Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Morning with Vivien

I first met Vivien (I think) in Jenin in 2010. She had just taken a position with the Palestinian Fair Trade Association and was "orienting" internationals to this wonderful collective of Palestinian Farmers and the recently-built Canaan Fair Trade facility in Burgin, just outside Jenin. I met her a couple other times and, when preparing for this trip, wrote to arrange a meeting. I learned she was living in Bethlehem in her family home. What I also learned was that she had produced a wonderful film called The People and the Olive: The Story of the Run Across Palestine (the people and the I commend it to you unreservedly. These young people (from my elevated position, most everyone younger than me) and the millions like them are the hope of our significantly screwed up world - and they deserve all the support we can give them.

A conversation for which I "scheduled" an hour (maybe a bit more) easily stretched to two+. Vivien is a bright, very savvy, engaging woman. She works with IMEU (Institute for Middle East Understanding), is a consultant, journalist and photographer. Despite confirming that what is going on here has gone from bad to worse, she lives and acts hopefully. Her view of the Obama visit? With Israel, the language of partnership; to the Palestinians, "take this and shut up." In the face of our shared cynicism, Vivien says, "I will see it in my lifetime; I will be able to walk into Gaza."

My next stop was at Sabeel, in Jerusalem. A call to Naim Ateek warned of my lateness and his appeal to Vivien (old and loving friends) to come with me. We tried every way we could, but it was not to be. So Vivien, bless her soul, put me on a bus from Bethlehem to Ramallah (to connect with Estephan for library visits) that became the most hair-raising adventure of my life. This route, taken daily by Palestinians, skirts Israel, and comes out just the other side of the Qalandia check point. Hurtling down precipitous descents at a waste-no-time speed, around hairpin turns ... indescribable! Mainly because my eyes were closed and I was deep in the kind of prayer I don't believe in - "Dear God, save me!"

But we made it safely to Ramallah, right on time ... even a little early.

No comments: