people ask me what I've done on my summer vacation,
what can I tell them? How is it possible to convey
the sounds, smells, sights of an occupation that
is trying to grind the people into the same dust
as their land?
So I thought I'd send you some 'snapshots' of this
little village, a brave and determined people, who
have creatively stood in front of heavily armed
soldiers who would have beaten them into the ground
were it not for their determination, aided by internationals
and the Israeli peace activists.
Several of us are running away from the teargas
that was so oppressive, we choked and gasped throughout
the day. Tears streaming down our faces, we stumble
into an open door of a small house with chickens
and ducks pecking at the front unpreturbed. On the
ground in front of the metal door sat a woman holding
out half an onion for each of us. In fact, she was
sitting on a huge bag of them, and she expertly
cut them in half. She knew we needed them. Without
a word, as we streamed past her, she gave us each
A little girl hiding behind her mother reaches out
to touch my beaded Palestinian bracelet as her grandmother
pulls me into the house. Rubber bullets were flying
over our heads and sound bombs were exploding in
front of us, and they wanted me to be safe. They
give me water to drink and motion for me to sit
down. I pull off the bracelet and hand it to the
little girl. She immediately pulls a small silver
bracelet off her wrist and gives it to me. I have
it on as I am typing this email.
An 80-year-old woman screams at the soldiers, up
under their face guards which aren't going to protect
them from her anger. When they snear and turn away,
she picks up half of a peach she's been eating and
throws it at one of them. Three of them come stomping
back to arrest her as several of us start yelling
"Go away. She won't hit you if you go away.
You're on her land. You're stealing her land."
Just as they turn away, she hits one of them with
a full bottle of water which sprays all over him.
He doesn't dare turn around to look.
A 75-year-old woman stands with me. She's very British
and is dressed very nicely, down to a lovely hat
she's wearing. Her son had been posted in Jordan
long ago, and she'd become interested in justice
for the Palestinians. We have joined arms so the
soldiers can't get through to the Palestinians and
beat or arrest them. They yank her away from me,
and march her off to the huge paddy wagon. She's
protesting all the way down the street, "You
can't arrest a 75-year-old. You can't." They
let her go and say they're only interested in arresting
young people and Israelis.
As the soldiers retreat (and they did), they begin
shooting everything they have left at us. A huge
tear gas cannister flies over my head, missing me
by inches and hits a Palestinian in the leg. He
kicks it away so that the gas won't blow back in
our faces, then limps to the Red Crescent ambulance
to be treated.
The family next door tells us that they can take
ten people to sleep the night before the demonstration.
The next morning, after the military has turned
the village into a closed military zone and blared
through loud speakers that all Israelis and internationals
must leave, they hide us in one of the rooms. It
isn't until the end of the demonstration that we
find out they are in the village illegally themselves,
and, if we had been found, the entire family would
have been sent to prison, even though they are Palestinians
and have the right to live in Bil'in but not the
The morning of the demonstration, we are all locked
down into curfew. We go up on the rooftops and begin
to drum on the pipes and heaters that are on every
roof in Palestine. We've created our own band, and
the noise reverberates through the village as everyone
comes up to join. Across the rooftop is a grandmother
with a baby in one hand and a pipe in another. She
is beating on her heater with all her might, wacking
it as hard as she can and smiling at us as we hang
two huge banners over the edge of the roof.
End of this roll.
The generosity of spirit is breathtaking. We have
been fed to the point of bursting, and we have been
humbled by the determination of a people that refuses
to go away quietly. We are dirty and dusty and tired,
but all of us who participated, from Uri Avnery,
the Israeli activist, who turned 82 yesterday, to
the youngest child who handed out onions, made a