Israel, Palestine, Travel

On the Road Again

I generally don’t get too excited until I board the plane. This is especially the case this time because we anticipate an adventure into interrogation by the security at the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.

There are always places you wish you’d have gotten to before you leave somewhere you have been living. But I think that, even though this is still the case with Ali and I in Israel-Palestine, we have done quite well. If you note the places visited in my side bar, you will see we visited every city in the West Bank. One of the questions they will ask us is whether we went to the West Bank or not. It’s not always in your best interest to say yes, but there is definitely that part of us that wants to shout “YES we have and we will again.” Then they will ask us if we have seen any soldiers with guns. This has to be the STUPIDEST question ever. I mean, come on. Take a walk down the street in Jerusalem, they are everywhere. I think I hate this question the most. What they really want to know is, “What do you think about the soldiers with the guns?” And they want you to say, “I am so glad they are here to protect us.” Which we really know is: BULLSHIT.

The Israeli society is one built on fear. Over history the Jews have been persecuted, and no one can deny the atrocities of the Holocaust. But I can’t always help but wonder why people refuse to learn from history. Yes, the Jews needed a place to come together and recover from the Holocaust. But we must remember that in taking back their Holy Land, they also displaced the Palestians, sending millions into refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and even Palestine. What is happening here is an occupation. Palestinians have lost their land and the land they do have is occupied by the IDF.

After the Palestinians decided to rise up against the occupation of their land, the Israeli government decided to build a “separation barrier.” A wall much like the one that separated East and West Germany. Suicide bombers became common for a period of time after the second intifada began in 2000. There have been two since Ali has been here, one since I have been here. On Sunday there was a plastic bag left alone near to where we were waiting for our bus at the bus station in Jerusalem. The area was evacuated and we waited and watched as a team came and blew up the bag in the event that it would have been a bomb itself. Buses pulled up and people ran to load onto them, only to be pushed into another area away from the “suspect bag.” There was panic in the air. I also felt afraid, especially not knowing what was going on without the knowledge of Hebrew. Everything turned out to be fine.

The world sees the aftermath of suicide bombs, not knowing what could have caused them in the first place because they don’t see the terror that the IDF creates in the Occupied Territories.

Settler children spit on Palestinian adults in Hebron. Jericho was cut off because it was making too much money with a Casino that Israelis used to frequent. After its economy suffered tremendously, it has recently been reopened. Bethlehem continues to suffer. Settlers were encouraged to move into Gaza and the West Bank and now have to disengage from Gaza and some from West Bank areas as well. Posters of Settler families facing an IDF soldier are tacked up around the bus station, in attempt to make me feel sorry for them. It doesn’t work. I do try to look at both sides: it would suck to grow up somewhere and be forced to move. But you can’t deny the fact that they are getting huge compensation to move elsewhere, more than enough to by a home in another Settlement or another area – not to mention that they did it to the people living there first. Gaza and West Bank homes are demolished daily, to make way for the wall, homes linked to a “suspicious person,” and many for no reason at all. No one gives these families a place to stay or the money to pick up the rubble that was once their home and build a new one.

I look at the occupation much like what has happened to other native cultures in the past and only continues to happen over time. I think about the history of the Native Americans. The bloodshed, the war. That was so long ago. How can the same thing still be happening, but with bigger guns, and tanks instead of horses? Is humanity really that…what is the word for it really? It makes me sad. And it makes me feel defeated. And if I think about it too much, I feel the “Little Man Tate Syndrome” coming on. So, I am going to get back to my cough and get some sleep. It’s tiring to look around the bedroom, see all of the things that we need to back up, only to be unpacked and questioned about at the airport.