Here’s an opportunity to thank you publicly. Your work is holy, and you give us, too, hope that something can be done. I was impressed by the calm, matter-of-fact and devoted manner in which you led the tour. Your presence, your commitment – the moral stance and maturity that come from age and from life experience. I look up to you.
One of Grimm’s well-known fables, The Frog King, tells of Heinrich, the faithful servant of the young prince, who preserves in his heart the prince’s human aspect until the spell that turned his lord into a frog is broken; until then he binds it with three iron bands to keep it from bursting in pain. When the prince is feed from the spell his joy shatters them.
When the tour ended, I thought: You’re preserving our humanity until the country wakes from the spell it’s under.
Regarding your comment about young people – I believe that educating the young to behave morally is a political act – and not only here, not only now.
With deep respect,
Yesterday we participated in Machsom Watch’s tour of the Nablus area, led by Dalya. It was wonderfully organized and extremely educational. We were amazed by how much she knew about the area and by the way she presented the material. Only by seeing with your own eyes can you understand how horribly and shamefully the state behaves in our name – behaviour for which we bear considerable responsibility. We want personally to express our gratitude and esteem. We’d also appreciate receiving information about upcoming tours in the Jerusalem area.
Keep up the good, important work!
Ilana and Erez Bar’on
At first you think you’re travelling through others’ wounds. In “their” villages, surrounded by fences and walls. “Their” roads, on which only you are allowed to drive. “Their” shops, locked or gaping open empty to the street. “Their” old people and children wandering among overflowing, uncovered garbage bins. Checkpoints at which “their” young people crowd, jammed together, on their way to or back from their jobs and destinations. Only later do you realize that the wounds through which you’re travelling are your own.
Those are the feelings, and in particular the idea that it’s someone else’s catastrophe, that you get from a “Machsom Watch Tour of the West Bank, 10.2.13.” “Tour” – that’s what they call that trip…
I’d always dreamed about the commando units, especially since my obligatory military service (years ago) – the Matkal commando, the Egoz commando; and others as well. I envied the guys who served in them – they were, and still are, the elite. They’d been in Entebbe, in the Beirut airport, in Tunis and also in Tze’elim. And lo and behold – I’m in the “checkpoint commando.” Finally, in the commando. Armed with a camera, surrounded by group of older women… fighters.
I recommend taking this trip – also to those who feel, and think and understand things differently. I recommend this tour of the West Bank to those who love people, even if they’re different, and who love the Land of Israel and express their love by trips to the Negev and the Galilee and the Achziv beach and the Carmel. The trip won’t be easy – but the Israel National Trail isn’t an easy route either. It will be challenging – not to your legs, nor to your physique, but to your soul. And to anyone who may still be able to change their mind.
One glance at the soldiers (you’re forbidden to photograph their faces) leaves no doubt how they feel. The private security guards “are doing their job.” How intently they’re doing it probably depends on the particular individual and on the relationship between employer and employee. A relationship which demands “doing the job perfectly.”
Now, in the evening, when it’s over, you can recall the ideas you had when you began the tour this morning – perhaps they’ve changed. But your feelings must change. You’re no longer indifferent, no longer complacent, no longer comfortable. Now you’re concerned, pained – in one way or another.
Hello Pitzi and Judith,
First of all thank you very much for the fascinating tour in the territories, I think you are doing a sacred job.
Unfortunately I was slightly disappointed that even I, who are not young, was among the youngsters who took the tour. My impression is that we are creating (because of the separation wall) a young generation of Palestinians that knows Jews only through their encounters with IDF and the settlers, and on the other hand a whole generation of young people on our side of the wall knows no Palestinians at all.
Besides knowing the other side, diminishing the fear and creating the possibility of a connection, it is extremely important that the public becomes aware of what's going on behind the wall. I suppose, Pitzi, that as a manager you probably organized tours to Poland. In our attitude to the Holocaust (although vastly different) we are angry with the German public who claimed they knew nothing about the Holocaust. We ask ourselves how is it possible that so many people did not know what was going on, about the extermination machine? The answer is simple, they simply did not want to know. On the other hand (again: vastly different) the wall enables many Israelis to say they know nothing about what's going on in the territories. I believe, as a descendant of a people who suffered persecution while the world stood by, we cannot "not know". Some might claim that the price the Palestinians are paying is justified, but at least they have to hear what they say before passing judgment.
Thank you again for exposing a little of what's happening in our neighboring planet.
These tours are essential for every Israeli who cares about the country’s future. Even if you know what goes on there, follow the news, there’s nothing like seeing it first-hand. The shame at being Israeli is greater when you see what’s happening with your own eyes.
Ending the occupation and establishing a Palestinian state should be Israel’s greatest interest, but unfortunately it isn’t on top of the Israeli governments’ lists of priorities. We’re paying with blood, and will continue doing so, literally.
Your work is extremely important and blessed, and the way you’ve been demonized is scandalous.
Last Saturday (11.5.13) we toured the West Bank with Pitzi and Nurit.
I can’t find words to thank you for your initiative and guidance.
There’s a reason for the expression, “You have to see for yourself.” You really do have to see for yourself, and in this case you have to look right at the reality we live in, which we usually prefer not to see, prefer to believe there’s no choice.
Thank you for the tour’s stimulating lesson.
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 at the people who live day by day this difficult situation, transforms written words in reality! thank you thank you a lot
back home in Germany I still think a lot of our tour to the West Bank (December 29th) and everything I have learned about the difficult situation. Thank you very much again! A few days after the tour took place Bernhard and I met a very interesting young Israeli in Jerusalem who works for the military waves radio station as part of his army service and is in charge of everything happening in the West Bank. He showed us Eastern Jerusalem which was again very interesting. We also talked a lot about what we had experienced on the tour and he told us that just recently a Palestinian in Kfar Qadum had died. It must have happened maybe two or three days after we were there. He said that it is being discussed whether it was natural death or whether the man died because of gas in his home that had been employed by the Israeli army... I was very moved by this.
Well, I just wanted to tell you that without the tour I would never have understood as much. Thank you! Next time I will be in Israel I would like to get into contact with you again.
With kind regards,
I went along to a Machsom Watch tour in January 2014 and it was a real eye-opener for me. While I thought I had an understanding of what everyday life might be like for people living in the West Bank, I really didn't. This tour showed me aspects I hadn't considered.
Our tour guide Daniela had extraordinary energy providing information and historical facts throughout the day, as well as fielding challenging questions from the group, which was made up of people with varying political views.
Machsom Watch clearly states it is opposed to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories, so as Daniela said at the beginning of the day, do not expect this to be a "balanced tour" (she suggests you also do a settler tour if you are looking for the view from the other side). But you will definitely walk away knowing a lot more about life in the Palestinian Territories than you will learn from watching nightly news bulletins.
I highly recommend this tour for anyone who is keen to move beyond the tourist spots on a trip to the Holy Land.
Monday, 24 March 2014
Pitzi and Nurit, shalom,
The work you’re doing is sacred, humane and moral. It cleanses us, removes from the Israeli public the taint of silence, denial and escapism.
The tour was fascinating. I consider myself one who knows what’s going on, involved in the issue: I was an active participant in the Paris talks after the Oslo agreement as the coordinator of the Israeli delegation to the negotiations.
I read B’Tselem’s reports and the newspaper accounts by Amira Hass and Gid’on Levy. But there’s no substitute for seeing and hearing at firsthand.
By showing us the awful sights, the dreadful sounds, the tremendous despair through which we drove you made this trip meaningful and significant, and you deserve the greatest respect for doing so. I keep telling friends and acquaintances about the tour. I hope some of them will take it also.
All my best, and thank you,