Archive for September, 2007

September 22, 2007

The Dahir al Bariit checkpoint was open today, open for Ramadan, explained an English-speaking Palestinian Jerusalemite on the servis.

I ask how he got his Jeru ID. He explains that he born in Jerusalem and was living there in 1967 when Israel took over and occupied the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. Elaborating, he mentions how families were split after the Occupation: Maybe someone from Khalil (Hebron) had gone to Jerusalem. Israel registered them as living in Jerusalem, while their families were still in Khalil.

“Are you glad you have Israeli ID?” I asked him.

“I’m from Jerusalem,” he replied. “I don’t care if I have Israeli or Palestinian ID. I love the land, not the label.”

Our servis is stopped, traffic at a crawl. A man outside leans over and taps the door with his small hand-saw. The driver opens the door with a warm “Ramadan Kariim!” to his sawdusty craftsman friend, then to his 12 year old boy. They chat, exchanging further greetings, for a few minutes while traffic ahead starts to move again. Chatting a bit more, they bid goodbyes and the servis begins its crawl again.

None of the passengers uttered a complaint or were visibly put out by the exchange’s slight delay. Likely they would have done the same in the driver’s place

September 16, 2007

“They’re to waste your time. It costs money: half an hour, that’s half an hour of work, of your life gone,” the Jerusalem ID-carrying Palestinian told me. From just outside of Jerusalem, to get to work in the old city, where he sells hand-made jewelry, he must daily travel in the opposite direction, to Qalendia checkpoint, to then travel anew in the correct direction. Before the checkpoints and the Wall, his trip to Jerusalem was an easy one.

He, too, sees little security in the so-dubbed ‘security barrier’: “If there’s a will, there’s a way. If somebody wants to go over the Wall, they can.”

He talks about how the Occupation has changed not only daily life for Palestinians, but also life related to surrounding travel venues: “When my father was young and went to Damascus Gate (in Jerusalem), the taxi drivers called ‘Amman, Beirut, Baghdad….’ When I was younger and went to Damascus Gate, the taxi drivers called ‘Eriha (Jericho), Nablus, Khalil (Hebron)….’ Now, when my son goes to Damascus gate, the drivers call ‘Machsom Qalendia, Machsom Bethlehem (Qalendia checkpoint, Bethlehem checkpoint)….’

It gets smaller and smaller and smaller, our permitted area of travel.”

The road from Qalendia to Jerusalem normally involved a delay, in which the Border Police do another security check. Then, it’s just a matter of traffic…

Today, that stretch of road has a flying roadblock, possibly in place because of meetings with Condi Rice. If so, that is another irony in the endless, fruitless, staged peace talks: disruption of even an already disrupted journey.

The roadblock entails re-routing a re-routed entry to Jerusalem. The detour means that people already detouring from Ar Ram to Beit Hanina –just around the corner but out of reach due to the Wall and checkpoints –must further detour. The bus then has to backtrack to drop of these greatly-delayed passengers.

Back, all the way to the Dahiir al Bariit back exit, all because that particular exit is closed. It is closed, and yet one can evidently get dangerously close to it.