The way Daniela and Shoshi - our tour guides - engaged with us, how they approach the situations we can see in the West Bank and having a real conversation with Palestinians (that are facing the checkpoints every day) helps tremendously to understand both the people and the conflict as it is lived every day - which is a necessary step towards seeing how to solve it.
Machsomwatch, overall, is clearly doing an important job in the peacebuilding process we all need.
Fransiscus Ismaël Kusters.
BIOPSY / Oded Maoz
Others have already compared the “settlement project” to “a cancer
in the body of Israeli society” and in this world of images
our tour of the West Bank was
a “biopsy” of sorts “of the afflicted area”
and, accordingly, the symptoms confirmed the diagnosis.
The main facts we were presented with are not new!
For us the sights and talks with the locals
were more proof that nothing beats seeing for ourselves.
For decades we as Israeli citizens are complicit,
if unwillingly, to the unbearable discrimination, dispossession,
movement restrictions and patronization and more of the like
suffered by Palestinians. The entire situation is unacceptable!!
At the end of the day, I felt shame, nausea, and weakness
in face of the authorities that undermine the foundation of our existence,
namely the moral justification for our being here. Such loss
undermines the right of a Jewish Zionist state to exist in this country
and also affects our ability to rise up to the struggles
awaiting us in the international sphere.
And still, we must not give up the struggle for justice.
I just wanted to say thank you again for such an amazing and unique experience while in Israel. As an American Jew for whom the issues of the occupation have always seemed fairly abstract, the tour to the West Bank with you not only made those visceral, but helps me feel better equipped to wrestle with my own feelings over Israeli policy and engage in conversation. My friends very much enjoyed the day with Machsom Watch, one mentioning that the tour was, by far, the best thing we did on the trip.
Yours is certainly an amazing organization. Thank you for all of the important work you do!
I hope our paths cross again, and will definitely follow your work.
Thank you very much for the clear, balanced, intelligent, coherent and interesting guide that you were for us during this tour.
Much appreciation for the efforts you and your (MW) friends devote to this and thus enable us, the passive public, to be exposed and meet the other side in the painful and desperate conflict in which we are involved. I would gladly interest other people in joining these tours.
Thank you and good luck further on, to all of us.
I just want to thank you for the tour we did yesterday…It was very well organized and you are the champion of the explanations! clear, interesting, with a special suspense touch! It was really a good experience, because even if a lot of us still knew part of the things you described to us, seeing them with our own eyes and listening to the people who live day by day this difficult situation, transforms written words in reality!
Thank you, thank you a lot chiara
Very dear Daniela,
As we arrived at our final stop I ran towards the front of the bus, all ready to sound off the speech of thanks I had prepared in my head… and was disappointed to have missed you.
I wanted to tell you that prior to this tour we were apprehensive, fearing possible attempts to talk us into being more ‘leftist’ than we are, that I would return even more depressed and despairing than I already am, and that the tour won’t show us anything new because we are quite up to date with the situation, and that perhaps this would just be another boring tour, as we already suffer too many distractions as it is.
But everything was so well measured! And to the point. Every word uttered was weighed and fell in its perfect place. I could even tell my mother when we were back – “It’s not what you think… the guide herself likes soldiers… And Eretz Israel!!” So thanks for a beautiful and sad day that will make ne glad, the day I chose to celebrate my birthday. Qaddoum village will stay with me for a long time. At night I dreamt (my imagination was already working on the bus on our way back) that Qaddoum would become a site for pilgrims from all over the world, with people sitting in the houses and drinking tea and telling their story to their guests and that the village is protected from all evil.. Just fantasizing, it’s a good thing sometimes.
And I wanted to tell you that you do a wonderful job! This morning I already prepared a whole list of people I will urge to take this tour. Perhaps even my mother might be talked into coming, without pressure.
Have a nice week, and thanks a lot,
It took me a long time and lots of air to sit down and write about this “trip”… The tour in the West Bank was organized by Machsomwatch women (yes, strictly women). It was a kind of trip, with an oriental meal at a local restaurant in (the Palestinian village of) Nabi Elias, right beneath the fence that surrounds the Alfei Menashe enclave to the north. Green lovely pastoral landscapes. We viewed several points along the Separation Fence, visited the agricultural checkpoint at Habla (south of the town of Qalqiliya), conversed with locals and returned through Eliyahu Crossing (east of Qalqiliya). We also made a brief visit to the village/encampment on the roa leading to Alfei Menashe (inside the Alfei Menashe enclave).
It is obvious to everyone that if things were the other way around, our situation would be much worse, but still… The reality of Palestinians’ life along the fence is not easy. The need to obtain permits (every single thing requires a separate permit and there are over one-hundred types of permits), going through checkpoints and inspections every morning and evening, all this is no “trip” and the treatment by soldiers/security personnel is not always friendly, to say the least.
My careful assumption is that the future does not promise improved weather…
On behalf of Nurit and myself, I want to thank you very much for the Mahsomwatch Tour that was so well organised and informative that I have only good things to say, so I hope the positive feedback is useful.
One of the best aspects of the tour was the kind of variety of experiences: seeing the wall and its impact on the Palestinian communities, observing an active checkpoint and seeing how it works, the lecture in Nebi Elias gave us a very clear picture of how the policy towards the Palestinians (security zones, settlements, bypass roads) can close in on a community and destroy the livelihood of people, the visit to Kafr Kaddum and the lone house at the end gave us insight into how the Occupation and arbitrary decisions make life so difficult for people, and the driving tour through the heart of the West Bank enabled us to actually see the places we so often hear about in the news and to see the reality on the ground with our own eyes.
IN any case, exposure to this very broad “sample” of the Occupation was more than I expected and very informative - as well as very disturbing.
The explanations you gave on the bus were also very interesting and useful. You did an excellent job. We also appreciated your honesty and precise description of your positions and those of MahsomWatch.
The organisations was excellent. Things were on time and we went according to schedule. The bus was comfortable. We felt secure.
We are happy to recommend the tour to our Israeli friends and to visitors from abroad.
Please let us know if there are ways to be involved. We’re both fluent in Hebrew and English and I speak a passable Arabic.
Nurit and Victor Friedman
The tour was very professionally organised and conducted, your briefings were enormously profound and thus interesting. Thank you so very much! I wish you and all your colleagues good luck with your endeauvors!
All the very best - shabat shalom
We just wish to let you know how much we enjoyed and appreciated the West Bank Tour on 21 December.
Without feeling bombarded by information overload, we learned a great deal about the current situation and we were most impressed with all your hard work, careful organisation, and perseverance in arranging for the people whom we met in the West Bank to speak to our group.
Your knowledge is encyclopaedic, and we feel strongly that both Israelis and visitors should all experience your West Bank tour.
Your dedication to the cause of reconciliation and peaceful co-existence should be an inspiration to everyone.
With all good wishes,
Nina-Anne Kaye and John Stevens.