The Road to Jerusalem

The road to Jerusalem from Ramallah, starts to go very bumpy as you leave Ramallah’s borders. The Ramallah municipality has offered to pave it quite a few times since 1994 but Jerusalem Municipality, which claims jurisdiction over that section has refused since the Eastern part of the city has been illegally annexed to Israel in 1981. However, since it is a just-for-Arabs street, it does not matter if it is paved or not.
Anyway, the situation goes on until you reach Qalandia, where the road block which was turned into a border crossing sits. From there, a big ugly grey concrete wall stands dividing the road into two sections, on the right, is what they keep and the left is what we share. Quite a fair split! Especially considering that we are talking about Palestinian land on both sides of the wall.
Anyway, I keep going down that road, then up and around the other road block, the final one which separates me from Jerusalem. I get called by a blond policewoman and a soldier.

“Where are you going?”, she asks. “Jerusalem.” I answer. “why?” “To see a friend.” “Can I see your passport?”, the question, I was waiting for! “I don’t have one!” “ID card?” so I walk to get my bag from the bike, and as I approach them again, she asked “Blue or Green?”, so confidently, as if it is the ‘right’ answer, I say “green!”

That’s where all the troubles began. “So you are illegal here?” she says. “Excuse me?” “You know it is illegal for you to be here.” She says as if this whole situation is legal. “Not illegal, it is just racist.” I answer. “Racist?” as if it is the first time she hears the word, “you should have a permit to be here, these are the laws!” So I answer to that, “The laws are racist, then! Why should I need a permit to visit my birthplace.”  She tries to answer to that “if you were born here how come you don’t have a blue ID or permit?” I thought the answer to that was very simple, they don’t want us there, do they? But still she argues, like she is not aware of where we live.

And she goes on “my father has one, he is a Muslim, and he gets a permit to stay with his family,” thinking that this would be the perfect example to give to shut me up. “I feel sorry for your father, but that’s racist too!” I added.

“But this is our country and we have to protect it...” and for some reason she didn’t add the ‘from terrorists’ cliché. But it is our country too. “How come you don’t have a blue ID then?” very simple, again. “Because you came in with your guns, and decided these people get blue, those get green! And that was that!”.

“So, say you had an independent Palestine, would you chose to live in Palestine or Israel?” my answer for that was more than ready. “I don’t want Palestine and Israel. We both should have one country amongst us.” And she jumps in with her new question “One country? But what will we call it?”, “I don’t know maybe The Holy Land?” She smiled as she translated the new name into Hebrew for the soldier.

“You know, I think I agree with you! This is a racist country! Because we say it is a Jewish country and many people who live in it are not Jewish.” She admitted, adding “You know when a Jew comes he immediately receives an ID card. While non-Jews can’t. We were born in Azerbijan, my mum is Jewish and my dad is Muslim, when we moved here, we all got Israeli ID cards, except my dad. He lives here on a family reunification permit, because he is not Jewish.” Well, that’s exactly what I am talking about. And not only that, but thousands and thousands of other stories of the same sort.

It was a good experience today!


Anonymous said...

Wow, that is really interesting. I have yet to have a deep conversation like that with an Israeli, let alone an Israeli soildier. You are right, we should have one country, we can call it Palesrael. Its the only way to go, we cannot keep on this way. Allah ma3ak wma3 sha3bna falastini. SA

Ned said...

Names don't matter, the essence of the place is what's of more importance. Thanks anyway.

natan said...

Hi Ned!

What you just described reminded me about my experience in Israel last February. I guess I shouldn't be calling this country rasist because of being Jewish myself entitles me to certain privileges as I had a chance to learn while entering it on a visa which had expired 2 years prior to my entry.

An officer at the entry point in Eilat questioned me in Hebrew and I managed to answer correctly using my basic knowledge of the language I learned to a certain degree years ago. This led to another question " Are you Jewish" which was rather a formality because of my typical Jewish first and last names. So after being questioned about why I wanted to visit Israel I got a stamp in my passport which allowed me to stay there for the next few days.

I imagine if somebody else was there on my place....I mean a Muslim or even a Christian fellow the outcome wouldn't have been that positive.

The other thing was that I decided to ''break'' the law after consulting with a friend of mine in Gaza which I intended to enter from Egypt. After having spent one week in El Arish and 2 unsuccessful attempts to penetrate the border with 2 Americans I got my friend's advise to try Israel. When I told him that I don't have a visa he said not to worry ,they let you in anyway because you are Jewish.

So it worked except I coudn't tell them a real reason for my entry. The end of the story.....Erez crossing wasn'tt more welcoming than Rafah but at least I learned something about the system.

Ned said...

Thank you Natan. What you just described really makes the point i was trying to make. I am always intrigued by people like you who can take a be more critical of Israel's policy. One comment, the fact that this policy was beneficial to you does not really make it less racist. it just proves that it is because while you were allowed in on a expired visa, Americans (or other western nationality holders) of Palestinian origin are only allowed a non renewable three months entry, after which they can't come in again for a year. This is hitting hard on many Palestinians who are residing here on their visas since they lost their Palestinian residency (as a result of other discriminatory laws).

Dr@ma Div@ said...

thank God that Malaysia dont have any political link with Israel. All Malaysian passport holders are banned from entering Israel..and I got no problem with that... :P

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