Acre, (Akko) Israel
“I then journeyed along the coast to the town of Akka which is lying in ruins. Akka was formerly the capital of the lands of the Franks in Syria and the harbor for their vessels.......”
I did not journey along the coast because I came from Jerusalem with a Palestinian driver called Abed. And although I drove across much of the West Bank, we were on the highway, and green Palestinian licence plates are nowhere to be found because the access roads have been blocked. The settlements on either side of the road are fenced in with high chainlink fencing, and the ubiquitous concrete wall completes the apartheid picture.
Houses on the right comprise an illegally-built Israeli 'settlement' on Palestinian land. This road is for Israelis and yellow-licence plate holders only - the road barrier secures the passage of Israeli settlers on restricted roads by preventing Palestinians from gaining access. Palestinians thus have to take detours which can make a journey of minutes take several hours.
It is profoundly depressing; for the Palestinians because the ongoing theft of their land is an injustice they will never accept and for which they will continue to resist, and for Israelis because surely they can never have imagined that the 'Promised Land' would turn out to be the open prison that they themselves have built.
What is positively uplifting however is the number of Israelis and Palestinians who are working together to try and bring about change. For those who want the truth about the genesis of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict as well as honest, up-to-date reporting, I recommend the following four sources;
Zochrot, www.nakbainhebrew.org/index.php?lang=english means 'remembering' in Hebrew, and the objective of this admirable Israeli organization is to raise awareness of the Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948. Israeli schoolchildren were deliberately never taught about 1948, and consequently many Israelis themselves have no idea what really happened.
Another Israeli organization is the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions who can be found at www.icahd.org/eng/
An excellent website is Electronic Intifada - Palestine's Weapon of Mass Instruction. You can find them at http://electronicintifada.net/new.shtml
Another useful link is www.miftah.org the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy, associated with the highly-respected scholar and tireless promoter of a negotiated and just peace agreement, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi.
And so to Acre; Akko to the Israelis, Akka to the Arabs.......