About this Blog

"Ordinary People" is something of an intentional misnomer. I live and work with Palestinians practicing nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation. They are doing things that are hardly "ordinary": committing themselves to active nonviolence and to loving their enemies -- following the commands of One who was anything but ordinary. And yet, the Palestinians with whom I work are also very ordinary -- they are not some kind of spiritual superheroes/superheroines who do things most folks can't do. They are simply ordinary people daily committing themselves to living a higher calling -- a calling of love and active nonviolence.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Electricity for Flowers, Not People

The Jordan Valley is a place where Israeli flowers have electricity and Palestinian people do not.

Located in the east, along the Jordan River, the Jordan Valley comprises approximately 25 percent of the land in the West Bank or Occupied Palestine. In previous times, landowners were known as “princes”, because of the availability of water and the fertility of the land.

Today, the Jordan Valley is a land of contrasts. There are Israeli settlements and farms that exist side-by-side (and sometimes through) Palestinian villages and farms. Israeli settlements have homes made of stone or concrete, with space to grow. Palestinian villages are often filled with homes made of tarp and scrap metal (making the homes cold in the winter and hot in the summer.) In some areas electric lines crisscross Palestinian villages, and water pipe lines run through them. But often Palestinians have no access to this infrastructure; they are for the Israeli settlements nearby. The Israeli authorities have fenced in the water pumps, so Palestinians can’t “steal” the water beneath their villages. However, the most striking example of racist distribution of resources is the Israeli flower plantations next to Palestinian villages. Flowers have rows of lights hanging over them, to make them bloom earlier for export to Europe. Yet the Palestinians living next to these farms cannot tap into these electric lines.

In sum, Israel encourages the growth of the Israeli settlement population. At the same time, the Israeli government attempts to force Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley off their land through the demolition of Palestinian homes, refusal of permission to build new homes and fix roads, and the control of water, electricity, transport of produce to markets. Additionally, the Israeli government refuses to allow Palestinians who do not have an address in the Jordan Valley to visit there.

Yet as in the rest of Palestine, the Israeli occupation does not have the final word. Palestinian communities are organizing in nonviolent resistance to Israel’s systematic oppression. By building schools for their communities (sometimes in defiance of the Israeli government), and providing electricity for themselves, by insisting on their right to remain in the Jordan Valley, some Palestinian communities are nonviolently resisting the forces of the Israeli Occupation intent on removing them.

For more information, please see the Electronic Intifada report: Israel Plundering the Jordan Valley.

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