Tomorrow is the weekly day of demonstration in Bi’Lin. Unlike some demonstrations in Europe, here they are never dull. They do not consist of just marching from point A to point B. They will probably march as well, but we know that there will be soldiers and that they will use unreasonable force and weapons of various kinds against us. From the used materials I have seen around, like banners, it seems that they make creative props for every demonstration. Some times these are banners, some times they are something more.

A few men and boys come to the flat to work on tomorrow’s props. Some more internationals also come. H. tells us that the army have entered in the hotel where some of us go back to get a decent shower, drink alcohol or simply rest and talk with other foreigners. Apparently the soldiers were looking for Palestinians who do not have permission to be in Jerusalem. They searched the whole hostel but they could not find the people they were in theory looking for, so no arrests or beatings or killings were made. It could have been true that they were looking for some “illegal”, or it could have been just a routine harassment exercise.

The fact is they have not only revoked the permit that thousands of Palestinians used tohave to work in Israel, they also deny many Palestinians the right to “travel” to the territories not militarily occupied, i.e. recognised by both parties as Israel, and that included the whole of Jerusalem even though the international community still recognises East Jerusalem as part of the “Palestinian Territories”.

When the prop-makers finish, they show us a few videos of previous demonstrations. The Israeli soldiers never speak to the Palestinians in English in front of the cameras. This surprises me, because most of the conversations between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians I have seen have happened in English.

We follow what goes on in the videos thanks to the subtitles. In my opinion this video is not too edited but some editing work has been done. A soldier asks for some one, apparently a well-known activist who is not on the demonstration that the video is about. Then the tear gas makes its entrance. In the next shot, one Palestinian asks for the tear gas and other chemical weapons being shot at peaceful demonstration to stop. The Israeli soldier shouts in Hebrew what the subtitles translate as “Get rid of the foreigners first! Get the foreigners out!”

Of course the foreigners do not leave.

The videos finish and Israeli activists begin to arrive to spend the night here and attend the the demonstration tomorrow.

B., an Israeli born in Sweden, tells me how she could come here with more rights than the Palestinians have now. As a Jew, she had the right to come and live in some settlement specially prepared for immigrants like her at the expense of the land expropriations, as already explained here. The only little “problem” was that she had to learn Hebrew. But she tells me that she learned it in six months, because it is very easy. Now she masters it, she says, and she is learning Arabic, which is much more difficult; she has been learning it for years and she can not have a fluid conversation yet. Besides, it is difficult to practise it, because the Palestinians want to practise their English, or show off that they can speak Hebrew. Almost all Palestinians, she says, at least the men, can speak Hebrew, either because they have worked for the Israelis, when it was allowed, or because they have been in jail. Not so much the women. That’s why she likes to hang around with women and children, to speak in Arabic with them.

Now that I think about it, I have not encountered any Palestinian who can not at least give me directions in English. It might be because I have been to places where they are used to seeing foreigners and talking with us.

So B. had the right come and live in legal Israel or one of the “illegal” settlements specially prepared for immigrants like her thanks to the land thefts.

She has chosen to live in a more modest location and take every single Friday off to come and support this demonstration against an illegal wall – although, after a few months here, anyone would find it difficult to know what is legal and what not.

She seems to know a bit about the wall and the people building it. She says it is Palestinians themselves, having being deprived of their land, their livelihood, and then the right to work in Israel. when they are offered work as builders of the wall, they truly are desperate enough to accept the job. “There is not one single Israeli worker involved in the construction of the Wall, just the soldiers guarding it. So, yes, it is Palestinians themselves forced to build their own jail. The Israeli State is depriving the Palestinians of all dignity.”

She also tells me stories of other demonstrations in other villages against the Wall, where there weren’t any internationals or Israeli activists. In one of those, the Israeli soldiers killed four Palestinian demonstrators.

F. is French something of an economist, or similar, from the way she speaks. She says she has talked about Palestinian agriculture and farming with many Palestinian farmers and the conclusion is always the same: that Palestine has a lot of potential to be a rich Country, to develop from an excellent production.

I remember that in History lessons at school it was explained that when the Catholic King and Queen expelled the Jews and the Arabs from the kingdoms of Castilla and Aragon they had to allow one Arab family out of ten to stay in the Levante region because they were the ones who knew about farming. I can see that wisdom here too, in their irrigation systems, in how they keep their vegetable gardens in the conditions of deprivation imposed on them by the Israeli army… everything I have eaten here, specially in the villages, are the produce of their own land, and it is really excellent; the oil, the zahtar, the bread, the olives, the tangerines, the clementines, and other fruits whose names I will never learn … but as F. says, what is the point of all this, if the occupation forces do not allow to get any of these produce out of the country!

F. continues to say that what has happened since the arrival of the Israeli state is a continuous strangulation of the Palestinian economy; first they take away their land and make its inhabitants refugees, then they take away their water, then they put refugees and other destitutes to work for the occupying population, then they forbid this way of subsistence while they take away more land and more water, and all the way they do not allow any commerce with the outside world – or even with the occupying population.

And then I remember a settler telling us that all the aspirations of the Arabs are to fly away from the country to make a fortune elsewhere. As if.