I was on my way to monitor a checkpoint as usual with Tammy, and Miki Fischer called us; she's always initiating projects. She said, "Listen, I heard there's a man in Ras A-Tira who isn't being given a permit to leave the house. Go see what the story is." We went to Ras A-Tira and met a man who lost his residency permit. It turns out Palestinians who live in the villages inside the Alfei Menashe enclave live in a closed military zone. The settlers from Alfei Menashe are obviously allowed in and out - they're Israeli citizens - but the [Palestinian] residents of the five villages swallowed up in this enclave aren't Israeli citizens, nor are they part of the West Bank
, and they live in a closed military zone. These people have permits enabling them to sleep in their homes and if a person looses this permit, he or she becomes illegal in his or her own home, unable to leave, because if caught, he or she will be considered illegal. So this man had lost his permit. What could we do? We started taking care of the matter. It took four months for him to get his permit back; he had to stay at home until then. That's what the Occupation does.
A few days ago I met a well known Israeli author and his wife. They asked, "What are you up to?" I didn't want to talk about it - I know they're right-wing. "So what are you doing these days? Are you still doing Feldenkrais?" I said, "No." "What are you doing instead?" I said, "I'm with Machsom Watch." "Really? What do you do there?" I mumbled a little and his wife said, "Listen, I don't share your views but good for you for doing what you believe in." We started talking and I began to talk about land theft. He said, "What do you mean, land theft? There's a courthouse, isn't there?"
I said, "Go read Palestinian Walks by Raja Shehadeh.
He's a lawyer protecting a man who is about to loose his lands even though they're legally registered. He's got all the necessary permits and yet the State showed no respect for that and took away his land. It's in the book. You're a man of words, read it."
What interests me now are the enclaves we've created in order to include settlements. In Ras A-Tira, people still can't reach their land. Yesterday, a friend called me to say, "If the gate [between the village and the farmlands] isn't opened this week, I stand to lose my entire wheat crop." This morning I asked others at Machsom Watch to take care of this. We have women taking care of every kind of issue. I'm out in the villages and Tammy, my friend (we used to monitor checkpoints together), stays at home and makes phone calls. She has a great relationship with the army - she knows how to talk to them. I don't; I'm not capable of speaking to them because I instantly get mad, but she doesn't. Once she was absent and I did the calling. The [soldier] on the other end of the line said, "Talking to Tammy is much nicer..." Tammy served in the Palmach and went from the Palmach to the checkpoints.
Tzvia and I started focusing on the villages [in the Alfei Menashe enclave]. When we see someone near a store in the villages, we stop and start chatting, and immediately we get invited in for coffee. We sit together, people start joining us, we get to talking and that's how relationships begin. During these conversations we document and set out to help. Machsom Watch used to say, "We're not a ladies welfare organization. We aren't here to help Palestinians - we're here to protest the Occupation." True, I'm protesting, but there's a sense of satisfaction in helping, that's the truth. If I, with Tzvia, can get Ras A-Tira connected to electricity, it'll be worth everything.