It is hard to write about the wall — Israel’s security fence, or the separation wall, the Apartheid Wall, as the Palestinians call it. It is such a huge thing, with such profound impact, and so hard to comprehend.  It deviates considerably from the green line established in 1949 armistice between Israel and Jordan. The wall consumes Palestinian lands, divides Palestinian towns, Palestinian people from their fields, Palestinian children from their schools. (A tour guide from Green Olive Tours–a former Israeli soldier now sympathetic to the Palestinians’ plight–told us that because of a lack of land now, the Palestinians are short 5,000 classrooms.) What’s more, the Palestinians live in terror of the day the bulldozers show up at their homes to be demolished for the building of the wall. 60 Palestinian homes are destroyed yearly, one or two at a time, and residents are given only a few hours’ notice. When they see the bulldozers approach, they don’t know which houses are next to be demolished.

Palestinians and Internationals protesting the building of the wall (and its guard towers) write their feelings of anger, their hopes for peace, their messages to the world on the wall. We saw the graffiti especially where the children played at Wi’am and at the Aida Refugee Camp. We saw the wall many, many times as we drove through the West Bank. Its monolithic presence has a devastating impact (along with the 600 checkpoints  throughout the West Bank) on the freedom of the Palestinian people, who have welcomed us warmly into their community, and their homes. Often they ask us: “Do you feel unsafe here?” “Do we seem like terrorists to you?

It seems laughable to us now: yes, we feel safe; no they aren’t terrorists. Our only nervous moments have been beneath the towers at the wall, and at the checkpoints.

Life in this land is everything to the Palestinian people — they live under the monolithic shadow of oppression rather than leave their land; they refuse a check for $1 million rather than leave their farm; they live together in refugee camps rather than be separate from their village even after they’ve long been removed from it. I go home soon to a different kind of land–to the wide open prairie, the embrace of an uninterrupted sky, wondering how to stay connected from one land to another.