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Monday, August 8, 2011

Palestine-Israel A Stunning Tale of Peace, Water And Walls

What the Arab world has been experiencing in the last months has been a source of inspiration for the entire world. Seeing millions rise up against arbitrary and dictatorial government has, hopefully, given the rest of us the motivation to keep fighting for a democratic and dignified life. These uprisings have revolved around a very specific rhetoric which is closely connected to their demand for democracy; the call for a dignified life, the need to reinstate one’s pride, and the desire to be the actors rather than subjects of their own history. Although recently the Arab revolutions have taken the front stage of the media, the Palestinian cause represents all such demands at the highest level. Their struggle to establish a state on their own land has been driven by similar causes. What the Palestinians in the occupied territories have been subjected to, above everything else, is the inability to control their own futures.

Now, they might move much closer toward achieving this dream of self-determination.

At least, they will do their best. The recent announcement of “Palestine 194” is an indication of this. Palestine 194, a plan to organize mass marches against Israeli occupation, will occur on September 20. The hope is to attract attention to the natural desire of the Palestinians to have a state. The hope is to show those who will vote on the fate of the Palestinians, that the answer is actually already very clear.

Although the answer may be clear to most of us, the Palestinians require a recommendation from the Security Council in order for the issue to be addressed in the United Nations. Since this seems unlikely, some expect the Palestinians to target non-member state status; they will be recognized as a state by the UN General Assembly but will not have the right to vote.

Adversely affected by the expansion of Israeli settlements and the Israeli separation wall, Palestinians from Wadi Fukin and Israelis from the local village of Tsur Hadassah got together to resolve the issue. One filmmaker who captured their campaign back in 2010 is now hoping to get raise enough funds to take their message of ecological peace to other villages across Palestine and Israel.

Wadi Fukin is a Palestinian valley which has been designated by UNESCO as the best preserved natural heritage site of its kind in the West Bank. However the ongoing expansion of settlements, which has taken water from the valley, as well as contamination from raw sewage has threatened its future existence.

When villagers heard of plans to build a wall separating them from their Israeli neighbours, it was the final straw. They got together with Israelis from the local village of Tsur Hadessah to campaign against it on ecological reasons. A lengthy campaigned ensued (lasting over three years) consisting of protests and petitions and in the end their case won out at the High Court.

As Joshka Wessels, the director behind the film project, states in an article at Palestinenote.com: “The building of the Wall has now been frozen based on environmental grounds. How long this freeze will last is unclear. But the fact that they were successful in stopping the Wall gives some little hope.” Indeed when Wessels heard about the story, she realised it was a unique story of friendship in a hostile environment and wanted to tell the story to a wider audience.

“I hope by telling their story, viewers realise that an important part of people living inside the Israeli-Palestinian conflict really want a genuine peace,” she adds. “They are just like you and me. They want a sustainable future for their children.

The project which is named ‘Valley of Hope and Despair’ also hopes to highlight the fact the damage done to the environment will affect both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The environment knows no borders and if there is no awareness of the severe damage to the environment done by the Israeli occupation, the consequences might lead to an ultimate lose-lose situation for both sides and both peoples.

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