Marie Campbell is a retired University of Victoria professor who left on December 12, 2002 to spend a month in Palestine doing observational work with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Observers from Europe and North America act not only as witnesses, but also provide a measure of protection and emotional support to Palestinians.
Jayyous to Jerusalem – January 13, 2003
As I prepared to leave Jayyous, Mike Hornbrook, CBC reporter, called to say he could come (to Jayyous) on Sunday. So I scurried around locating my proposed interviewees and cancelling my taxi to Jerusalem. Mike offered me a ride down in his armoured car. The Radio-Canada reporter, Hughes Poulin, accompanied Mike, as well as a young Palestinian interpreter – a BeirZet University grad who also commented on the Palestinian situation from his Perspective, which was interesting and useful.
Mike and Hughes’s reports will be broadcast soon and I asked them to let me know when. Mike seemed to think that he would incorporate some of the Jayyous story with other material he has been collecting from Hebron. They will appear in news broadcasts, I gather. We spent a long afternoon talking to people and then a long return voyage trying to get to an Israeli highway from the West Bank, going through fields, etc. to get past blocked Palestinian roads. And finally made it.
I felt very sad to leave my Palestinian family in Jayyous. I haven’t told you much about THEM, but I have come to feel very close to them, in their difficulties. Today, (Monday) I went back into the West Bank by shared taxi from Jerusalem to Romallah to meet the BeirZet University prof, Rita Giocamen, who runs the Community Health and Policy Institute there. I found her working in the converted garage she has begged from a friend. I took some photos of this little space, which is a beehive of activity for about 10 people (faculty). They are working here because getting out to the campus has become next to impossible.
Rita’s husband is an activist who started an organization (initials are GIPP) that brings internationals to Palestine on study tours, a slightly different concept from ISM’s more hands-on work. Rita’s Institute is very grassroots, existing on donated funds. She is collaborating with a Queen’s University group to study youth issues in Palestine. You can imagine that children suffer from living in the chaos that I have been describing. And unless they are worked with, their potential to become good citizens is doubtful.
Rita says that she works with IDRC (a Canadian research institute) but has given up trying to work with CIDA, because its policy is inflexible and “made-in Canada”, rather than working from a grassroots basis, which she has come to believe is the only way for good work to be done. I could identify with this perspective and want to follow up on it when I get home.