Sunday, June 28, 2009

Returning to the Occupation

I just returned from my weekend in Jordan and fully intended to write all about it, but I swear to god, as soon as I crossed the border into Israel/Palestine/the West Bank/whathaveyou, I became mentally exhausted. There were a total of at least 9 checkpoints in the roughly five mile span between the Jordan river and Jericho. I say "at least 9" because I lost count. My passport was handled by so many different people it probably has an STD by now.

I really do intend to write a play-by-play of the whole experience, but at this point, I only have the druthers to share one small portion of it.

On the bus from the Israeli side of the border to Jericho, I was seated next to a Mr. Bassam Aramin, co-founder of Combatants for Peace. He politely asked to sit next to me, and then lapsed into an exhausted silence. We arrived at the second of the day's Palestinian checkpoints, where a border guard boarded the bus and asked to take everyone's papers. When I handed him mine, he spoke to me in Arabic, and I asked the kindly man next to me what he said.

"He says foreigners should take the bus straight through to Jerusalem, and not this way. It is what the Israelis want." He paused and added, "It generates money for them, you know, the transport. And they don't want foreigners to see this." He shook his head and as he focused on something far outside the window, he said sadly, "Another face of the occupation."

We got to talking, and he revealed that his 10 year old daughter was shot and killed by the Israeli military outside of her school two years ago. News reports about the incident say she was caught in the crossfire between soldiers and Palestinian stone throwers.

Here is an excellent article about Mr. Aramin and the beginnings of Combatants for Peace.

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