Sansana (Meitar Crossing), South Hebron Hills, Susiya
Meeting with participants in the pre-army program from Moshav Hatzeva.
We met them at 08:30 at the turn to Susya.
A bus came with 55 students who arrived from Gush Etzion after spending the Sabbath with families.
Their course about Judea and Samaria (which doesn’t even try to camouflage its approach; they don’t add, for example, “the occupied territories” in parentheses) lasts five days, of which one is devoted to meeting with Palestinians and left-wing groups. The allocation of time indicates the orientation. Therefore, it’s important to have them meet as many Palestinians as possible and hear their stories. That’s why we came to Susya where Nasser and ‘Azam told them of their experiences (Nasser ‘s speaking in the short video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNXXXhFoA2Y
Since these youths lack so much information it’s sometimes necessary to supplement what the Palestinians say with facts.
The questions the youths ask deal primarily with Palestinian incitement, the right of return, Hamas, the entire Arab world, how can they be trusted. They listened, but the answer to almost every question became a short speech presenting the opposite opinion. The main message we tried to get across was that they mustn’t demonize every Arab and assume they’re a terrorist, and that of course the Jewish terrorists are only a minority of a minority…
And all of it in a positive atmosphere, attentive, without belligerence. We spent two hours at Susya, during which we also received a glass of tea.
From there we drove to Khirbet Tuwwani. Jum’a, our friend, had a mishap and couldn’t come so we spent another two hours talking to the students.
We waited for the soldiers to escort the children from school and the students also spoke with the soldiers.
The youths asked how, as leftists, we feel in the current political atmosphere.
What to do about illegal construction, and why don’t they receive permits.
Why aren’t values taught in Palestinian schools.
What political agreement do we forsee.
How can you trust Arabs.
What about what Razi Barkai says?
The trick is constantly to remember how young they are, what is the cumulative effect of 50 years of occupation, not be belligerent and tell as many jokes as possible…
At the end of the day we opened a crack; I, for one, don’t expect their attitudes to change…but they listened, really listened. And at the end gave us a box of dates and this card and promised the next group of participants would also meet with us.
On our way back, next to the Meitar checkpoint we saw a large vehicle belonging to the Nahshon unit of the Prison Service bringing back people who’d been in Israel illegally. And again the same story: the Palestinians’ possessions remained at the prison. This time there was a youth from Samu’a whose NIS 486 hadn’t been returned (a huge amount, for him). Since he wasn’t yet 17 he’d been in Ofek youth prison near Tel Mond. They gave him a receipt but how can he go obtain the money? He won’t get an entry permit to Israel. The only way is to obtain power of attorney from him and then go to the jail and ask for the money – we exchanged phone numbers and will handle it – but the catch is upsetting and annoying. I wonder how much cash that isn’t theirs is held by the Prison Service?