Artas Demonstration

Dear friends and family,
We went to a demonstration today in Artas, a village near Bethlehem. I have to confess that when we were trying to decide whether to go there or to the demonstration in Bi’lin, the factor that tipped us was a description in a Palestinian Tour Guide book that spoke of Artas’ beauty and its tourist attractions: A convent and a Palestinian Ethnological Museum.

The demonstration was probably the most beautiful one I have been to in Palestine. The breath-taking beauty of the land and the village was only part of the reason. A man named Awad organized the demonstration because he is losing his lands to the settlements on the hilltops above his village. Artas has a long and wide wadi (valley) that is very rich agriculturally. The village is famous for lettuce. (Unfortunately the Lettuce Festival is not scheduled during my time here.) The Settlers want to use the wadi for a drainage system for the settlement. Awad wasn’t sure what kind of drainage but he told us he was sure it wasn’t going to be nice. (Alluding to sewage.) He led a small group of Israelis and Internationals to his land. Of course we were stopped by a line of soldiers in riot gear. Awad and other Palestinians made beautiful speeches to the soldiers explaining their belief that they were all brothers and they all just wanted to live in peace. Awad told them that he just wanted to go to his land and pick some of his apricots. Of course they didn’t let him. After awhile we left.

After the demo Beth and I walked around the village with Awad. We told him we wanted to visit the convent. (The museum was closed.) While we were walking to the convent, Awad told us that the convent was allowing the Israeli’s to build a tunnel under their land for the settler’s drainage. He told us that the Israeli’s are being very careful not to adversely affect the convent’s land too much because they don’t want to piss off Rome. (I’m paraphrasing here.) He had tried to enlist the help of the convent with the village’s struggle. He went to talk to a nun who had been his teacher when he was in kindergarten. But she refused to help him. As long as the convent or the convent’s lands are not being threatened, the nuns there apparently don’t care about what happens to the lands of the village.


Awad and his son
Artas Wadi
Artas Lettuce
Three Soldiers in Riot Gear
Soldier On Hill Overlooking Demo
Artas Convent
Artas Nun

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