Palestine: Flowers Have Light; People Do Not

by Jessica Frederick

In the Jordan Valley, Israeli flowers have electricity, but Palestinian people do not. 

Located in the east, along the Jordan River, the Jordan Valley comprises approximately 25 percent of the land in the West Bank.  In previous times, landowners were known as "princes" because of the abundantly available water and fertile land. 

Today, the Jordan Valley is a land of contrasts.  Israeli settlements and farms exist side-by-side (and sometimes through) Palestinian villages and farms.

Housing in the settlements is constructed of stone or concrete, with space to grow.  Palestinian villages are often filled with homes made of tarp and scrap metal, which are cold in the winter and hot in the summer.

In some areas, electric lines crisscross Palestinian villages and water pipe lines run through them.  But Palestinians often have no access to this infrastructure; it is for the exclusive use of nearby Israeli settlements.  The Israeli authorities have fenced in the water pumps, so Palestinians can't "steal" the water beneath their villages. 

Perhaps the most striking example of racist distribution of resources is that of Israeli flower plantations next to Palestinian villages.  Rows of lights hang over the flowers to make them bloom earlier for export to Europe.  Yet the Palestinians living next to these farms cannot tap into these electric lines. 

By providing this infrastructure, Israel encourages the growth of the Israeli settlement population.  At the same time, the Israeli government attempts to force Palestinians in the Jordan Valley off their land by demolishing their homes, denying them permission to build new homes or fix roads, and controlling water, electricity and transport of produce to markets.  Additionally, the Israeli government refuses to allow Palestinians who do not have an address in the Jordan Valley to visit there. 

Yet, as in the rest of Palestine, the Israeli occupation does not have the final word.  Palestinians showed CPTers the ways in which their communities are organizing to resist Israel's systematic oppression.  By insisting on their right to remain in the Jordan Valley - demonstrated by building schools (sometimes in defiance of the Israeli government) and providing electricity for themselves - they nonviolently confront the forces of the Israeli Occupation intent on removing them.