June 18, 2009 - Visiting Sadaam, a beautiful mural and a brewery

Dear Friends,
Today I had the pleasure of visiting our first scholarship recipient, Sadaam, in his office at the Red Crescent Society headquarters in Ramallah. The building is architecturally quite interesting and very beautiful. Sadaam is the accountant for the restaurant and hotel that is housed in it. He is very happy with his job. He says that sometimes, if he can’t go home due to checkpoints or military activity, he can stay in the hotel free of charge. But he much prefers to go home to Deir Ibzi’a which is only 15 minutes away by taxi if the coast is clear.

On the walk from the Red Crescent Society to catch a taxi I passed a cultural center that had amazingly beautiful murals that I’ve posted on my blog. You can also see pictures of me visiting the Taybeh Brewery in Taybeh which is the only village left in Palestine that is 100% Christian. The brewery was founded in 1994 by two brothers who returned to Palestine after Oslo filled with hope, like so many Palestinians, that a Palestinian state would eventually become a reality. They wanted to contribute to it and also fulfill their dream of bringing micro brewed beer to the Middle East. Despite the drastically reduced and continually shrinking Christian population in Palestine (Muslims don’t drink alcohol) along with the enormous obstacles that Israel imposes on Palestinian exports, the company is surviving. And the beer is extremely good! (Even though it is a pilsner and I prefer IPAs.) Check out their website: www.taybehbeer.com

Tomorrow I will participate at a demonstration in Azzun Atma, a village west of Hares. It has the misfortune to be on the “wrong” side of the wall (in the seam zone). In the map attached here you can see the area of the village shown in yellow. The green dotted line is the dividing line between the West Bank and Israel. The thick red lines are the already completed sections of the wall and the thick black and white lines are the planned route of the wall. As you can see, not only is Azzun Atma overwhelmed by settlements and completely cut off from the rest of the West Bank, but soon it will be completely enclosed on all sides. The big red circle with the horizontal white line is a checkpoint and the only access into the village. Some people say that to describe the situation here, all you really need are maps.

The surrounding settlements of Azzun Atma throw their garbage down on the village and 1-2 times per week they dump their sewage as well. The settlers have vandalized the school during its construction. Furthermore, the school is having problems hiring staff who are able to get permits from Israel to pass through the checkpoint. The principle is convinced that Israel wants the school closed.

So my day tomorrow feels a bit ominous. Fortunately I had a fun day today!

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