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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

‘Our Dreams Are Dead’

The walls stand 30 feet high, huge slabs of gray cement, snaking their way through the West Bank for almost 500 miles. They block roads, bisect villages, cut off kids from their schools, farmers from their fields, families from relatives. "Welcome to the Ghetto, Walls of Tears" reads one of the many graffiti. "The Dumb Wall Is Screaming," "Make Love, Not Walls," read others. And my favorite, in huge orange letters on the road to Ramallah: "Control*Alt*Delete." Around Bethlehem the walls have become a protest art gallery—an oversize white donkey with tears running down its cheeks, a dove wearing a flak vest with a bull's-eye painted on its breast, a young girl frisking a soldier. The Israelis call them separation walls. The Palestinians call them apartheid walls. They are a nightmare.

Consider the Israeli travel restrictions. No Palestinian living in the West Bank is allowed to enter Jerusalem without written permission from the Israeli government.

Despair is the word I hear most often from West Bank Palestinians, 58 percent of whom have fallen below the poverty line. "I can't get work from the Israeli side because I am haram [forbidden], and the Palestinians can't even afford to pay me bus fare," says an architect reduced to working in a bookstore. The night offers particular terrors. Jad, who works late, recognizes the sounds of frequent Israeli raids, "explosions and hard beats on doors and screams," she says. ‘Our Dreams Are Dead’
[thanks YA]


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