Professor of Biology and Chemistry
University of Cincinnati Clermont College,
Batavia OH 45103
The barrier wall erected by Israel
is in the foreground.
21 July 2006
illegal Israeli mining and beyond,
newly constructed Israeli settlement
The people of this brave village stand as an example to the world of how non-violent resistance can successfully resist injustice and military might. Israel has been confiscating all "unoccupied" Palestinian land. Israel defines "unoccupied" as any land on which no occupied structure exists. Thus, olive orchards, vinyards, agricultural land, grazing land are all being confiscated. These ancient Bil'im olive orchards, lovingly tended for many centuries (see the terracing in the third picture) are all officially "unoccupied":
Once "unoccupied" lands are confiscated, Israel nearly always refuses to grant building permits to Palestinians, but readily grants them to Israeli settlers to erect new settlements, thus ever increasing Israeli lands and ever diminishing Palestinian lands.
This process was being inflicted on the village of Bil'im, a village of 1,500 residents. They embarked on a long series of imaginative non-violent protests. Israel's response was to occupy the village, place it under curfew, tear gas the citizens, including tossing tear gas into their mosque.
I stayed with the Samara family, and was treated to feast after feast.
They were the most generous and congenial hosts one could imagine--demonstrating
that famous Middle Eastern hospitality is indeed world class.
Children of Bil'im, when offered crayons, drew, with no prompting what
so ever, scenes of Israel occupation, and the construction of the barrier
wall. Behind the Samara home, children played soccer on a rocky field.
We got historical background on the local resistance to the occupation
from a number of experts.
Towards evening, the Earlham group hiked out along a ridge towards an
Israel mining operation wich is in violation of international law.
We passed through the remnants of ancient olive orchards (many were chain sawed or bulldozed
down. Many of the most ancient trees (known by name to the Palestinians) were stolen by the Israelis, to be replanted
in the new Israeli settlements as decorative trees in traffic circles ...). Protestors chained themselves in the trees to prevent them from being chainsawed. You should see the video of this rape of the land.
The one you see below is at least 1,000 years old. The next image is a hole from which an acient olive tree has been stolen.
You can see the barrier erected by Israel which separates the citizens
of Bil'im off from their agricultural land. We passed through an
Israeli checkpoint (no pictures allowed) You can see the village
of Bil'im in the background. We got a lecture on the history of the
Israeli take over of the land from a Fatah candidate for local elected
office. (He was not elected--the people voted for Hamas candidates
out of protest of corruption in the Fatah party, and because Hamas took
many positive steps to assist citizens and students with the problems they
If you look towards the west, you see the new construction of several
new Israeli settlements. The 3rd and 4th pictures were taken the
next day and show also a huge mining operation with Israelis operate, in
violation of the Geneva Convention which states that occupying forces will
not exploit or take natural resources from the occupied country:
After Israel declaired the agricultural land "unoccupied", the citizens
of Bil'im were able to bring rudimentary building materials onto the site
and erect a shelter. Since its erection, the shelter has been
occupied 24/7, making the land officially "occupied."
At sunrise the next morning, I found an egg "factory" next door, and
a view of the VERY twisty-turny road we traversed on in our SPEEDY taxi
to Bil'im. A trip to remember!
Mr. Samara and I spent some "quality time" before breakfast touring
his garden, the first plant is Mulukhiyya, a green used as seasoning in a number of Palestinian dishes. The second image is zahtar, a delicious form of thyme, served with sesame and salt
by dipping pita in olive oil and then in dried zahtar--yum) picking okra.
He demonstrated his technique for grafting grape vines. We visited
his daughter-in-laws goats and were then were served a typical (lavish)
We took a tour of Bil'im, past policital slogans painted on walls (this
one promotes Hamas) and visited the mosque into which Israel had tossed
Eating again???? A fabulous lunch indeed, with the proud patriarch
beaming next to his VERY hard working wife.
I was fortunate to be able to see Palestinian White Cheese being prepared
by Mr. Samara's daughter-in-law. This cheese is typically served
every morning with breakfast. I will soon post the recipe on my
Young men of the Samara family with which I stayed, including Walied
Samara (right) who taught me several new steps to the Debki--the national
dance of Palestine. THANK YOU Walied--I loved the dancing!
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