Posted December 6, 2012 by Cooper Point Journal in Letters & Opinion

Continuing Thoughts on Israel/Palestine

The Final Entry: A Summative Reflection and Looking Forward

The occupation is still happening, and now that I understand better U.S. complicity in human rights abuses in the region, I can’t stop thinking about it and trying to do what I can here in the U.S. and, more importantly, here on campus and in the community.

…Supporting Palestinians’ rights to self-determination doesn’t mean you are signing yourself up on a list for the destruction of Israel and greater harm to Israelis. What was deeply moving about our time in the West Bank was witnessing the majority of Palestinians engaged in non-violence through demonstrations, legal battles, and resistance through existence. The fault of the media is to only draw our attention to external forms of violence and ignore the structural violence that is afflicted on Palestinians on a daily basis in the occupation.

What does this structural violence look like? Imagine you are a farmer. You had a profitable olive orchard, but the separation wall built in 2003 cut your land in half and now you are barely able to keep food on the table. Settler children from a nearby settlement (mini-neighborhoods ranging from a couple hundred to a couple thousands Israeli citizens illegally on Palestinian land) throw rocks at you and your family when you are trying to harvest what is left of your land.

The Israeli court struck down your appeal for a permit to access your olive orchard on the other side of the wall. You are not allowed to build on your property, because of ‘security measures’ and the majority of your money goes to buying water from the Israeli water company because Israel controls all of the aquifers. You have to pass through a military checkpoint to get to the next major urban area and you are delayed about 2-5 hours each time because of long lines.

No one in your area is involved in violent protests. Neither you or your family has ever fought back, yet you find yourself subjected to humiliation from soldiers and neighbors, who never once stop to consider your own humanity. Your partner wants you to move…[but] this land has been in your family since the late 1800s. It is your home, these olive trees are like children, and you want your children to inherit this. You want to live in peace.

Structural violence means that every part of your life is impacted by a barrier of some sort: Denied equal access to education, land, water, food, political representation, cultural expression; it creates a life struggling to survive in a cage.

I ask that we continue to search for facts on the ground. That we listen to those struggling to have their voices heard…Israel inflicts a violent occupation that seeps through Palestinian life like a virus, killing them one by one, sometimes in small groups, sometimes in large bombs.

It kills them through shooting at protests when children throw rocks, when farmers try and harvest their recently confiscated fields, kills [them through] their children’s inability to graduate into a thriving economy by crushing Palestinians ability to even build one…

Israel has an imbalance of economical, political and military power in the region and has the responsibility to end the occupation if peace can ever be possible…We must recognize the human rights abuses and as a U.S. citizen, I must recognize, speak out and try to end the financial support we provide for these daily, silent attacks.

…On one of the days in the delegation, we tackled a field of olive trees trying to help finish the harvest with our host families, but were unable to finish. I felt embarrassed and ashamed that we were leaving so soon. One of the aunts saw that I had gotten very quiet and after I replied to her question as to why I was upset, she smiled and told me, “Oh, we will get the harvest done. It takes all of us, but we will do it. And it will take all of you, doing the work you’re doing, to truly help us.”

Elissa is eager to keep giving presentations about the delegation and can be reached at elissagoss8[at] if you would like to get together and chat or set-up a presentation with a group or program.

*If you would like to hear more first-hand accounts, check out Evergreen alum Maya Amber Harris’ blog at: who was on the same delegation and is continuing her time in Israel/Palestine.

By Elissa Goss