The voice of an Israeli activist
My name is Daphna Alexandrovitch I am 64 years old from Jerusalem.
I grew up in the Abu-Tor neighborhood, at a corner of streets, each of which was crossed by the border fence between the Arab and Jewish Abu-Tor between Jordan and Israel before 1967. The windows of my house looked to the walls of the Old City. My father was a leftist. He mentioned to me that the elementary school where I study used to be an Arabic children school, called Omaria. After the 1967 war he supported Arab people he knew from the neighborhood and Siluan village, never the less, as a family we visited sites in the occupied territories
None of these really mattered to me. As a student of the State education system, I received an enthusiastic Zionist education and I was a loyal patriot. I had no hesitation about my enlistment in the military, though I chose to go to a kibbutz that is not in the occupied territories but in the Arava desert.
During my military service, I spent six months in a small military settlement called "Kochav Hashachar", which later became a civil settlement on the mountainside in Samaria.
During the stay in" Kochav Hashachar" we used to walk around in uniforms. I was like a little girl with a gun and a uniform. Since we really had nothing to do, We did a lot of sports.
One morning I went for a run with some friends. As we ran along a narrow road, leading out of the settlement, I noticed a Palestinian family sitting on a small hill on the side of the road. They brought up water from a cistern. They looked at us, I saw their eyes... Sad and angry eyes. They stopped being transparent to me, the situation ceased to be taken for granted to me, and I had a nagging and penetrating question: "What the hell am I doing here? Why am I walking between these people disturbing their lives?" we kept running, but from the moment I had that insight, nothing seemed obvious to me anymore.
Later on, I lived in a kibbutz in the Arava desert, very far from the reality in Israel. When I returned to Jerusalem after 12 years in the Arava, I began to be more active. For many years I was content with demonstrations and helping the farmers of Wallage village, south of Jerusalem, and introductory tours of Silwan and the Old City.
About four years ago I started learning Arabic with the understanding that it is one of the most terrible things that our society does. Ignoring culture and language of people who live with us.
About two and a half years ago, I met Guy Hirschfeld, who told me about the shepherding activities. I joined the activities of accompanying Bedouin and Palestinian shepherds in the Jordan Valley, who are trying to graze their flocks, and to farm their lands, despite the apartheid and the occupation regime that makes their lives miserable through their emissaries: the settlers, the military and the police.
In this activity, our role is to accompany the shepherds in the morning when they go out to graze, to document any settlers' activity that threatens the livelihoods and lives of the shepherds. When possible, try to prevent contact and the settlers' threat. Sometimes by speaking and sometimes by calling the police, which usually does not prevent the settlers from harassing the shepherds. For me, it's a very challenging activity, and I encounter very violent and determined settlers who disrespect human beings that don't share the same believes or don't belong to their sect. I encounter very young boys who come masked to startle and drive away shepherds and children. I encounter security coordinators act beyond the boundaries of their duties of their communities. Even on Saturdays they pray and drive wildly into a flock of pregnant sheep who later miscarriage their newborns. I meet soldiers who support the activities of the settlers, treat the Palestinians, the Bedouins and their sons arbitrarily, forcefully and rudely. And I meet policemen who are indifferent to the fate of those who are not Israelis that support the occupation and do not understand their role of protecting residents of this land.