houses and the schools of our village to cultivate dates on it! They sell the dates internationally. They are very big, very sweet and very delicious. My father told me, that he usually owned 100 fields of date trees here in that area, and my uncel also... big land. Now I don ́t get enough money out of our farm to feed the family, and we cannot save anything. I work from the morning to the evening, and at the end of the month I cannot even feed my family! At the same time, other people earn a lot of money out of my land. My father is now 80 years old, and he will not be able to see his land again. I only saw him crying one time, when he talked to some soldiers and they didn ́t let him trough to see and to smell his land. They told him that it is a dangerous, a closed military area. But it seems to be only dangerous for the owner of the land, not for the settlers living there. To see my father crying makes me sad, and I know I cannot do anything for him. We live in a holy land for so many people: for the Muslims, for the Jews, for the Christians. It is a big land and we can live together in peace. We can return to our land, and cultivate our land, and we can live together. I don ́t want my children to live like me and my father in this area. All of the people in Palestine want peace. The security is not coming by the war and by killing. The security is only coming by peace.
„We can not wait until we get the freedom. It is an unknown date, a kind of a dream. How I deal with it now: we can fight the occupation by building our country.“
My name is Mohanad Saideh, I am 34 years old. I am working in Auja Environmental Center since eight years now. I am working here as a tour guide. My whole family and me, we are here in Al Auja as refugees from 1967. Here, in the Eco Center, we talk a lot about the Jordan river and its rehabilitation. The Jordan river for my family was more then a river and water. The relationship between my family and the river was a symbol of life for them. This is the reason why they lived there for a long time. I am a tour guide, and I took a lot of groups to the baptism site at the Jordan river. I saw the quality of the water and the smell, it ́s totally sewage. When I started to ask my family about the Jordan river, they said that the water was clear, they drank directely from the river. They irrigated their farms from the Jordan river. They started fishing, and sold the fish in different cities. If you stood on the bank of the river, you saw the small crabs at the bottom. They said the width of the river in summertime was around 80 meters, and in wintertime, when it was flooded, sometimes around 1000 meters. A few years ago, I liked to let my father see and visit the Jordan river again, so I took him with me to the baptism site. „Before we reached the river I saw his smile, his lips were reaching his ears. But when he saw the water he felt shocked. He said: „Where are we? This is not the Jordan river“. He told me, that he was planning to swim in the water, to refresh his mind about all the things that he did before 1967. But this water he didn ́t want touch. He started to cry, I am sure he felt like a father who is missing one of his kids. We planned to stay there more than one hour, but after 10 minutes he told me: „Please, bring me back home, I cannot stay here anymore. This is not the Jordan river, this is just the place of the Jordan river.“ I would like to say something to the Israeli people: Imagine you are thirsty, and you haven ́t got drinking water, you haven ́t even water to wash your face in the morning. And your neighbour is relaxing in his swimming pool. After that feeling, you feel that there is something growing, an angry feeling is growing up more and more. Not because you are a bad person, just because you are a human beeing. Sometimes, especially in the summertime, during the agriculture season from july to october, the settlements irrigate a lot of water when they cultivate the land. During that time, the people here in Al Auja sometimes fill their tanks on the roof with salty water for domestic use and are buying drinking water in bottles. The settlers irrigate their farms with the drinking water and they pay one shekel for one cubicmeter. Here, the Al Auja people buy the drinking water: 2000 shekel for the same amount of water, one cubicmeter from bottles! Al Auja land is now a desert, and they have the control over the water. Maybe you are surprised from that, I feel very sad for the settlers kids, who are living here in Jordan valley. In other cities, like Tel Aviv, Netanja or Haifa, the kids go to school maybe with their bikes, walking or with the school busses. But the settlers kids here go to school with a special bus like an army bus, with guards with guns. They cannot go playing, everywhere are cameras, so they have the seeds of the afraid feeling with them from the beginning. So they grow up with this afraid feeling, and that is what I am feeling sad for. Every morning, when I am coming from my house to go to my work, I see the Israeli school busses. I am looking for them, and they just look to me as someting like... wolfes or hyenas or something like that. Maybe no one told them that we are bad people, but they feel it from what is happening around them. A kid, which is maybe 10 years old, wakes up every day: guns, cameras, guns, cameras. After that, when the kid is grown up, he has the feeling he cannot live without these safety things. My biggest dream is the freedom. To feel like the others. When I am working as a tour guide, I meet a lot of people. They tell me that they came from Africa and travel to Asia, go to Russia and after that cross to Marocco. After hearing this, for me as a Palestinian, I start thinking if I am a human like those people. The biggest thing, I sometimes like to cry about it: Jerusalem. If I would drive with my car from here to Jerusalem, I would just need 20 minutes. But I didn ́t go to Jerusalem since eight years, becaues I need a permit to go there. For you, if you have a car, just turn it on and you can go directely to Jerusalem - and you are coming from Germany. But me, I am not allowed to go there. The permit is just like a fun story, like it could be in a classic cartoon. I applied for lots of permits. Sometimes they say: „No, you are dangerous, you are not allowed to get the permit“. And sometimes they give it to me easily. The last permit they gave to me was one for visiting Israel for 3 months. But after that they said: „No, you are not allowed“. I asked a lawyer to look for the reasons. The answer was: „For security reasons“. And when they say this, no one is able to ask more questions. No lawyer, no court.
„I have two kids, and daily, when I go to sleep, I am waiting for the Israeli army to come. They always come at night.“
My name is Najef Gawanma, I live in a bedouin village near Al Auja. I have eight brothers, and in the past me, my brothers, my father and also my uncles were mainly working with the animals. Today, we have only 30 goats left. I am working in the Israeli settlements as an agriculture worker. I am 44 years old, and I was born here. My whole family are refugees from 1948, we came from the desert area in the south. Now, we are living in an area which is like a prison. We cannot move anymore. Area C is a military area, there are settlements everywhere. We can ́t do the yearly trip as we used to do in summer and wintertime: We went up the mountains in the summer, and came down to the valleys when it was getting colder and rainy. Now, there are a lot of settlers around us. Each year we have to sell parts of our animals to buy food and water. Because the Al Auja spring is drying, we have to buy water in the city of Auja or Jericho. We are just named as Bedouins, but we are cheap workers in the settlements now. All our community here has a warning letter from the Israeli army to leave our houses. We are facing the demolition of our houses yearly. I miss the safe feeling. When they come and demolish the houses, they let everyone of us come out and stop us in front of our house. The kids and the woman saw the bulldozers demolishing their houses. So our kids are afraid of the army from the beginning. The last letter came two months ago. This kind of demolishing of our houses comes a lot at the Israeli election times. My biggest wish is to life in peace and freedom. I also wish to have justice. Here, we are so thirsty, and the settlements around us have swimming pools. If I cannot control my life for the next week, how can I plan or dream of good wishes for the future?
„It is really annoying me, that people judge me by my appearance, by my face, not by the skills I have. Often I am not recognized.“
My name is Kefah Kmail, I am 27 years old. I was born in the area of Jenin, in Quabatiya. I still live here in my family ́s house. I never travelled, because I had no chance for that – but I wish I will do it someday. I am not interested in politics anymore. I feel it’s all fake or all bullshit, to be honest. We are lost in the middle of this. The people, the normal people, we are the ones who suffer and who pay the price. If something happens, the leaders will travel and leave us alone here, to face this hard life here. What hurts me the most personally, is to be an albino. This causes a lot of problems for me here, because I am not able to get what I want. The people treat me in another way, I have a lack of chances. Sometimes they even don ́t give me the chance to try. I can ́t accept what I have. Of course it ́s more dif cult to be a girl here. You have to watch out for everything, people tell you: „Don ́t do this, don ́t do that...“ If you are a woman and married and you have six daughters, you have to keep giving birth until you have a boy. If you have thousand girls and no boy it ́s like you have nothing. Some people here think a girl is not... I don’t know. I know some woman in my village, some of them are so close to me... Some of them have eight, nine girls and the boy is not coming. They are so sad. To be a girl is not to be like a gift from God, not something really precious. I don ́t have any wishes I guess. Maybe travel around the world. I like the idea, but I don ́t know if it’s really cool. Some people say that travelling is dangerous. So for me... I don ́t know.
“Al Qaida, this is not the real Islam. It is a distorted version of our very beautiful religion. There are so many people who do much wrong in the name of the Islam.”
I am Mohammed Mouwia. In 1948, during the Nakba, my grandfather had to move from a small village to Jenin; since then me and my family are living here in the refugee camp, and I was born here. In Palestine, there are many things that trouble me and I feel hurt by. It is our land, but we can not do anything here. Although we are living in area A. The Israeli army can do what they want with me and my family. If I speak one word, they will put me in prison. My way of resistance? I have been working in arts since 2006. I started as a computer teacher, then I shifted to photography. After that I taught myself filmmaking, then I moved to design. Everything I am doing I learned by myself. I realized that the art can really have an impact on the people, more then anything else. More than violent resistance or anything. If people are shooting their gun, relentlessly for 100 years in the camp, nobody will hear it outside. Nobody will listen to the story, our story. With one photo, you can express many things. I feel that my way of resistance trough art is the most powerful resistance I can practice. What religion means to me? I am a Muslim, I like religion and it ́s a way of life. If you go deeper and understand exactly what Islam is speaking about, then you really have the way of life from the beginning to end: how to speak with people, how to respect others, how to discuss with others. It is absolutely untrue that if somebody is against Islam, he has to be killed. This has never happened in Islam and was not practised in Islamic history. We have the real Islam on the one side, and the modern Islam or American Islam on the other side.
“The occupation for me feels like just having walls, walls, walls. Keep you quiet in that small box.”
My name is Majd, me and my family live in Jenin since 1948. There is a song from a Palestinian singer which says: “They stock us in a box, and just god can help us.” And that is what they do. With the outer and the inner politics. All together is hard to deal with. I work on myself, having my feet on the ground. When I can stand, I can help others. Sometimes we should work more on our mind and our motions to be more open and more peacful with the simple people. Even that is hard, dealing with many emotions. Just to be... to keep going. My biggest wish is to have a home someday, somewhere in this land. And to travel around the world with my car. Here it is hard to travel even from city to city, with all the checkpoints.
„When you see your family and friends die when you are a child, what do you think when you are older? You do not think about going school, just about who killed your father, and that you want to kill them.“
My name is Ahmat, I am from Jenin camp and 27 years old. My grandfather ́s family came here after they were kicked out of their homes by the Zionists in 1948. I am born here, and I never saw the sea like many others from the West Bank of my age. We have no good life here. I know there is a sea quite close, just 60 kilometers away, but we need a permission to go there. Here in the camp, it’s possible every single day that Israeli soldiers are coming to throw teargas or kill people. During the Intifada in 2002, I was a child, and I saw everything. I thought this is the normal life. I was 12 years old, and I saw the tanks, I saw the people die on the floor, I smelled the bad smell of the dead bodies. They were fighting, shooting, and a lot of people died. I stayed in our home, with 24 members of my family in one small room, for weeks, without food. I like to live in Jenin, this is my city. The most I like the camp, the streets and the people. They are good people, with a good heart. When you are walking outside in the camp at night, it’s very dangerous. When you go to the mosque to pray at night, the Israeli soldiers could be afraid and kill you. The soldiers could think you have a gun, even if you just want to go to the mosque to pray! I have a lot of friends who experienced this. When I was a child, I dreamed that I am the leader of a group of freedom fighters. I don ́t dream of that anymore, because when I kill one person, the Israeli soldiers will come here and kill ten, not one. They are much stronger. I believe in education. But a lot of kids here in the camp are still dreaming to have a gun when they are older, to shoot and to die. A lot of people here just think about the loved people they lost during the invasion of 2002. When you are 20 years old, and you do not have money, no job to do, you don ́t have anything. You didn ́t see the sea. So why should you stay, why not die?
„We were exporting a lot of things, and now, we miss everything. For 69 years now we are lost. We don ́t know who controls our case, and we don ́t know who we are.“
I am Habeeb al Raee, I am from Al Arroub refugee camp located between Betlehem and Hebron. Originally I am from a small village near Be’er Scheva, that is now in 48. When they kicked the Palestinians out during the Nakba day, my family became refugees in a place just one or two hours away from their originally place, in the hope to return back home. But my family is stuck in the Al Arroub refugee camp since 69 years now. We are facing a very, very smart occupation, because they know how to deal with us. How to affect us. Without even killing, or with killing. They are already killing and destroying, the daily harrasement. Very smart, because they are putting the occupation here on the ground. This story can maybe describe more: I went to France, and for this three days, I was suprised by everything. From the reality, from the life... This was the first time for me in Europe. These were my best moments: Open the door of my home, and then going out at three in the night without hearing shooting. Feeling save, walking in the street, talking with the people normally. Here we have only one way of transportation. In France I discovered the metro, the airplane, the trains, and what was the main thing for me: The ships. I did not see the sea before, altough it is just about 60 km away from here. I was really fucked up, because I recognized what they did to us. Leaving us here and keeping us away from all these things. Before, I could not imagine the whole range of what we are missing here, but then I discovered it with my own eyes. This is occupation.
„You understand what freedom means, when you discover that you are really free. That you are not inside of the limted movement or the limited thinking.“
I love the camp, but it ́s not my place. My place is a real one, now in 48, and someone called Rubin or Izak or someone else is enjoying my place. Our village was exporting sugar and oranges. Now he is eating from our sugar. This is how it is to be born in a refugee camp with limited freedom. My camp its surronded by fences of the Israeli army, it ́s a military controlled C area. I always make the joke: They closed already one gate, and they opened one gate with a small door inside. And when they close that door, I always say then they will come and start to throw bananas for us, like for monkeys. No I swear. Beeing in a refugee camp, it ́s a huge and big suffering. No one could recognize this until you come and live in a refugee camp by yourself. I don ́t believe in borders and lands and these things. My believe is I will love to see all the places open for each other and to life equally. The most important thing is that I believe of myself. And I am not waiting for the other peolpe to believe in me. I do not deny any way of resistance. When you are under occupation, all the ways of resistance are legal. Cultural, any way you think of. Anyone is able to choose his or her way. People want to resist by gun, by art... my way is only beeing Palestinian and sending my own message, to describe my situation well, to know how to tell it to the people. For them to understand. I am proud to be a moslem. Because my Islam talks about mercy and how to deal in a very polite way with people, how to respect the others, how to respect the space with the others. Islam means to me the great value. The Islam is talking about how to be good with your family, how to be good with your neighborhood, it is talking about all the good things. The most important things are the mercy and the peace. When I call you „salamualeikum“, without knowing you, that means „peace to you“. That is also part of my Islam. But I am not talking about the ISIS Islam and the others Islams. I believe of my god, of a beautiful god. The air, the trees, everything beautiful, the fresh air, that is God.
My name is Nabil and I am a theatre artist, mainly in play rights and theatre direction. I am not from Jenin camp, I am from another refugee camp called Al Arroub refugee camp, it ́s located between Betlehem and Hebron. I was born there. I am originally from a destroyed village in 1948. When the Israelis occupied Palestine in 1948 and kicked most of the people out of their villages and destroyed many villages there, my village was also destroyed. So my family became refugees inside of Palestine. For the people to understand, and for the people who call it a conflict, for me this is problematic. Of course, everything is a conflict. But to call what is happening on the ground a conflict, you simply putting two sides equal, and this is not true. You have occupied people, and you have the occupier. It is an everyday-battle. Our fight is to exist, and maybe people does not know that. Maybe it ́s not so clear as it is in Syria, where thousands or ten thousand people are dying every day. Our occupation is providing us with the policy of a slow death. A slow death to make you think you have two choices: To die or to leave voluntarily, because they want to be smart. They cannot commit anymore crimes as they committed in the old times. They want you to have this choice. We see it clearly in a daily basis, when young people, which are desperate and depressed, having a knife and running to six, seven soldiers to frighten them and they get killed. So this is actually what we are facing. I always think as a human being, it seems that time did not change the attitude towards each other. It seems that we never learned the lesson of taking care of each other. It seems that more and more capitalism, money and individualism is taking over. It seems to be that if you are an established country, a strong one, you can kill, and murder, and occupy and no one can tell you anything. And if you are a small group of people trying to resist, to exist, then you are a terrorist. I never understood the defnition of terrorism. I never understood the rule of it. Of course, everyone who terrorizes another one is considered to be a terrorist in an way or another. But there are different terms for that. There is not only one side of the story, there are so many different angles to the story. We have to be careful of that. This is what hurts me.
“I am not feeling any mercy or compassion in the heart of the Israelis. This makes my people leave our land.”
My name is Baraa Sharqawi, I am 26 years old. I live in a small village named Zababdia next to Jenin since I was born, and also my family lives here since a long time. I like the nature and the silence here, and also that we, the Muslims, live in peace together with another religion, the Christians. I can not live freely, and move to other places. I can not do a lot. The most I hate the destruction of our houses and the killing of palestinian children in the street, just because they threw a stone. My way of resistance is to save our culture, which is not only getting lost in the places in 48. Trough this, I want to make the people stay here. Resistance can also be writing, singing or drawing. Anything, not just shooting. With these tools you can reach and change much more people. But you also need weapons to defense yourself, for example when they come to destroy your house at night. There are diffrent kinds of resistance, depending on place, time and situation. My biggest wish is to be able not to worry about tomorrow, just to live in the moment. The occupation is present all the day, and everybody can possibly die the next day because he or she got shot. I wish peace for my country, that the killing stops, and no more houses get destroyed.
„They didn ́t let any Arab family stay in the western part of Jerusalem. Jews, Moslems and Christians, we were living together! We never had the idea that one day we will face this way of leaving our country“
My name is Khalid Murkakir. Me and my family came to this village in 1948 and are still working here as farmers until today. They don ́t make our life here easy. If you want peace and the people living together, you must share your resources in a fair way. We say we have to live in peace together. But what kind of peace could this be, without the rights of the people, the owners of this land? Now the Israeli politics is going to the right wing, and what I see is a black future. It is not fair.
My name is Sofie. I was in the age of 14 when we left our home in Jerusalem. We were forced to leave. We had friends in Betlehem, and they gave us one room. We stayed three and a half years in one room waiting and expecting to be back. But it never happened. I had the chance to marry in a village very near Bethlehem, and then I had a family. Khalid, he is my youngest son. I have four boys and two girls. When we left home, we took nothing with us from the house. Until now, we always live in hope. We always have the feeling that something better will come, but until now... it ́s far. What hurts me the most is, that we feel that the Jews want the whole country. They are building settlements in all the West Bank. Why? They have empty places in Israel! I know the country well, I was not young when we left. There are places for them, but they want it all. We are afraid of that. If they want the land, they will take it. In anyway. They take the land, they don ́t mind if we say yes or no. But we never forget. I was 14 years old, I remember everything. Not a single Arab family remained in 1948. They didn ́t stop and they closed the borders. Their propaganda was: „You will be back in 10 days, you will be back, you will be back...“ And now, we are here. Who knows what will happen. They are not doing well. Here, I still have my palestinian ID, it ́s from before 1948. At that time, my best friend was a Jewish girl, Judith. She came to Jerusalem as a tourist, and then she married there. We were so friendly, we never expected what will happen. The Jews who lived in the country, we were friends. They came from Russia, from Poland, from all around the world. Later, Judith came to Bethlehem, she insisted to find me. It was a nice time, she was Jewish, and I am an Arab. All the Palestinans, from the West Bank or Gaza, we feel we are a family. It ́s good that still our heart is with us.
„He had 67 shots in his legs. A young child of 12 years! I can not imagine that well trained soldiers are not able to catch a boy with a knife.“
Khalid: This morning, I heared in the news that the Palestinian minestry of health visited a child in a village next to Bethlehem. He was shot. The Iseaeli army thought that he was coming to pull a knife, but he had nothing. They are shooting just for killing. Many of these boys die by a mistake. And the Israeli soldiers put a knife next to them. Last year I was in jail for one month, in Israel. They brought young people, 12, 13 years old. These boys must not be in jail. They are too young, they are children and want to play, not to be in jail. The way they treat them... they make hard men out of them. When a kid goes out oft the jail,he is a man, not a kid anymore. They want this young people to be afraid. But this is not the right way. When you put a cat in a small cage, it will become a tiger. Start to attack you. Even when the cat is weak, she will try to save herself. They came to our home, at two o ́clock in the morning, then they took me. I have a gun. They took it, I was in jail for one month and had to pay 7000 shekel. Now I have no permission to go to Israel for 3 years. We have a problem with wild pigs here, they damage the crops. This is why I had the gun. When I came back from jail, my wife told me that they damaged all the house. All the clothes, all the beds.
“Finally, I was at the sea in Jaffa for two or three hours, and it was great. It was my first time and I was 23 years old.”
My name is Yafa, I am 25 years old and I am working as a lecturer at the University in Nablus. I have lived in Jenin since I was born. When I was studying in Cyprus, I really felt what it means to live in safety. I really felt in a depression when I came back. At that time, there were a lot of children killed at the checkpoints, because they said they had a knife with them. Israeli soldiers kill them so easy, just in one minute they can stop one ́s life. To be in Cyprus was really nice, I miss the feeling of safety here in my country. And I was able to see the sea any time I wanted. Here, we cannot. We need a permission, and it ́s not easy to get a permit to go to the sea. You have to apply for it, and maybe you get it, maybe not, it depends on them. And if you have one, you normally have it just for 12 hours. I remember my first time when I went to Jaffa in Tel Aviv, to see the sea. It was in 2013 when they gave us a special permission during Ramadan for one month. It was so, so nice. Here are only Palestinians, and the other cultures are so rare. Our society is man-controlled, and everything is the same. I believe that we have the power to change. My greatest wish is to be free. Not only related to the occupation, also cultural freedom. To have the freedom to be more like myself.