Sunday, January 25, 2009

Machsom Watch: Getting Beyond the Barrier

Dear Naomi Lalo,

I have always liked the name Naomi. My grandmother's name was Ruth. My mother's name is Naomi. When I was young, I learned many stories in Sunday School, but one had personal impact because of the names of the women. Naomi had gone to a foreign country. Her travels were not like those I have taken to foreign places, with trips that included planes and hours watching movies from the relative comfort of an air seat. She traveled from Bethlehem to Moab a place in what is now Jordan, watched her sons marry women of that country, watched her husband die and sons die, and returned home with one of daughters-in-law, a woman named Ruth.

So I have liked your name for several reasons.

You, I have read, are one of the leaders of Machsom Watch. One of your members produced the video that I posted on inauguration day, a video letter to Obama. Machsom means barrier, doesn't it? And your organization is watching the great barriers or checkpoints that pepper the landscape of your land, that for many represents the heart of the middle east.

If Naomi and Ruth were trying to return to Bethlehem today, I doubt they could get there without being searched at a checkpoint. They might have to suffer great indignities. They might have to wait in a line all day. They might not be able to reach their destination at all.

I wanted to thank you for your efforts and the efforts of the Israeli women in Machsom Watch who are committed to peace and justice and decency and safety for those women and men, who, like Ruth and Naomi of old, are just trying to get home, or trying to get to work, or trying to get to the hospital, or trying to get water to drink.

The website says:
MachsomWatch, in existence since 2001, is an organisation of peace activist Israeli women against the Israeli Occupation of the territories and the systematic repression of the Palestinian nation. We call for Palestinian freedom of movement within their own territory and for an end to the Occupation that destroys Palestinian society and inflicts grievous harm on Israeli society.
Each day you stand and watch and record entries in your books, describing what is happening, so that the world will know. On the 13th of January, this happened:
Two youths turn to us for help. Two horses have trotted over the Schoolchildren's Gate away to the security road. They can't go and get them because they are not allowed to pass through the gate. One of the youths says that being a minor he hasn't got an ID card. The soldier insists that they shouldn't have let the horses gallop freely and that they did it on purpose. (Why would they though? It's not likely that they would want to lose the two horses). Finally it is agreed that a military vehicle will chase the horses back to the village.
I have horses. I know that you would not want them to gallop away.

And many times they do not want to gallop away, but they become fearful at some of the strangest things. Mine fears butterflies and flapping tarps. He can get quite upset at the sight of a fresh roundbale in a field, which was not there the last time we passed by. The sound of a firing gun makes my horse quite upset. And he will run. But usually he wants to return. Last week he slipped his fence, quite inadvertantly, grazing quietly through a break in the fence. Upon realizing his freed state, he pranced and whinnied hoping for rescue from the great beyond. I think, the Palestinian horses would have done the same, except, perhaps for the sight of the guns and angry soldiers.

Horses are the same, the world over.

At any rate, Naomi, thank you for all you do, keeping some Palestinians and some horses, safe in the Holy Land.



cadh 8 said...

Beautiful post. What a sad situation they are in.

Love you,

brd said...

Yes. I am very impressed by the heart of the women of Israel though. And there are some Israeli politicians who also have a desire for justice.

Anonymous said...

Thanks respecting sharing. Like on all occasions, on the well-to-do and right on target!