Monday, 23 May 2011
Chapter 59 Little boxes
Settlements loom large as an exacerbating factor here. They're everywhere. Creeping insidiously on the hilltops.
They all look the same. Red roofs atop of beige houses. Easy to set up, easy to transport. Settlements are notorious for appearing overnight.
Every time I see one the refrain to the theme song from Weeds plays through my head:
"Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same"
There are certain benefits to living in a settlement; tax breaks, free education, subsidized mortgages and other similar things.
The settlements are guarded by walls and checkpoints. They are connected to Israel and other settlements by special roads only accessible to Israeli license plated cars.
It makes for an exceedingly difficult environment. There is violence in both directions between settlers and Palestinians and the situation is fraught.
It is a problem. No doubt. I just want to give a little nod to the humanity of people just trying to make do.
Our various oh-no-we're-lost hiking bloopers have resulted in a number of conversations with locals to the area who tend to think we're settlers.
Without fail we've been greeted with a hearty 'shalom'. Once they realize I'm Arab and my colleagues are Western the language changes but the friendly sentiment remains.
In our last hike we were offered by rides by passing Palestinians who thought we were lost settlers.
Our 10 year old guide in Sebastiya spoke of playing with a child from a neighboring settlement whose parents were touring the Roman ruins.
It is a problem. No doubt about it. I just wanted to give a little nod to the humanity of people just trying to make do