Serene took her first trip in life at just 3 months old, traveling over 10,000 miles to the Middle East. She was celebrated by planting an olive tree, a symbol of peace, in the "Oasis of Peace," a community where Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians have made a determined effort to set an example for peace by living, working and educating their children together. I can't wait to visit her tree and watch it grows as she does for decades into the future. Thanks to Zel Lurie and all my friends at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam for making this moment one of the very best in my life.
Friday, February 4, 2011
Thursday, February 3, 2011
I am not a religious person, but there is something about walking in the Old City of Jerusalem, footsteps from the holiest sites in Christianity, Islam and Judaism, that is surreal. I am proud that both of my children have visited this city when their were just babies in my arms, and I hope they will return, again and again as they grow up.
Ramallah is different than New York. There is a giant wall that Israel built to separate it inhabitants from the rest of the world. Its not easy for tourists to visit and its people need to pass through checkpoints to exit.
But, otherwise, it isn't. Its vibrant downtown, nightlife, excellent restaurants, cultural offerings such as theater and movies, position as economic center of Palestine and its political center with dozens of government offices make it a center for the world.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Mommy blogs are meant to be sweet tributes to children and opportunities to brag about the most mundane things your little ones do, while showing off their cutest pictures. It is fun and challenging to jetset around the world with children, and in doing so I hope they will be instilled with a sense of deep curiousity, independence, cultural respect and political knowledge.
A visit to the West Bank is not a trip to Disney Land. The Separation-Apartheid Wall that acts as the barrier between the West Bank, Palestine and Israel is designed to imprison over 2 million Palestinian people. Taking my 3-month-old, daughter, Serene, through-and-around checkpoints is a privilege, because she is allowed to be pushed like cattle back-n-forth behind this wall. Palestinian children and their parents are locked behind it living under occupation in an oversize prison and have little hope that their situation will change in the near future.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Bethlehem is beautiful. I spent a summer studying Arabic and living with a Palestinian family when I was pregnant with Alex. It was a tense time politically in the region. My memories are of Palestinian families hiding in their homes as tanks patrolled the neighborhood, a child scratching his fingernails deep into my neck when guns' blasted, hundreds of young men lost without work waiting in the streets for something to change, and dozens of tourist shops empty without the busloads of visitors that use to take over the downtown.
This city of Christians now has a Muslim majority due to the occupation, and political as well as economic strangulation of its people by the Israeli government's policies. I took my little babies to this city, the birth place of the little baby Jesus. Both Alex and Serene visited the Church of the Nativity when they were less than three months old. These days, its hard to describe, but the city is less tense. When Israel opens its checkpoints, tourists still love to visit. Tall cement wall lock its people in like prison.
We tried to enjoy the tourist shops, hot tea on a rainy day, wonderful hospitality and hope for days when Serene, Alex, and all their cousins, will not need to walk through gates or be frisked by Israeli soldiers to come and go.