Thursday, December 27, 2007
Blind Israeli Injustice
Two hours pass-It could be worse, I think. At least I’m not feeling the vicarious shame of watching my mother being strip searched like the several other previous times at the Israeli border.
Written in Al-Bireh, Occupied Palestine
Jordan River Border December 16, 2007
In line to check our bags through security, I make small talk with the young Palestinian man standing in front of me with his Israeli passport in hand. We speak in Arabic and he tells me he’s from Haifa and was just visiting relatives in Amman. He asks me if I’m also originally Palestinian and I tell him yes, but born and raised in the states. Smirking, he replies, “in the end we’re all just simply Palestinians.” I smile, yet soon enough I’d see exactly what his words imply.
What do you do in America?-
Where do you study?-
How long have you been studying altogether?
Count all the years-
What exactly did you study in undergrad?-
What does that mean?-
And now you’re studying the same thing?-
Who pays for your studies?-
Who paid for your plane ticket?-
So what will you work when you graduate?-
Media? But why? That’s not what you’re studying.-
Have you visited any other Arab countries before coming here? Syria, Lebanon, Iraq? Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran? Have you carried anything for someone?-
Are you carrying any weapons now?
Why have you come to Israel?
Why have you come to Palestine?
Why would you come here for a vacation?
Why not somewhere nice, like California?
I’m from California.
Where will you stay in Israel? Ramallah. Who will you see there?
My grandparents. They’re very old.
Feels like a safe enough answer. What could be more benign than grandparents? They must hear that one frequently...No wait. I forgot that it’s our grandparents that possess one of the most formidable weapons: Memory.
So why exactly do you come to Israel?
I didn’t know there was a way to get from Amman to Ramallah without having to cross into your state. We don’t choose to pass through the occupier in order to get to the occupied, you know.
I have a break from school, so I’m seeing family.
For a moment, I pause to contemplate the face of the border soldier sitting before me. She can’t be any older than me, I think. I try to briefly strip her of her role and imagine her life beyond the uniform. I ponder how she spends her nights off, what novel most moved her, what she might affectionately call her lover. Yet such thoughts are all too fleeting and soon enough I resume my inability to see anything beyond the repressive establishment she represents.There’s a reason I shudder each time I see someone wearing army green and feel instantly defensive and inferior each time I hear an Israeli accent. You’re it.
Read the rest of this heart-rending story: