The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Tears of Women Heal the World


Elana Golden • September 26th 2004

6:00 a.m. and I am picked up by U. and A. at a Tel Aviv intersection. U. smokes, and A. sings and apologizes for it. I tell her, "no, no, keep singing." In a posh neighborhood north of Tel Aviv we meet D.B. and move to her car. She's married to a famous Israeli actor and entertainer. A few days earlier we spoke on the phone and I asked her permission to write about her, using only her initials. She said: "No, no, use my name, tell everything, I want the world to know." But for some reason, I don't know why, I am using only her initials after all.

D.B. drives in the West Bank as if she was born there, knowing every nook and cranny, every road, and many families by their names, stories and professions. It's the first time I met D.B. - a former business woman now in jeans and t-shirt, now going to the checkpoints weekly for the past three years as part of Machsom (checkpoints) Watch, now going to demonstrations against the wall, against the occupation, and member in several women's groups for peace, justice, freedom, some of them international, all of them including not only Jewish Israelis but also Palestinian Israelis from within the green line, and Palestinian women from the West Bank and Gaza. "It's great that an opinion leader like yourself is doing so much work," I told her on the phone when we first spoke, "you have a large circle of influence." She responded humbly, maybe hopelessly. I know she does what she does not in order to gain fame or recognition but because her heart is broken. She must do what she does. I once heard a saying that "The tears of women will heal the world", may it be so.

Twenty minutes from the beautiful, truly beautiful Tel Aviv city, we were in the West Bank parking D.B's car next to a run down shack, crossing the modern highway, and over big rocks and barricades placed there by the Israeli army as one of many ways to enclose the Palestinians, to obstruct any attempt of leaving their villages. Three young men, no older than nineteen, stood next to an old dilapidated car, smoking, complaining, "No work". We agreed they'll wait for us a couple of hours later to take us back to the main road, while another Palestinian man, a school teacher with whom D.B. had made arrangements, now drove us to the checkpoint. D.B. pointed out the village market, how it's empty and closed because everything is closed, a ghost town, hard to go in, hard to go out, no merchandise.

A Jewish settlement, Shaarei Tikva - The Doors of Hope in Hebrew, is built right in between the Palestinian villages Bet Amin and Bet Azun. To "protect" this settlement, a checkpoint had been built in the center, right next to a sewer. It was 7:00 a.m. when we arrived, the line of cars already long and waiting for an hour, school children in their uniforms and carrying school bags waiting to pass through to go to school. A yellow metal gate with lock and key, the site of which I had only seen in documentary films, in power-point presentations and on Palestinian calendars, was now a reality. And on both sides of the yellow gate, a nine meters tall barb wire fence stretching to the north and to the south, and next to it a sign: "He who approaches, endangers himself with death."

By 8:00 a.m. the line of cars waiting at the checkpoint was still long and included teachers who'd purposely gotten there early, but it meant nothing to the soldiers that classes begin at 8:00 and they'll be late. One of the soldiers asked A., one of our group of four women, to pick up the cigarette butt she'd just thrown on the ground. She did. From the filthy ground next to a smelly sewer which was getting smellier and smellier as the settlement's residences were beginning their day. An older, lean Palestinian man approached us complaining his ID card had been taken from him by the soldiers the day before. He slept the night among the olive trees nearby and now, as he came to pick it up, the soldiers told him they knew nothing about it and waved him away. One of our women spoke to the soldiers. To her they said they knew about the ID card, taken the day before. "When will it be returned?" A. asked. "I don't know, today, tomorrow, if we can find it...." This officer in charge had eyes emptied of any care or concern. D.B. immediately phoned a higher army official, complained, and was promised the ID card would be back at the checkpoint by 12:00 noon. The older Palestinian man shook our hands, thanked us and went to rest among the olive trees. One of his eyes was blue and the other was missing. I wanted to ask him why but I did not. He was patient, spoke Spanish and told us he'd lived in a South American country. Later that day, as I spoke to one of my women friends in Tel Aviv, she waved off the Machsom Watch project saying: "Ha! It does not have any political effect, it does not really change the situation." I told her about the man with one blue eye. How we spent his moments of distress with him, how for a short while we made him feel like a human being who counts, how for this short grave time he was not alone...

By 9:00 a.m. most of the Palestinian teachers, students and families had passed through the checkpoint. We found Zoher who took us back to the main road through the village, the market still shut, empty, deserted. D.B. knew of a house, demolished just a week ago, and we stopped to take pictures of it. The grass was still very green and fresh, the blooming rose-bushes in such contrast to the ruins, a tall red flower with large silky petals looming over the horror.

The horror did not stop there. I must put a face to it, a detail, I must de-generalize it and place a human story to it: An isolated Palestinian house has remained between the settlement of Elkana and the nine meters barbed wire fence, very close to the settlement. So the army surrounded this house with barbed wire fences on all four sides and gave the key to the older couple enclosed in it. When they need to, they can open the gate from inside and go out. But no one is allowed to visit them. Not even their grown children or grandchildren who live in the nearby village. The mother had to say to her daughter, D.B. told me: "Please don't come, they will demolish our house if you come."

The four of us continued to another village to meet a Palestinian woman, a social worker by profession, who works with groups of women to empower them. We met her in a house where internationals live. A room full of laptops, maps of Palestine since 1917, four Anglo Saxon women. F.H arrived. Long gabardine coat the color
of olives, silk scarf on her head and eyeglasses on her intelligent face, like the smartest student in the class. She embraced the Internationals and knew each of them by name. We were then all introduced. F.H positioned herself on the low mattress. We spoke about the situation. The checkpoint to a town nearby is open from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m, and from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. When she asked the soldiers why, why is it closed from 10:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m., they said: "Security reasons." D.B. immediately called the army liaison who deals with Machsom (checkpoints) Watch. At present I don't know the result.

After sitting across from F.H., I was now pulled to sit next to her. It was hot, and in the company of women she took off her scarf, wiping the sweat off her forehead, then she removed her coat remaining in a short sleeve t-shirt. She sighed, she smiled, and she leaned onto U. who was next to her on the mattress. F.H. told us about the group of women for peace and empowerment she leads, over one hundred women of all ages. I told her that I work with Palestinian American women's groups in Los Angeles through writing, and that maybe we can work together. She took my card which says: "Personal Story Writing."

"Personal stories?" she exclaimed! "I'll tell you a personal story." And she told of a young Palestinian woman, a friend of hers, who was working in the olive harvest. Only one day she came and the trees had been cut to the ground and burned. The young woman had lost her work and her trees. F.H. was now crying. We held her. D.B. had her dark sunglasses on. I felt how hard it is for her to witness F.H.'s pain.

We then crossed barricades, rocks and a narrow metal bridge toward D.B's car, helping F.H. in her long coat. We drove her and embraced her goodbye at a large cemetery for cars, - hundreds of cars taken away from their owners and gathered there, - another way to obstruct the movement of Palestinians. We watched F.H. as she walked away from us, tall and elegant, and disappeared among the cars.


Elana Golden is a Romanian Israeli living in the US since 1978. She is part of Women in Black, Los Angeles and a writer, filmmaker and has a school for Creative Writing in L.A.





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

2 October 2004

Other Articles From This Issue:

John Kerry: He's Milking it, He's Milking it!!!
Patrick Hurley

Ultimate Deadline by Endless Postponement
Anthony McIntyre

Say it in Breac'n English (Part Two)
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Tears of Women Heal the World
Elana Golden

When a Beautiful Soul Comes to Visit
Mary La Rosa

Via Haiti US megaphones Venezuela: "Will you comply?!"
translated by Toni Solo

27 September 2004

Intimidation of a Writer
Anthony McIntyre

Say it in Breac'n English
Seaghán Ó Murchú

An Open Letter to the Man Known as "Martin Ingram"
Mick Hall

Philosophy in a Time of Terror
Liam O Ruairc

Diary: 3 Days
Elana Golden



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