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Saturday, February 4, 2012

What Not to Wear, part 2

I bought a few items of clothing at the Salvation Army store last summer before I left on my venture. I bought them so I would have the right clothing for India and Palestine, the two places I'd spend the most time and the two most conservative places I'd be, at least in the particular areas I'd be living, Chatra and Nablus. I bought a pair of Capri pants (which I wore and left in India), a long summery skirt (worn in India, brought with me for the rest of my travels), and two long winter skirts for Palestine (left at home until my parents and I met up in Spain).

I think I did OK with clothing for India, especially since I bought some clothes there- a sari, a few kurtas (essentially Indian tunics), and salwar  kameez suits (one I bought at the beginning of my time, a few others were given to me towards the end). When I wore my Indian clothes, I always got lots of compliments. When I wore my Western clothes, the girls at the English Medium school, likely influenced by what they'd seen on TV or in movies, told me I looked beautiful. It was rather flattering to be complimented no matter what I wore!

I thought I'd done pretty well with clothes for Nablus, too. I had long sleeved shirts, scarves for around my neck, long pants, and the long skirts I'd bought.  I also brought one of my kurtas and 2 of my salwar kameez suits since they are appropriately modest. Most of what I brought is just right. However, much to my dismay, I found out that the long skirts I'd bought especially for Palestine would not do.

The skirts are modest; that is not the problem. The problem is that the only people around here who wear long skirts like the ones I bought are Israeli settlers. It is not a good thing in Palestine to look like a settler. Doing so might give the impression that I align myself with them, an impression I most definitely do not want to give.

As I hear more horror stories about settler actions, I want to distance myself in every way possible from them. Recently I visited the Greek Orthodox church built around Jacob's Well (see John 4:13-14 for a reference to this place).  One of the icons in the church is of a settler killing the priest who worked there until 1979.  That year a settler brutally murdered him.

The same day I visited the church, a Project Hope volunteer who is a reporter told us a story she'd heard that day in a nearby village. Recently, two 14 year-old Palestinian boys were detained for some reason by the Israeli military (very common). Their hands and feet were bound and soldiers were taking them somewhere when the group ran into a settler. The settler asked the soldiers if he could hit the kids. The soldiers said yes and the settler kicked them in the face and when they fell to the ground, kicked them some more and stomped on them. At some point after the beating, the boys were released and their families tried to take legal action against the settler. However, the soldiers and settler denied what had happened and that was the end of it. It makes me sick to my stomach to even think about it and this sort of thing happens all the time.  I've heard story after story like this about both settlers and soldiers. The above behavior is the norm rather than the exception. So, no, I don't want anyone to mistake me for a settler.

Thankfully, I bought the skirts second-hand and cheap. I didn't waste too much money on them, though they are yet another item that my parents didn't need to haul across the ocean for me (the Arabic books mentioned in a previous post being the first such items). The rest of my clothes will do for now and I guess I'll find something to do with the skirts...

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