Far'ata – Hebrew classes and Crochet for women
On our way to the occupied territories we stopped at Rachel A.’s home (she’s sick); she filled our large car with bundles of goods for Z., our friend in ‘Azzun. It’s become routine for us to bring him clothing, household goods, toys, etc. on almost every trip. From there we sped to Far’ata. We’d told them we’d be a little late, but it turned out that all the women came very late. Perhaps the longer day encourages lazy afternoons. Only seven eventually appeared for the Hebrew class and only three for handicrafts.
They very much want to learn to read, and they’re succeeding. They surprised me (this is the third reading lesson) when they read “love” [ahava] correctly. Even radio announcers say a’ava. But, nevertheless, I’m trying to convince them it’s more important to learn to speak, to express themselves. Some are embarrassed. They understand what I say, and my questions, but it’s hard for them to reply. I decided that would be the today’s focus – a simple, practical conversation. At the end of the lesson we talked about Land Day which had been commemorated in the school.
We drove from Far’ata to Huwwara where we met two residents of the Ramallah area who had to sign in an attorney’s presence a request to cancel their Shabak blacklisting so they could work in Israel. It was really stupid of me to make them come to Huwwara. Next time I’ll travel to where they live.
Again we heard about an “innocent lad” who, during exam time at school, is being pressured by the Shabak to “name friends;” he’ll suffer if he refuses. He didn’t name them. Is that why he’s been blacklisted? His father, who has an Israeli work permit, is afraid that his son’s request will lead to his own permit being taken away, and then how will the family live? What’s the connection, you might ask? But the father’s fear is very understandable.
And that’s not all. The father, an educated man, a teacher, told me he’s afraid to be in Huwwara lest the army arrive and ask what he’s doing there. I behaved terribly, asked him what he feared. He said that a person from the Ramallah area has no business being in Huwwara.
You see – there’s no need for arrest, curfew, beatings, starvation, overt humiliation. Denying freedom of movement – that most basic right - is enough for a man who says he’d never been arrested, or interrogated, or questioned, and had never joined a demonstration. Just an “ordinary” man, a teacher, an honest person, who says, standing alongside his twenty year-old son, that he’s afraid to travel in his own country.
Perhaps it was the very “Yekke” home in which I grew up – but that conversation very difficult for me.