In 2014 EPF PIN member Jo Bronson shared a report from Usama Nicola of Wi’am, the Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center in Bethlehem. Jo is back on the ground and we share this update from her:
I am Jo Bronson and currently teaching at the Episcopal Technological Vocational Training Center (ETVTC) in Ramallah, Palestine. I was visiting with ( for the person’s protection let’s call him) Amir about an insight that I had regarding Palestine and the restrictions.
I had left Ramallah in April. In July, a Palestinian friend needed to have detached retina surgery and I longed to care for her during the recovery process. If she lived in any other country, I could freely fly over to her in July and stay for three weeks and care for her. Then return again in September to teach in the fall. But because the Israeli government would question the frequency of my visits. I could not risk being sent back to the US even before I saw my friend.
That was when, I had the realization that all of Palestine is a prison. I know that Gaza is considered the largest open air prison in the world. I call Gaza a maximum security prison. But the West Bank is also a prison. A minimum security prison. The residents are not allowed to travel without a travel permit. They cannot move freely without the permission of the Israeli government – hence a prison. Every aspect of Palestinians’ lives are controlled by the Israeli Occupying Forces as they enforce those laws and regulations. All of Palestine is an open-air prison – just different degrees of incarceration.
Amir said “Yes, it is a prison. I was born in Jerusalem and I cannot go to the Holy Sepulchre to pray. I am not allowed into my own homeland to visit my birthplace.” Every aspect of Palestinian lives is controlled. Even for my students to travel to and from school is a danger. They risk their lives each day for an education.
Usama Nicola’s update from 2014 shows how much or how little things have changed since then. You can read it here.