Thursday, January 01, 2009

At-Tuwani: Hope - A New Year Reflection
By Janet Benvie
27 December 2008

As I write this, advent and Christmas are over. The new Christian year has
begun, the new calendar year is about to begin - Gregorian and Hijri*. It
is a time for looking forward - to the new year, the lengthening of the
days again and, in due time, the earth's new growth in spring.

Here in At-Tuwani I see hope and new growth everywhere I look. In the
midst of the Israeli occupation and its attendant violent oppressions
imposed on the villagers, I see such amazing signs of hope.

Just south of At-Tuwani, in Humra valley, a family has planted a new olive
grove. On the rocky hillside they have created a small walled 'garden'.
The olives they planted are Roman variety they told us - around four times
more expensive than the common variety, but superior and longer lasting. A
carefully crafted stone wall surrounds this new olive grove. A little
lower in the same valley other villagers have repaired a wall around an
existing grove. Considerable time and great care was taken with the work,
and the result is attractive, but practical, new stone walls.

As I walk around the village I see numerous families undertaking home
repairs and extensions. Some are re-building demolished homes, others
building new homes. One family who returned this summer to re-build their
home, demolished by the Israeli military in 2004, is walling in small
garden areas around their new house and planting trees and shrubs. Another
family, who is repairing and extending their home, is carefully building a
stone outer wall to match the stonework of the original house.

It takes hope for the future to build a new home when the occupying power
has already threatened all the houses in your village with demolition. It
takes hope for the future to invest time and money in olive groves and

As we enter the new year, my hope for the future is that the world's
politicians (the quartet of the European Union, the United Nations, Russia
and the USA), will recognize Israel's occupation for what it is - a
brutal, oppressive and immoral act - and will stop their military funding
to this repressive state. My hope for the future is that people around the
world will say to Israel "enough" and will boycott this immoral state in
the same way so many people boycotted apartheid South Africa.

My hope for the future is that peace with justice shall prevail. Living in
At-Tuwani nurtures that hope.

For photos of some of the walls and gardens, go to:

* The Gregorian calendar is used almost universally, with 12 calendar
months in each year. The Hijri calendar is used by Muslims. It is based on
lunar months, and is 11 days shorter than the Gregorian. The new year
Gregorian year will be 2009; the new Hijra 1430.

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