By Shlomo Bloom
Today I arrived at Qalandia checkpoint on my way to Jerusalem from Ramallah and got in line behind about 15 Palestinians. The line moved at a slow but steady pace until two people showed their IDs to the soldiers behind the glass and an argument in Hebrew began. It was clear the Palestinians were having trouble communicating in Hebrew so one of them asked if the soldiers spoke English. The conversation then continued in English and I was surprised to hear this Palestinian talking in an extremely assertive manner with the soldiers. He talked like an American I thought, Palestinians don’t tend to be quite as sassy with the soldiers. The problem was very clear. The American man’s relative was not being allowed through the checkpoint. Apparently the relative had an appointment in Jerusalem to get a visa to go to America, but he did not have an ID that allowed him into Jerusalem.
Basically, depending on where you live is the controlling factor on where you can travel. if you are Palestinian and do not live in “Israel” (this includes all of occupied east Jerusalem which was unilaterally annexed to Israel) you can’t go to Jerusalem. Never mind that it is Islam’s 3rd holiest city… if you live in the west bank, you cannot go there.
So, he needed an ID that says he can go to Jerusalem. And He didn’t have one.. so he can’t go there no matter what, even if he has business there.
This reminds me of a friend of mine who had to appear in court in Jerusalem a few months back. He did not have a Jerusalem ID and was not going to be allowed into Jerusalem. But if he did not appear in court, he would have been arrested. So, he had to “sneak” into Jerusalem.. walk around the wall, basically.. He had to enter illegally so he would not be arrested. It’s ridiculous.
And yeah, to get a visa to go to the US, apparently you must go to Jerusalem…
The two men were showing the soldier a piece of paper which seemed to state that the man did have an appointment today. The soldiers did not care. They refused to let him through.
“How is he supposed to get his visa if you won’t let him through ?” The American argued. The soldiers simply refused. This continued for a few minutes and then I asked the American-speaking man if he was, indeed American. He said yes. I told him “I am too, I’ll try to talk to the soldiers for you if they let me through.” He asked the soldiers to let me through and they refused.
Eventually the two men were forced to give up and go back. The American said they had been waiting two months for this appointment.
When it was my turn to show my passport to the soldiers I chastised them for not letting the two men though. “He clearly had an appointment in Jerusalem, why can’t you let him through to go to the appointment ?” I asked.
Want to guess what the answer was ?
I’ll give you a hint- this is the answer they give to any question you ask “Why did you beat this man ?” “Why is this man detained ?” “Why are you searching this little girl’s backpack ?” “What are you doing invading this family’s home ?”
As my friend thalya pointed out it is also the answer to the fallowing questions-
“Why did the NSA go trawling through millions of phone records of american citizens making domestic calls?”
“Why are an unknown number of young soldiers being held indefinitely without charge in Guantanemo?”
“Why does the Patriot act give the government the power to review records of who is checking out what books from a library?”
“Why are we planning to bomb and/or invade Iran despite the fact that they have never threatened and could never threaten the U.S. and clearly do not posess nuclear weapons?”
“Why were all the ‘intellectuals’ in NAZI Germany arrested and imprisoned?”
“Why was Tibet occupied by the Chinese?”
The answer of course is- “Security.”