Nicole Gevirtz Reporting from Palestine. July 29th 2014


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Hilwa. Ate my first Palestinian hilwa  Soft and sweet and lovely and it’s like silky sand in your mouth…

Sand in my mouth. I’ve eaten this before. Sand in my mouth.

I’m 10 years old. I’m forced to go to my 10 millionth bat mitzvah. This was my Hell as a child. Going to a bat mitzvah meant putting on an uncomfortable dress, being stuck in a car for 5 hours, going to a strange place, sitting through the service, forced to listen to the awful music at the party, the obnoxious adults dancing, the obnoxious DJ yelling, I don’t know anyone, I’m painfully uncomfortable, I’m crying in the bathroom, I want to go home, I hate this shit, everyone is rich and full of themselves, everything is blue and white and there’s pictures of Israel everywhere and I don’t know why because I don’t know what the fuck that is, I had to go through this 10 million times, “Sweetheart, you’re almost 13, do you want a bat mitz-“ “GO FUCK YOURSELF!”

Bat mitzvah #857464674: There’s a mountain of cake candy something on the table. I reach up and pull some back down under the table with me (yes, I was hiding under the table; it was dark and all the obnoxious rich people left me the fuck alone). I take a bite; sand in my mouth.

… you Zionist sons of bitches. Did you fucking steal the hilwa too? You Zionist sons of bitches; that one bite of hilwa took me back to age 10. Did you fucking steal this? 

My host family opens up to me and tells me about how, in 2002, the IDF raided their home. A handful of Jewish death squads, with 2 german shepards, comes into their home, makes them stay in the bedroom for 3 hours while they bring in and interrogate one of the neighbor’s kids for throwing stones, force him to become a collaborator otherwise he gets jail time. 

Hamza al Khatib… was the state’s version of an honor killing.

This is my last week in Beit Lahem. I go to Nazareth in a few days to help out at a day camp for kids before heading home. Relieved; I’ll miss the visit to Hebron. I cannot witness that horror. I do not want to see it. Ever. 

How am I gonna say goodbye to my host family? How the fuck am I gonna get through that?

There are 400,000 Christians in the Palestinian diaspora. I’m looking online at Eastern Orthodox churches in the Philadelphia area that I could join.

By 3 PM the Israelis have murdered another 100 people in Gaza. Another 200 are injured. That’s just this morning and early afternoon. The TV is a bloodbath; an assembly line of dead babies, all broken teeth and burnt skin and shattered bones, grown men reduced to sobbing like children, and I am sobbing on the inside because it takes too much energy to do it on the outside.

“They want a Third Intifada, but you saw in Ramallah; they have nothing to fight with.”
“Now we are just treating each other as numbers.”
“Neekol, how do you think we solve the big broblem?”
“Democracy. No more Jewish state. Equal rights.”

A Gazan woman, age 50, a Christian, was killed. My little brother, Illyas, sees this on facebook. He sees Palestinian Muslims pray for her soul, and then he sees Egyptian and Tunisian Muslims say, “No, she is not a real martyr because she was not Muslim.”

“Neekol, why US support Israel? What do they get out of this?”
I explain the military-industrial complex as simply as I can in under 2 minutes.
“Neekol, for 10 years, my family has been having Americans here. They come here, they know nothing. You come here. You know things. Why?”
“Jews are acting like Nazis and it’s an abomination before God and humanity.”
“Oh, okay… Obama can’t do anything.”
“He’s a coward.”
“It’s the system… Jimmy Carter said so many great things… after he was president…”
“It’s the system.”
“Part of me… I feel bad for the Palmach.”
“The people… they were taught their whole lives that this was their land. They didn’t know any better.”
“Oh no… they knew. They knew you were here. Trust me. They knew you were here. The JNF trees. They try to cover you up. Those ugly trees stick out real bad. They not fooling anyone.”
“But they smart because they make the people believe what they want… I used to say ‘yes, we have hope.’ I can’t say that anymore! Hahahaha!”

Back to the office. The Palestinian tinfoil hat came out REAL bad today and it was VERY ugly. Brace yourselves…

George Saadeh. Director of one of the Greek Orthodox high schools here. Deputy mayor of Beit Lahem municipality. In 2003 he almost lost his life and his whole family when the Israelis pumped his car full of bullets at a flying checkpoint. He was full of bullets, so was his wife and 2 children in the back seat. His 12 year old daughter died on the spot. All of Beit Sahour was terrorized by this. Saadeh is begging the Israelis to get him an ambulance. They are stalling, telling him to wait. His family is bleeding out. They all start screaming until finally an IDF ambulance comes to them. 

… but George isn’t talking about his reconciliation efforts with Israeli peace groups, or his family’s strength and perseverance. George is hysterical. George is talking about ISIS and the Christians in Mosul. George has lost his mind. George is a Basharist. George thinks the Israelis are behind ISIS. George thinks the US was behind 9-11. George thinks the Syrian revolution is a lie. George smears the Ukrainians as well. Yes, he went there. George won’t shut the fuck up. If I had run into George my first day here I would’ve packed up and left. It was a freakshow. “It’s on the net! You can read it! It’s on the net!” One of the program coordinators actually has to cut him off because he sounds like a mental patient. The other volunteers can’t wrap their heads around any of the insane shit that came out of his mouth.

He’s still talking. He’s still talking about ISIS, Mosul, Baghdadi is secretly an Israeli, the Egyptian Ikhwan who burned the churches worked for Obama, there were Nazis in Ukraine, he won’t stop, he won’t stop.

He denied the Syrian Holocaust, he denied the Arab Spring, he denied Ukrainian self-determination, he denied the crimes of Russian imperialism, he aligned himself with Assad, “Our politics are very sophisticated! Read between the lines!”

It was ugly. It was the ugliest thing I’ve seen here. Uglier than Aida camp. It was living human garbage. That is what he has been reduced to; Zionism almost murdered his whole family, and this is the shell of a human being that is left. Thank God I didn’t have to hear him speak my first day here. I would’ve left. I would’ve packed up and left.

Back home. The TV is a bloodbath. Lots of different Arab pop singers together. A promo video of gore and pain; really nasty footage of the carnage committed by Americans in Iraq, by Americans at Gitmo, by Israelis all over Palestine, spliced with Hezbollah coming to save the day. Torture, pain, humiliation, crying and screaming men from Baghdad to Gaza, child murder by Americans and Brits and Israelis, then… Hezbollah flag, the liberation of southern Lebanon… then… 9-11. As if to say, “You got what you deserved.”

I’m in an insane asylum, and Zionism has made it as such; exploit your pain, deny someone else’s, exploit your pain, deny someone else’s… and no one comes to the rescue. No one comes to save Gaza. No one comes to save Yarmouk. 

The cycle will break, the cancer will recede, when the Jewish state is dismantled. It will be dismantled when the US decides to go rape another part of the world that has more oil.

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