Virgins and Veterans

I’m back in Deheishe again and haven’t stepped foot outside the Beit Lahem area in the past couple of days, which is such a relief as I haven’t had to see one Israeli soldier. Five hours of hell with them at the Malak Hussein bridge was quite enough to keep me going. This time, however, I met someone on the taxi on the way to the bridge who was delightful and who has as many problems as I do with the Israeli border police so we stayed together from 8 AM when we left Amman until 4 PM when I left; he actually had to stay longer. I always find it fascinating to get in a service/taxi at Abdali in Amman and meet the people going to Falasteen. This day it was the man I mentioned above, a Palestinian Australian filmmaker who is coming back to Palestine to live for a while. He hadn’t been back for a while, but he knew the ropes and the games the Israelis love to play with you by making you wait, performing a variety of security checks, etc. But there was another man traveling with us. He is also Palestinian, but he hadn’t been home since 1967 when he left after being beaten up pretty badly by an Israeli soldier. He hadn’t ever been through this procedure so the filmmaker and I helped him along. It’s interesting because inevitably when one is on the way to the bridge you swap war stories about horrific encounters with the IDF, border police, etc. Everyone who has been has many of these. It makes the time pass as you move from one bus to another, from one border to another.

The bridge was swamped on Thursday with hundreds of Muslim pilgrims from South Africa who had just made the hajj to Mecca and Medina and now they are coming to Al Quds, which is traditionally an important part of the pilgrimage, though most Muslims are not able to enter because of the Israelis. Many of these people were originally from India. I couldn’t help but think about the irony that these families came from apartheid South Africa and now they were about to enter the 21st century’s apartheid regime. How fascinating it would be to follow them around and to see what they think about it.

There were some new things on the Israeli controlled side of the border this time. The first was a new procedure. Before we were allowed to get off the bus we had to take our jackets off. Fortunately it wasn’t too cold, but this is a strange new thing they asked us to do. The second new thing was a poster plastered all over the Israeli area, in Arabic, for something called the Born to Freedom Foundation. Apparently, the Israeli government is offering $10,000,000 for two Israeli soldiers who invaded Lebanon in 1982. They were last known to be in an area near the Syrian border, which is Hizbollah central. They are looking for collaborators who will inform as to their whereabouts if they are even alive.

And, speaking of informants, apparently this may be the reason that I’m still having border trouble, not my arrest with ISM last summer. According to my lawyer, there are many, many informants all over the West Bank and since I stay in Dehishe when I’m here, in a house of a known PFLP leader, this is the problem I’m having. Though it still doesn’t explain why they are always willing to give me a 3 month visa even when I don’t ask for it. The only solution is for me to have a 4 hour long interrogation with the Shabak (Israel’s version of the CIA), something which I would never capitulate to.

The mood in Deheishe is not great. The lack of resources here since the world decided it was acceptable to starve a population because they don’t like their government is taking its toll already. There were two young people assassinated by the IDF last week as well, one from Deheishe and one from Beit Lahem; one Christian, one Muslim. The Israelis get their Druze or Lebanese or Arab Jewish soldiers to pass as Palestinians in plain clothes, come into the area and assassinate people. I ask you, does this sound like democracy? Whatever happened to a trial with a jury of one’s peers? How does this become acceptable to a people, to a world? This happens on a regular basis all over the West Bank and Ghaza and no one seems to do anything to Israel; the U.S. can’t, of course, because they practice the same thing. These countries that claim to be the pillars of democracy, intent on delivering democracy to this region: does anyone know how to detect irony any more?

Salam–

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4 thoughts on “Virgins and Veterans

  1. If I had a nickle for every time I crossed Jiza Malik Hussein (King Hussein Bridge) and the lovely conversations that I had with the “little” girls I always get the joy to have shout at me in order to get a visa, a grown ass Black man, I’d be a millonaire!

    Israel and America have no interests in democracy other than using this word as a catch phrase to show that Israel is the “only” democracy in The near east and that America is the envy of the terrorists and other “despots”.

    Choosing to put an entire people who voted democraticly for their government on a “diet” is not a democratic principle, it is collective punishment, racism, surpression of freedom of choice, and is clearly NOT democratic.

  2. Maybe this will work as well as the most stupid embargo ever done – the one on Cuba. Will we ever learn? Tne correct answer is no.

  3. Dear Chris,

    I believe we met last fall picking olives near Nablus with Rabbis for Human Rights.

    It’s getting worse there. Every time. Every month. What to do?

    Salam–

  4. Khabibi, if the men of Hamas and Islamic Jihad prefer to face a trial in an Israeli court, they are welcome to turn themselves in at the nearest checkpoint.

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