Planning to visit Palestine? Good news, Indian citizens don’t need a visa to enter Palestine. One small thing though. Palestine is occupied, and you cannot enter Palestine except through Israeli border control. The occupied Palestinian territories (OPT) have no control over their external borders.
Entry to Ayda refugee camp in the West Bank, established in 1950. The key is the symbol of the Right of Return of Palestinians. (Photo AN/NM)
Whether you fly in through Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, or enter by road from Jordan or Egypt – it’s an Israeli visa that is required – there is no such thing as a visa to Palestine. Indeed, from the point of view of the occupying state, there is no Palestine, only Palestinian Territories – that is, West Bank and Gaza, the two green bits in the fourth map reproduced in the previous post. (There are also no Palestinians, according to Israeli state classifications – there are Israelis and there are bureaucratically differentiated Arabs, as we’ll see below). And it’s highly unlikely you’ll be granted a visa if you say you are going to visit towns in the occupied territories. Alternatively, if a visa is granted to visit the West Bank, you fall foul of Israeli border policy, begun in 2009, that bars foreigners who say they are visiting the Palestinian Territories from entering Israel. Which means then, that once you enter West Bank, you cannot visit Jerusalem, or any other part of Israel.
Entry to the walled city of Jerusalem. (Photo AN/NM)
The status of Jerusalem is deeply contested. In 1948, during the war fought between Israel and a coalition of Arab states including Palestinian forces, Israel annexed West Jerusalem, while East Jerusalem was controlled by Jordan. In 1967, through the Six Day War, Israel occupied the rest of Palestinian territories except for West Bank and Gaza, as well as East Jerusalem. Israel refers to Jerusalem as the country’s “undivided capital”, but the international community has rejected the annexation of Jerusalem as illegal and treats East Jerusalem as Palestinian territory held by Israel under military occupation.
Going back home
Of course, it’s much easier for foreigners to enter Palestine than for Palestinians to re-enter their own country. If you bear Palestinian identity papers you cannot enter through the Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. You must fly into Amman, Jordan, and endure the entry into Israel through Allenby Bridge Crossing between Jordan and Israel.
Chaos at Allenby Crossing (Photo Masha Lloyd)
You could be a Palestinian academic travelling abroad for a conference, or a businessman, or even a Palestinian American with a US passport. If you are a Palestinian of any sort, then you must enter your country through the Via Dolorosa, as Islah Jad, Professor at Birzeit University termed it wryly. The Via Dolorosa is a street within the Old City of Jerusalem, held to be the path that Jesus walked, carrying his cross, on the way to his crucifixion. The Palestinians walk that tortuous path each time they come back home. Says Ayman Mohyeldin, Egypt correspondent of Aljazeera:
You might think you are crossing an international border, but technically you are not. You’re really crossing a very cumbersome and arduous checkpoint on one side controlled by Jordanians and the other by the Israeli military, even though you are not technically entering Israel proper (or Israel pre-1967 borders).
Now how long you wait depends on who you are and what identification you carry. So lets start with bottom of the pack. Palestinians. Yes, the people actually returning to what is widely considered their homeland and probably their future sovereign state. Well, you probably guessed it. They wait the longest. On a good day, it can be as long as 8 hours on a bad day it can be as long as 14 hours…
Unlike Palestinians, anyone else carrying any other form of national identification, can actually pay for a V.I.P service, which means instead of an Israeli contracted security guard who aggressively commands the thousands of Palestinians queuing up, with the same five words in Arabic repeated over and over, you are most likely greeted by an Israeli, often of Eastern European descent, with a nice smile and a cold refreshing bottle of water. In the V.I.P service you are whisked away from the Jordanian side of the border to the West Bank in a nice air conditioned mini-van.
At all times, even inside the country, Palestinians require a special permit, issued by Israel, to enter Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority does not control its borders. All persons entering PA-controlled areas must be granted permission by Israel.
Occupation yes, but also Apartheid
The Israeli Government categorizes Israeli citizens by religious and national-ethnic affiliation. Each Israeli ID card states in the nationality section whether the citizen is a Jew, Arab, Druze or a member of other ethnic groups.
Israeli ID card listing religion (image from lubin.co.uk)
In April 2002, the Israeli Ministry of Interior issued new regulations which leave the “nationality” section blank. This change affected only newly-issued ID cards. Most ID cards still in use list the national-ethnic or religious identity.
In October 2011, 81 year old Israeli author Yorum Kaniuk finally won a case that allowed him to carry an ID card that did not register his religion. Kaniuk has in recent years, criticized policies of the Israeli state, including a 2009 law banning the commemoration of or education about the Nakba. Kaniuk is a proponent of the two state solution, and a Zionist, but one who recognizes the gross injustices perpetrated by his state. (The debates around “The Solution” will be addressed in the next post)
All people living in the territory carry one of four kinds of colour-coded ID cards. The cards are actually off-white, but referred to by the colour of the plastic case they are required to be carried in.
Israeli Jewish citizens with blue Israeli ID cards. Mandatory state-issued ID cards were introduced in Israel in 1949 and all Jews born or residing in Palestine prior to the establishment of the state of Israel in May 1948 or arriving from elsewhere were given Israeli citizenship and national ID cards in 1949. Today, all Jewish-Israeli citizens hold blue ID cards whether they live in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, a settlement, or an outpost in the West Bank. Further, according to Israel’s Law of Return, any Jew, anywhere in the world, qualifies for ‘return’ to Israel, and thus can be granted Israeli citizenship and the accompanying blue ID card. The nationality section of their ID card lists them as “Jewish”, but this has been left blank for new ID cards issued after April 2002. There are approximately 384,000 of these Israelis classified as Jewish, who live in Israeli settlements in the West Bank including Jerusalem. They hold Israeli ID cards and are allowed free movement throughout the West Bank but are formally restricted from entering Palestinian cities.
Arabs (Palestinians) with Israeli citizenship, who too, have blue Israeli ID cards. Palestinian residents of Israel had to prove continuous residence in Israel between 1949 and 1952 in order to qualify for Israeli citizenship, granted, in theory at least, in 1952. Israeli ID cards were issued to the approximately 160,000 Palestinians who were not expelled from within Israel – the population that is referred to by the Israeli state as ‘Arab-Israelis,’ by themselves as ‘1948 Palestinians.’ These cardholders have access to Jerusalem and freedom of movement in most of the West Bank, although someone listed as ‘Arab’, even if holding an Israeli ID card, is more likely to be questioned, delayed and at times denied access.
Palestinians who continue to live in the areas they call “48” are certainly not equal citizens of Israel, as an Israeli Government report conceded in 2000:
The Arab citizens of Israel live in a reality in which they experience discrimination as Arabs. This inequality has been documented in a large number of professional surveys and studies, has been confirmed in court judgments and government resolutions, and has also found expression in reports by the state comptroller and in other official documents. Although the Jewish majority’s awareness of this discrimination is often quite low, it plays a central role in the sensibilities and attitudes of Arab citizens. This discrimination is widely accepted, both within the Arab sector and outside it, and by official assessments, as a chief cause of agitation…
In January 2012, the Supreme Court of Israel upheld a law banning Palestinians who marry Israelis from gaining Israeli citizenship.
Arabs (Palestinians) with blue Jerusalem ID cards. Israel annexed Jerusalem in 1967 and continues to expand the city’s municipal boundaries through illegal Jewish settlements. The city’s Palestinians are not Israeli citizens, but have permanent ‘temporary residency’! When Israel conducted the 1967 census, 66,000 Palestinians resided within the newly deﬁned boundaries of East Jerusalem, but only those physically present at the time were permitted residency status, thus excluding students, workers, vacationers, and those visiting family outside the city or the country. Between 1967 and 1973, Israel permitted a limited number of Palestinians to return as war refugees, but very few of these were allowed into Jerusalem and to obtain subsequent Jerusalem ID cards. Between 1973 and 1993, none were permitted in Jerusalem. By and large, since 1967 Israel has pursued a program of de-Arabization in Jerusalem, including ” encouraging” the departure of Palestinians through policies such as the revocation of ID cards, expanding the municipal boundaries and increasing Jewish-Israeli residence, imposing limitations on Palestinian building and infrastructure, making it virtually impossible to secure commercial permits, demolishing houses, and denying family reuniﬁcations. In the words of Jeff Halper, Palestinians in Jerusalem are subject to “ethnic cleansing by bureaucratic strangulation.”
As residents of Jerusalem, these Palestinians ostensibly have freedom to move in and out of Jerusalem and throughout most of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). In practice, however, they are often stopped by border and civil police in Jerusalem. The right of Jerusalem ID holders to live in Jerusalem is not guaranteed. Under Israeli law, if they reside outside of Jerusalem for seven years, they lose their ID card and residency.
Arabs (Palestinians) in the West Bank carry orange ID cards issued by the Israeli authorities or green ones, nominally issued by the Palestinian Authority, but in fact Israeli state authorities issue all cards. A West Bank ID holder requires a permit to pass through any of the numerous military checkpoints into Israel and Jerusalem. Since September 2000, these permits have been difficult to obtain and often have been cancelled without notice. In addition, further movement restrictions have been imposed on West Bank ID holders. For most of this time, Palestinians above the age of 16 require a permit to travel from one Palestinian city to another within the West Bank. A permit is also needed to enter any Israeli settlement or industrial zone located in the West Bank where they may be employed. Each ID card states whether the cardholder is Muslim or Christian.
ID cards carried by Palestinians serve less as guarantees of rights than as means of control and surveillance by Israeli military forces. All rules of movement and residence for Palestinians anywhere in the OPT and ’48 are inconsistent and arbitrary. This arbitrariness is what makes this an Occupation rather than a regime proper.
Movement between the West Bank and Jerusalem is regulated by this system of ID cards.
(This discussion on ID cards in Palestine/Israel is based on personal conversations with Palestinians, Helga Tawil-Souri’s article and this link to the Open Society Archives at Central European University ).
These legal categories effectively mean that for all Palestinians, normal decisions about jobs and families are extremely fraught, and everyday life is a series of minor or major confrontations with Israeli authorities. For instance, a Palestinian living in Jerusalem say, meets a Palestinian from the West Bank, falls in love, want to marry. But after marriage, the Jerusalem resident has no option but to give up all residence rights in Jerusalem and move to the vast prison that the West Bank is, with all its attendant restrictions. Or you just don’t fall in love with the wrong legal category of person!
A Palestinian Professor with residence rights in Jerusalem, teaching in Birzeit University in the West Bank, cannot simply rent a place close to the university, for s/he would lose her Jerusalem home. If Palestinian homes appear unoccupied for a while (no trash outside, uncollected mail), the residents will receive a notice, and they can be evicted from their own home.
So that faculty member must drive daily to work, and the 20-minute drive back to Jerusalem is routinely close to an hour because the check points operate slowly and the traffic is deliberately made more chaotic than it need be.
(Once, at the Qalandia checkpoint, we waited in a line growing longer and longer as the young armed Israeli controlling it, intently tinkered with her cell phone. The driver of the car before us leaned out and asked a question. The Israeli guard looked up briefly and held up one stern warning finger, then went back to checking her mail.)
Sometimes you can find the check point is closed, and then you must take a 15 kilometer detour.
If you are in a bus or taxi, you must get out and walk through a barricaded corridor to the other side, a process that can take up to an hour.
Bus passengers having alighted at Qalandia Check point, walking through the corridor to the other side. (Photo AN/NM)
The Separation Wall (that is, the Apartheid Wall)
(Section of the Apartheid Wall (Photo AN/NM)
The idea of creating a physical barrier between the Israeli and Palestinian populations was first proposed in 1992, supposedly for the security of Israel from Palestinian terror attacks. Essentially it is an illegal attempt to annex Palestinian land under the guise of security and severely restricts Palestinians who live nearby, particularly their ability to travel freely within the West Bank and to access work in Israel.
(It is another matter that some Jewish settlers condemn the barrier for appearing to renounce the Jewish claim to the whole of the Land of Israel!)
The Wall makes it impossible for the Palestinian state to be formed on the scattered remains of land, thus making it easier to annex. It seeks to stop Palestinians from reaching their agricultural lands, thus forcing their emigration. Additionally, it isolates the Palestinian towns and villages from each other, to prevent communication. The Wall in many places, closes off access of Palestinian villages to the main road just minutes away, forcing villagers to take a circuitous several kilometer long detour just top reach the main road. ( Of course, Israeli illegal settlements have direct access to the main road.)
Section of Wall with political graffiti on the Palestinian side. The portrait is of Marwan Hasib Ibrahim Barghouti, regarded as a leader of the First and Second Intifadas, in an Israeli prison since 2002. (Photo AN/NM)
The Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, says about the Wall:
Most of the Separation Barrier route, constructed by Israel over the last ten years, does not follow the Green Line, the 1947 armistice line between the West Bank and Israel. Instead, the barrier lies within the West Bank and divides Palestinian villages from their pastures and farmlands, stifles any chance for economic development and makes survival extremely difficult for nearby Palestinian communities. As a result, the surrounding area’s economic stability and agricultural activity have declined sharply, and many Palestinians have simply packed up and left their homes.
A snaking section of the wall encircling Beit Jala (a Palestinian town next to Bethlehem), that separates Palestinian homes (seen in the picture) from Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Those living here need to take a detour (over an hour instead of 10 minutes) to get to Jerusalem. (Although of course, it is rare for people living here to get the permit to go to Jerusalem). (Photo AN/NM)
Notice the water tanks!
If by nothing else, you can tell Palestinian homes by the black or metal water tanks on their roofs, which you won’t find on Israeli roofs, because Israelis have continuous water supply. While Israeli settlers have no restrictions on water use, Israel strictly controls water supply to Palestinian villages. It does not allow new wells to be drilled by Palestinians and has confiscated many wells for Israeli use. Palestinians were allowed to dig only 13 wells between 1967 and 1996.
Israel sets quotas on how much water can be drawn by Palestinians from existing wells. When supplies of water are low in the summer months, the Israeli water company Mekorot closes the valves which supply Palestinian towns and villages, so as not to affect Israeli supplies. This means that illegal Israeli settlers can have their swimming pools topped up and lawns watered while Palestinians living next to them, on whose land the settlements are situated, do not have enough water for drinking and cooking.
Israel often sells the water it steals from the West Bank back to the Palestinians at inflated prices.
The Gaza strip relies predominately on wells that are being increasingly infiltrated by salty sea water because Israel is over-pumping the groundwater. UN scientists estimate that Gaza will have no drinkable water within fifteen years.
Israeli settlers in Palestinian lands routinely try to drive out Palestinians by destroying their source of water. Two instances: in Madama village 50km north of Jerusalem, settlers from Yizhar settlement have repeatedly vandalized the villagers’ only source of water. They have poured concrete into it, vandalized the connecting pipes and even dropped disposable diapers and other hazardous waste into the springs. Three villagers have been attacked by settlers while trying to repair the water source.
Constant settler attacks on the community of Yanoun peaked in October 2002 when masked settlers charged into the village with dogs and caused significant damage to the water network, several roof tanks, and the local spring, which is considered to be the main source of water for the community.
The irony is that Israel has successfully marketed itself as a world leader in managing scarce water resources, recycling and re-using waste water. Which may well be the case, but under Israeli Occupation and discriminatory Apartheid policies, Palestinian access to water is severely compromised.
Are there Palestinian passports?
I came across a revealing discussion on the Lonely Planet site about whether there are Palestinian passports. It is revealing for two reasons – the degree of confusion among reasonably well traveled and well informed people on the national status of Palestinians; but more importantly for the cleverly worded responses from some people that convey the false impression that Palestinians are sovereign in their “own” territories, and in Israel, equal citizens.
Nomad0421 answers the initial question “Yes…Palestinians from the territories have passports issued by the Palestinian Authority and each passport is valid for 5 years. They are allowed to travel abroad using these Palestinian passports…”
Travellinandi is confused “I met a woman from Palestine last year in India and commented I’d never seen a Palestine passport. She just about bit my head off and said that Palestinians get Israeli passports…”
dow204 explains: “Arab Israelis, i.e., those living within the State of Israel, are issued Israeli passports and are full citizens. They are not Palestinians. Those living in the Palestinian territories are issued passports by the PA authority, but, as nomad0421 has said, they are practically useless.” (nomad0421 hasn’t actually said that at all, he has made it sound very normal; but we’ll let that pass).
mesha comes in on the ‘full israeli citizen’ claim: “Unlike Israelis who can marry and bring who they like to live in Israel – An Arab Israeli woman or man living in Haifa for example wants to marry a Palestinian arab man/woman from Nablus….. would not be able to marry them and bring them to live in Israel and then ultimately get nationality … as would a Jewish Israeli. ” (Haifa is in Israel, Nablus in the OPT)
a1 to Mesha “Just to clarify: Israeli Arabs can marry whoever they like. Period. They can bring their spouse to live with them in Israel, just like Jewish Israelis. And they cannot bring in their spouse if he/she is a Palestinian – just like Jewish Israelis (and there are rare cases of Jewish Israelis marrying Palestinians).”
No Israeli citizen can bring a Palestinian spouse into Israel – and that makes “Arab Israelis” (who are emphatically not Palestinians) equal to “Jewish Israelis”!
Between nomad0421, dow204 and a1, the pernicious normalization of Occupation and and Apartheid is complete.
Officially, Jewish-Israelis are permitted to move around freely in Oslo-designated Areas B (shared administration between Palestinian Authority and Israel) and C (completely under Israel). Together, these account for more than 70% of the West Bank. Officially, Israelis are not supposed to enter Area A (nominally under the Palestinian Authority) and the Gaza Strip, although this can be overruled by military orders. The ‘rules’ are sporadic and inconsistent, but the Israeli regime does not actually prevent Jewish-Israelis from entering anywhere in the OPT’s. Moreover, unlike a Palestinian who risks imprisonment, beating, ID-card revocation, eviction, and a range of other punishments, should s/he be caught with the ‘wrong’ ID card or without a permit, rarely is a Jewish-Israeli punished for being in Area A.
West Bank Palestinians cannot just visit Jerusalem as they wish. Permits to visit Jerusalem are infrequently and randomly given by Israeli authorities. We met a Birzeit University faculty member at an event organized by a French organization in Jerusalem. The organization had applied for permits to attend the event, for two faculty members of Birzeit, weeks before the event. Only one permit was granted, and he received this information only on the morning of the event. We’re not talking about a visa from India to Pakistan, this is permission to leave the West Bank to go to Jerusalem, which is legally Palestinian territory, but illegally occupied by Israel.
These kinds of impossible restrictions on mobility essentially mean that most Palestinians live their everyday lives in a constant condition of illegality. Whether and when you will be caught out is unpredictable, because it is completely arbitrary. However, it is also convenient for Israeli authorities to turn a blind eye when it suits them. For instance, illegal entry by Palestinian workers is routine, for they keep the Israeli economy running. Says Mona Issa in a report in The Guardian:
Israel began erecting the wall in 2002. It has since slithered deep into Palestinian land, and its checkpoints and restrictions have crippled the Palestinian economy. All the while, ghost workers – those who cross the border illegally – continue to be the bedrock of Israel’s economy. Indeed, its central bureau of statistics says about half of the approximately 220,000 foreign workers in Israel are illegal, while the Palestinian Workers’ Union estimates there are between 35,000 and 40,000 illegal workers in Israel.
Two Checkpoint Stories
The swapping of checkpoint stories (like in Kashmir!) is a common form of sociality and solidarity. Sad stories, sometimes scary, sometimes funny and defiant. Passing through checkpoints is an essentially dehumanizing process, producing a sense of passivity and helplessness. For many Palestinians then, it’s a constant longing to snatch back one moment of dignity, to create one hiccup in the routine degradation – through an unnecessary question, a deliberate moment of delay, so that the checkpoint fails in that moment to normalize itself.
Emilio, a Chilean citizen, whose Palestinian great grandfather emigrated during the Crimean War, tells of being in a bus into Jerusalem from the West Bank. At the checkpoint, the Israeli security officer approached him for his passport. Emilio (who looks very “Arab”) handed it over, and the security officer asked him where he was from. Says Emilio – “The guy had my passport in his hand, and he barks at me, where you from? I say, look at my passport. He says, tell me, where you from? I say, look at my passport. He says, why wont you tell me where you’re from? And I say – well, you know, you stole one country, I don’t want to lose another one!”
What happened then? We ask. Emilio laughs, “Oh, the guy, he just flung the passport right at my face.”
One small hiccup.
Magid tells of being at a checkpoint at which an old Jordanian man was painfully getting out of his taxi to walk through the corridor. Magid decided not to take it as simply routine. He asked the young security officer – “Why not let him sit in the taxi?”
“It is not permitted,” said the guard coldly and expressionlessly.
“Look at him”, Magid persisted, “he can barely stand.”
“It is not permitted,” the guard repeated.
“Come on,” Magid demanded, “Would they treat you like this in Jordan?”
Goaded, the guard finally burst out with – “Do you know they shoot gay men in Jordan?”
Hanh? you may well exclaim – what does that have to do with anything? Well, it does. Israel claims to be the only democracy in West Asia because it is “secular” (not Islamic) and because it respects diversity, especially queer rights. It’s interesting that a checkpoint guard should have had that line down pat – is it part of their training, perhaps? (Or to be more charitable, perhaps he was gay himself.)
But as Haneen Maikay, the director of Palestinian queer group Al Qaws, has said, “When you go through a checkpoint it does not matter what the sexuality of the soldier is.”
We’ll get down to deconstructing Israel’s ‘secularism’ in the next post, but the queer friendliness is easily exposed. Yes, friendly to “queer people” – to Israeli (Jewish) queer people. (Although, in fact, sodomy and homosexuality were illegal in Israel until 1988, while homosexuality has been decriminalized in the West Bank since the 1950s, when anti-sodomy laws imposed under British colonial influence were removed from the Jordanian penal code, which Palestinians follow.)
Jasbir Puar terms this “homonationalism” – the coming together of racist nationalism with queer politics:
Israeli pinkwashing is a potent method through which the terms of Israeli occupation of Palestine are reiterated – Israel is civilised, Palestinians are barbaric, homophobic, uncivilised, suicide-bombing fanatics. It produces Israel as the only gay-friendly country in an otherwise hostile region. This has manifold effects: it denies Israeli homophobic oppression of its own gays and lesbians, of which there is plenty...
The global queer movement opposed to Israel’s Occupation and Apartheid holds that pinkwashing not only manipulates the hard-won gains of Israel’s gay community, but it also ignores the existence of a growing Palestinian queer movement and gay-rights organizations such as Aswat, Al Qaws and Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. These groups are clear that the oppression of Palestinians crosses the boundary of sexuality
This understanding exists too, among sections within Israel. As Yuval Ben-Ami, Israeli cultural critic points out, Israel’s Gay Pride parade estranges many who experience discrimination on grounds other than sexual orientation, as well as those aware of the discrimination that others face.
Similarly, Aeyal Gross, a professor of law at Tel Aviv University, argues that “gay rights have essentially become a public-relations tool,” even though “conservative and especially religious politicians remain fiercely homophobic.”
Rabbi Alpert, a member of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinic Cabinet, has spoken publicly against Israel’s “pinkwashing”: the exploitation of Israel’s reputation as a champion of gay rights in order to rebut claims that it is a major violator of Palestinian rights. In an interview, Alpert said that what troubled her was that Israel claimed to be a Jewish state and homeland for world Jewry. As such, it speaks in her name and this she could not allow. Gays historically have known dispossession and being stripped of rights as human beings. Therefore, she said, they identify with those, like the Palestinians, who have none.
(By the way, ‘homonationalism” is a trend noticeable within Indian queer politics too – Hindu Right-wing assertions that Hinduism has never been homophobic, only Islam has been. For a discussion, See my “Outing Heteronormativity” .)
But my last checkpoint story here is Chic Point, the needlesharp, painful take of artist Sharif Waked on this quintessential Palestinian experience. Sharif Waked was born in Nazareth to a Palestinian refugee family from the village of Mjedil. He lives and works in Haifa/Nazareth.
Chic Point is a seven minute video that “ponders, imagines, and interrogates ‘fashion for Israeli checkpoints’.”
Image from Chic Point (Photo by Jeremy Keas)
Body parts – lower backs, chests, abdomens – peek through holes, gaps, and splits woven into ready-made garments. The clothes are designed to preempt those daily and prevailing imperatives of Israeli soldiers, who order Palestinians to lift clothes and expose their flesh – the “hiding grounds” for bombs – as they cross the intricate and expanding network of military checkpoints. Commonly understood by the Israeli army as dangerous weapon, the Palestinian’s body serves as a pretext for a border from which he may be observed.
“As the sights and sounds of the fast paced catwalk dim to a close,” in Waked’s words:
A series of stills taken from the years 2000 to 2003 display Palestinian men traversing the profoundly violent but highly common Israeli checkpoint. One man after another lifts shirts, robes, and jackets. Some kneel shirtless, others naked, with guns poised at their exposed flesh. Men in Jenin, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Kalandiya, Jerusalem, Hebron, Nablus, and Gaza City wrangle with the Israeli state’s security apparatus.
Image from Chic Point (Photo from Mapping Diasporas)
“Each land has its time for being born/Each dawn a date with a rebel.”
Portrait of Mahmoud Darwish in the Mahmoud Darwish Museum (Al Birweh Park) in Ramallah, West Bank, which opened to the public this year. Al-Birweh is the village in which the dearly beloved Palestinian poet was born. It was occupied and depopulated in 1948 by Israeli forces. Its inhabitants became refugees, some in Lebanon, some internally displaced and designated present-absentees. In 1949, an Israeli Kibbutz was established. A year later a settlement was built on the lands of al-Birweh. (Photo AN/NM)
Don’t say to me:
Would I were a seller of bread in Algiers
That I might sing with a rebel.
Don’t say to me:
Would I were a herdsman in the Yemen
That I might sing to the shudderings of time.
Don’t say to me:
Would I were a cafe waiter in Havana
That I might sing the victories of sorrowing women.
Don’t say to me:
Would I worked as a young labourer in Aswan
That I might sing to the rocks.
The Nile will not flow into the Volga,
Nor the Congo or the Jordan into the Euphrates.
Each river has its source, its course, its life.
My friend, our land is not barren.
Each land has its time for being born.
Each dawn a date with a rebel.
Translation by Denys Johnson-Davies
May Jayussi of Muwatin, Palestine Institute for the Study of Democracy, said to us that when she returned to Palestine in the 1980’s, one soldier with a gun was enough to keep a lot of Palestinians in control. Three decades on, today, although at one level things seemed more hopeless, she said – “Yet, it takes a Wall, it takes innumerable checkpoints, a huge coercive machinery to keep Israeli Occupation going.”
One day, we ran into one of Magid and Sunaina’s friends. How are you, Magid asked.
“I’m waiting,” was the response. “I’m waiting for the Third Intifada.”
Graffiti in Ramallah (Photo AN/NM)