mural at pmnhBelow is a letter Deb wrote about her recent trip to make a mural in Palestine: 
Hello Friends!
In deep gratitude to all the people who facilitated my safe journey to and from the Palestine Museum of Natural History (PMNH) in Bethlehem, I returned to the US one week ago!  While in the West Bank I had a wonderful time making a large mural at the PMNH, just in time for the museum’s grand opening!
 The mural includes animals and plants native to Palestine. Three birds are featured, the common names of which follow:  the eagle owl, the bee-eater and the hoopoe. The Palestinian red fox appears at the entrance of a cave, behind native wildflowers, including the anemone, yellow and white stars of Bethlehem and the iris.  The mural is about 55 feet long and 12 feet high and appears on a wall at the eastern end of the museum's property, facing the museum's two greenhouses. 

New Mural at Palestine Museum of Natural History

view-from-jala-rest-imagine you are a waiter in a restaurant which overlooks beautiful hills of your homeland.  you are thankful to have this job, but you are surprised that you find yourself struggling with some emotional issues as a result of this good job.  you live in a refugee camp which is very very poor.  many services in the camp are not functioning. there are often water shortages which result in failure of the sewer system.  in certain parts of the village the stench is unbearable.  there is no waste disposal service so waste piles high in and around the dumpsters just down the street from your home.  you and your parents came to this refugee camp after your house was bulldozed so that the people of the neighboring state could build new houses in place of those which belonged to your family and friends.  ten years ago you and your parents left your home village to live in a refugee camp.  

two months ago you began work as a waiter in a restaurant which grows its own organic vegetables.  the restaurant is especially popular with tourists who visit your homeland.  the tourists seem happy as they sit on the back porch overlooking the gardens below on the steep hill. they order big meals and drink beer as they watch the sun go down over the gorgeous horizon.  they are dressed in fine clothes, wear nice walking shoes, and carry bags made with very sturdy materials.  

you overhear the visitors talking about the beauty and also the ugliness of your homeland.  the visitors love the landscape and speak with disgust the soldiers who kicked you and your family from their homes.

one day you see a woman come to the restaurant by herself.  she smiles and is very appreciative of your service. she say it is her birthday.  in order to celebrate her birthday, she says she will make a watercolor painting of the wonderful view.  you long to talk with her, to learn more about her land.  you sense she longs to talk with you.  but you live worlds apart.  the divide is too wide to cross in one evening's discussion around a painting.  

you like the few glimpses of the painting you see before nightfall.

Palestine--Israeli-Apartheid-Wall-at-Aida-Refugee-Campimagine you are a child walking to school in the morning from the refugee camp in which you live. each day you walk next to a huge concrete wall which leads to a tower at the corner of the street on which you live.  you are told that soldiers sit in the top of the tower and look out its windows.  you are told that the men in the towers don't like you because you are of a race and religion different from them. you don't understand why they don't like you and don't trust your relatives.  you are told that the men in the tower look similar to the soldiers in the streets who walk around carrying guns.  you have seen some of those soldiers take five of your relatives--including your cousin who is your same age--out of their houses in the middle of the night.  you miss your relatives and wonder when they will come home from jail.

Palestine-Wildlife-Refuge-Being-Starved-of-Waterimagine you are a biology student who is excited to go out with your biology professor to a nature preserve to collect rare insects and plant species.  as your professor drives into the area which he visited just one year before, he tells you there used to be a thriving stream near the dirt road. all you can see out the window of the car is a trickle of water.  the reason there is so much less water now as opposed to one year ago is that settlements have been built just above this nature preserve.  you see one of the pipes which brings water to one of the settlements. when you get out of the car you see algae in the stream and a few small fish.  you walk into the bush with your professor to find good specimens.  an international visitor accompanies you all into this wild place.  she is happy to make a beautiful watercolor painting of this beautiful place.  she tells you she will tell others in her country about the injustice of the settlement construction.  she tells you she has attended protested against the settlements alongside your professor.  you tell the international that you don't believe in the protesting.  you say it is useless and just a good way to get into jail.  you say that you are working as hard as you can to get into a good graduate school program to help preserve the natural wonders of your land.  you say you cannot understand why all the protesting which is just a waste of time that could be used to organize and build a natural history museum in your country.


Battir-Village-Terracesimagine you live in a beautiful village which has unique terraces and water canals dating back to the days of the roman empire (which once extended into your village).   your neighbors still farm on those terraces.  your village has been designated "area C", which means much of the farmland of your family has already been annexed by the state next to you which claims it deserves to use your land more than you deserve it.  

you are told that a huge wall is going to be built right through all the ancient terraces of your village.  in order to build the wall, many trucks and bulldozers will come through the village and destroy plants, trees and the precious terraces.
you are told this destruction of your village can be prevented if your village earns a designation as a UN World Heritage site.  you and your friends scrape some money together, get a camera, and make a youtube video about your village in hopes you will raise more international awareness about the fate your village faces.