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2 September 2020

Communities

Jacky , at the office, has been interviewing people for a project that she calls "Humans of Wahat al-Salam - Neve Shalom", a take on the famous "Humans of NY" website/book/facebook page. She asked me to read through the interviews for typos and mistakes, which I did. Met, along the way, some really beautiful people in the village who I've never actually had a conversation with - especially young people who I remember as kids but who are now in their 30s. (Sometimes that's how I remember them, and don't always recognize them these days when they pass me on the street.)

Communities are always full of disadvantages - sometimes village politics hardens the relationship between people and so they barely talk to one another. Sometimes there are disappointments, like N. today screaming, crying and banging on her desk at me today that nobody was coming to her assistance after the fire. But for all of that, I think I would never trade the experience of living in a community for living the life of an individual, in complete anonymity.

All my life I have gravitated towards communities. They ease so many difficulties in life, and, especially for a foreigner living a strange country, they provide a ready sense of identity and allegiance. And even for an ordinary person, they give a richness that would otherwise be missing in their life. One of the interviewees in Jacky's book said something like "The community is me - I made it - and I identify with it totally". It's a sense of identity that is much more problematic with larger units, such as countries. I have always felt alienated towards all the nations in which I have lived, including the one where I was born. I'm deeply cynical of all nations; their myths and their militarism.

Most communities are organized around some sense of common identity, such as ethnicity, religious or ideological identity. Monasteries, ashrams, cults, kibbutzes, kolhozes, ideological communes, etc. Ours is rather unusual in that it is binational, bilingual, and based on mutual respect for our differences. It's fairly loose though; more like a village with some commonly owned projects.

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Intentional Communities website

SPIP and NivoSlider

I do the village website in SPIP, an ancien French CMS, since, in the early 2000s when I updated the site, it seemed like the most practical system for multi-lingual sites. I liked especially that it could handle right-to-left languages, which even today in WordPress can be a headache, depending on the theme. (With one of the more popular WP options, "Elegant Themes", four or five years ago on another site, I had a really hard time with that, and only partially resolved it with lots of help from their technical support.)

Anyway, a few months ago I updated the SPIP site and included some NivoSlider slideshows. With SPIP sometimes, because all the documentation is in French, I miss some things. So yesterday I was wondering how to create links from the slides - I thought I would have to hack it. But, by chance, I discovered that just adding a URL to the photo's description creates the link. Amazing. I was really happy about that.

Fire at the School for Peace

In the morning we learned that during the night the old wooden building that is part of the U shaped quadrangle of the School for Peace had burned down in the night. Awful photos. Firefighters were here for two or three hours, though I didn't hear a thing. It isn't clear who did it, though it's highly suspicious that it happened on the night before the school year started. The School for Peace isn't the Primary School, but, since 1979, an informal institution for Jewish-Palestinian dialogue.

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The fire was in the main building of the School for Peace, used for classrooms and as an observation room for teaching the annual facilitator training course. When I first came to the village, the building was being used as the community's main administration building. It was an old Swedish wooden hut, reassembled from disused materials obtained for free. Eventually, when the building was old and beyond repair we mostly replaced it with new materials, but, wanting to keep the old look, we kept the same appearance.

Now, it seems to be ruined beyond repair.

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There was one previous attack on the village by right-wing extremists, but that was in 2012. They slashed tires and daubed "Death to Arabs" all over the school entrance, but they wrote also their "calling card", "Hi from Havat Gilad (an Israeli outpost settlement in the occupied West Bank)". This time there was nothing; we will have to wait for the police report to see whether this was arson.

Nevertheless, the school year started. I don't know what will happen regarding the children who were rejected by the School administration just before the start of the year (see earlier post). My grandchild, coming from Italy,and entering 3rd year, seemed very happy, though she cried at the beginning when she realized she was with a bunch of children she didn't know, and the teacher was speaking in Arabic, which she doesn't understand yet. My other grandchildren went into the kindergarten and nursery, where they already know lots of the children.

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