This is Hebron in the West Bank.
It also happens to be a Jewish holy site named after Abraham as well.
Because of course Judaism and Islam (and Christianity) are fundamentally linked with Abraham. aljazeera.com/news/2016/02/r…
I mean, let's face it: Bethlehem in the West Bank is the site of some pretty important religious moments.
This is the Israeli military against local students and children armed with rocks.
They claim historic ownership from the time of Abraham, so it's legit.
That they did is nothing short of the most amazing diplomatic hat trick of all time.
(see: North Korea and Iran today for the worst.)
This is deep in Palestine. This isn't East Jerusalem, or the outskirts of Israel. The IDF is operating in the downtown of one of the major cities.
This is a photo of the chain link fence that separates the settlers above from the Palestinians below.
Soldiers staring down at you around every major meeting between the settlers and locals. But they're protecting the settlers.
We were unhindered, even though it was Shabbat.
The soldiers weren't worried about the Palestinian shooting either them or us; they were worried about being seen as benevolent guardians or hostile oppressors.
It was jarring, to say the least.
He would NEVER have posed for this picture without being surrounded by a bunch of sympathetic foreigners, who would have immediately called every single international news outlet they could had anything happened.
And it is deep in the West Bank.
Plus a very depressing kid, whose life sucks worse than all of ours.
The other option, of course, is that he's not still among the living. Highly possible. Things got much worse after I left.
However, my brain is full of stories, facts, and tidbits. My husband is also a font of information.
I found this photo of my bedroom in Birzeit. Study abroad in the West Bank isn't an extended spa vacay.
It will not disappoint.
You're behind and getting a "C" in class, but whatever.
Needless to say, it's not as easy for the Palestinians to travel.
LOOK AT THIS PLACE. Stunning.
During the relative peace --with some incidents to be sure, but a general calm overall due to the Oslo accords...
To be clear, the bombings helped NO ONE. Israeli civilians were killed in horrific ways, and then Palestinian civilians would be oppressed in horrific ways as retribution for the bombings.
Security for Israel, for one.
They started building hotels in Gaza. WHICH WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO CONSIDER. There was construction in the towns.
Virtually every last Palestinian student was studying engineering in some capacity because they were all going to build their future state.
I woke my husband up from a pay phone and a phone card (remember those?) and talked to him for 3 minutes.
Well, the international students did. The Palestinian students all started making their slow way back to the towns they were from; school for them was cancelled.
It started slowly; it had been awhile and there were a little rusty.
But the American woman who ran the program, who was the world's worst point person and organizer, was completely losing her mind.
The refrigerator shocked us every time we opened it.
So, no. We had not heard from her.
But after the bombing the first areas to be closed were the biggest borders, including between Jordan and the West Bank.
First it was a few days.
We'd see the organizer and ask where she was: still stuck in Amman.
It was like the dead guy in Yossarian's tent in Catch-22. First we had a roommate, and then she disappeared, leaving everything.
It doesn't end satisfactorily: Hallmark of living in crazy oppressive situations. But there it is.