Walit, Ramallah shopkeeper

"You have come to visit this country you are welcome. Not only you, anyone who comes to visit is welcome. "

Conversation with Walid Pt. 1
3:28 minutes
Real Video (5.8 MB)
Windows Media (1.6 MB)

Conversation with Walid Pt. 2
7:02 minutes
Real Video (11.7 MB)
Windows Media (3.3 MB)

Conversation with Walid Pt. 3
3:45 minutes
Real Video (6.3 MB)
Windows Media (1.8 MB)

We had several contacts in Ramallah, and we had been debating the wisdom of visiting the West Bank. Virtually every Jewish contact we asked about this advised against it, thinking it would be too dangerous. When we got to Jerusalem and met Sami Taha at Venus Galleries, he encouraged us to visit Ramallah and arranged for his friend Talal to take us with him when he went from his home in Jerusalem to his eyeglass store in downtown Ramallah.

He picked us up in front of Sami's shop (catty-corner from the King David Hotel) and we drove to the Qalandia Checkpoint that separates Israel from the West Bank. It was apparently unrealistic to try to drive across, so we walked through the checkpoint and were picked up by his friend in a van. We drove to where our first appointment was scheduled, but we were much too early, so we decided to go with Talal to open his shop.

On the way we stopped to see the bombed headquarters of the PLO, where Yasser Arafat had his headquarters in a building still standing amongst the rubble. They pointed out a large new building next door, which they said was Israeli army headquarters.

At the shop we were met by Walit, a clerk in the store who made the trip every day from his home in Bethany (near Bethlehem) on the other side of Jerusalem.



Part 1.Walit describes Bethany, where he lives and discusses the problems of getting to work in Ramallah.

Part 2. I ask Walit to reflect on the current mess. "Our struggle is with those who are not going to admit that there is a right for another nation to live in this country."

"For myself, I don't think to carry a stone." But seeing images on the media and the coverage of abuse of Arab civilians, he thinks, will he be next? If someone threatens you, don't you have to protect yourself, he thinks. "If you don't have tanks and airplanes, you try to protect yourself by your hands. If your hands are cut (off), you try to protect yourself by talking."

Part 3. Imperialism. Aborigines in Australia. Not only is Israel an occupying country. Great Britain was before. Many nations sufferred under Britain's empire. They all got independence, except the Palestinians.

I ask him about a two-state solution, and he thinks it is in everyone's best interest. Especially the Israelis'. "The only way to stop them (militants.) is to give them something, some honor."

Voices of Israel and Palestine

Copyright 2003-2009 Peter Rashkin. Material under other bylines is copyright by the authors. All rights reserved.