April 05, 2006

Writing from the Wall

Here's a letter from an Israeli Palestinian (who speaks Hebrew) to her friends in the UK. The little boy in the letter, Rani, is my friend's stepson.

I have no words to explain the situation we are facing starting last night. AlRam, Bir Nabala (where I live), Aldahiya and other neighborhoods are totally blocked. They actually closed the gates in the Wall. Although we knew it was coming, still the reality is overwhelming, and the idea that they have actually done so in the midst of scholastic year is beyond comprehension. There is no exit for us now except to go all the way to Ramallah through driving about 30km in the mountains, and stand in a queue for a long time at Qalandya Terminal (new fancy name for Qalandya checkpoint). This morning I had to send Rani (my 6 years old son) to school by taxi that waited for him on the other side of the checkpoint. He had to actually cross the checkpoint walking, in the rain, by himself. It was a devastating experience for a child waiving good bye to me and feeling so insecure surrounded by soldiers. I watched with tears on my face. The soldiers were looking at him, and I could tell they were embarrased.

This morning, feeling so frustrated being imprisoned for no reason, the sense of humiliation of a collective punishment, the feeling of helplessness, I walked to the checkpoint to just speak to the soldiers. Just to have some dialogue with them. I did not intend to exit, thus I did not try to 'gain' their mercy to let me out. I just needed to talk. Just wanted to understand how they implement a strategy that does not make sense even to them. There are hundreds of children who must go to schools on the other side every single morning. There are workers, families, hospitals etc... communities where more than 80 thousand people live are totally blocked. They all woke up one morning to be told: "I am sorry you cannot exit".

While my heart was crying over the situation of Palestinians, I felt so devastated listening to the frustration of the soldiers. They were so glad someone was there to listen to them in their own language. Not having to find broken words of English and Arabic, and some vocabulary to just explain to people what is going on. Hundreds of people were gathering there to negotiate with them to let them out. Listening to one story after another, for a whole day, must be difficult. Having to actually execute orders which they have received from 'above', (as they told me) from someone who has probably never been here, must be frustrating. The orders of course did not take into consideration that it is not only about punishing the Palestinians for no reason, but it is also about young soldiers who will have to cope with actual human suffering, dilemmas, moral conflicts, when facing children and workers every moment. It is such an absurd situation, the suffering on both sides, for simply POLITICAL power struggles.

One soldier informed me that the whole area will be closed within days...He said; "do you think I enjoy what I am doing??? Do you think I do not have better things to do in life other than executing the orders of Olmert???" , and he added: "You don't get it!!! It is Olmert's policy, from now on, the Palestinians will have to speak to the Wall"... and he continues: "What are you doing here anyway??? Why don't you move to the right side of the Wall?”

The tiny consolation is probably that the soldiers are embarrassed at what they are being made to do; but still that is nothing compared to the humiliation and repression of basic human rights.

What a heartbreaking world we live in where we can't find room for two peoples to live in peace. My heart aches, especially as my Jewish friends are on the eve of celebrating their own ancient story of freedom from slavery, The Pessah Holiday. I am invited this week to so many dinners on tables of my Israeli Jewish friends. I suppose that my joy will have to be postponed this year, knowing that the freedom of one nation is coming at the expense of my own.

On a personal level, we are not sure how to proceed as a family. We do have many practical options, but human life is not only about being practical. Our warm flat, the spirit in the house, the memories where we united with family and friends from different races and nationalities is giving me a sense of loss already. Now I can understand what becoming a refugee is like. Being forced to leave is painful, even if we have solutions. Not to mention the financial aspects. It seems that we will have to look for another place on the 'right side' of the Wall... Where??? I have not answers yet, but we are working on it.

I am sorry I appear so overwhelmed and confused. Please find the time to come visit... You will see actually what the Final Status Solution is all about!

With best wishes

Samar


Solution to what?

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