Saturday, May 12, 2007

Pursuing Injustice - Restricting Movement - Part 4

Today is Day 14,273 of the Maintenance of the Immoral (and Illegal) West Bank Settlements and almost the 40th anniversary of the start of the immoral (and illegal) occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Rabbi Akiva - “ ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ (Leviticus 19:18 - this is the major principle of the Torah.”

Pursuing Injustice - Restricting Movement - Part 4

From even further back in the archives comes this.

For one month in early 2003, Marty Federman, a Jewish citizen of the United States, traveled in Israel and Palestine. I was fortunate enough to have received by e-mail the series of 14 journals he sent during his time there. Each was remarkable, often 2-3 single pages in length. I was so impressed with his ability to recall at the end of a day or two the details of his experience and to so beautifully give us such insight into his feelings that I have kept them in a folder ever since. (Although I have given instructions to my “staff” to delete them in the event any phishing expedition request is received from the Attorney General of the United States or the local Jewish Federation. Just kidding!!)

Here is Journal 04 dated Monday, January 13, 2003, Tulkarem

"Some (really sobering) thoughts about traveling alone

"Traveling in Palestine is always difficult, and getting worse. But traveling alone has unexpected dimensions. Of course I knew that it would be somewhat scarier not being familiar with the area, the procedures, and the possibilities. And given my pretty much non-existent Arabic, the absence of up-to-date maps, and the fact that so much travel takes place off designated roads, it always feels as if I may end up miles away from where I want to be.

"What I did not expect – and frankly was not prepared for – is a certain amount of paranoia. As I travel, taking taxis, crossing borders, passing checkpoints, walking, finding other taxis, crossing more borders, passing more checkpoints, walking more, I find some more than uncomfortable feelings bubbling up. I’m not surprised at my feeling about the border crossings, roadblocks, and checkpoints or the soldiers that may be there. I’ve experienced these before, and I’ve struggled with the layers of conflicting feelings. Israel has the right (even responsibility) to protect its citizens, and there are Palestinian terrorists that want to go into Israel and kill people. But so many of the “border crossings” only require security because of Israel’s presence (to protect settlements and the roads & infrastructure they require). I also realize that much of my anger is a response to the reality that the vast majority of roadblocks have no security value at all, and only serve to make life miserable for anyone trying to get anywhere. And clearly the arbitrariness and uncertainty of the crossings feed my innate sense of fairness, not to mention my legendary lack of patience.

"Also, what becomes more and more clear, is the reality that these are Jewish soldiers, the designated protectors of a state that was supposed to be different from other nations in its defense of justice, not the creation and support of oppression. Each time I am stopped and questioned by these barely post-pubescent guardians of false security, I want to hold them tight and make them see how they are being used (for they are, in their own way, also victims of this madness) by patently un-Jewish men in Jerusalem. But each time, out of a combined sense of prudence and cowardice, I choose to hold my tongue, wait deferentially, and move on when permitted.

"[This afternoon, going through the checkpoint near Tulkarem, we gave our passports to two soldiers. Three of us were waved through easily, but ..(a companion).. was asked for her visa, which she didn’t have. The soldiers began asking questions, but seemed ready to let her go when a third soldier, obviously with more authority, came over to see what was going on. He really began to hassle ..(her) .. until suddenly, as if he just didn’t want to deal with anything, he waved her through. As we walked on, I was amazed to realize that when …(she) …was waved through, my first reaction was a sense of relief, and I had almost thanked the soldiers, as if they were entitled to some recognition of their leniency and kindness! It is beyond frightening to realize how easy it is to slip into this compliant, deferential state of mind. How can Palestinians deal with this every day without losing their entire sense of person-ness?]

"What I do know is that people are right when they say that the occupation corrupts. It corrupts everything and everyone it touches, the perpetrators and the victims alike. And none of us who have experienced its contamination will travel comfortably until everyone here can move without fear and humiliation."

That fear and humiliation will end when the squatterments are dismantled and the occupation is ended.

Deutoronomy 16:20 – “Justice, justice shall you pursue that you may live and inherit the land which God gave you” and the footnote in the 1980 Hertz Edition “(T)here is international justice, which demands respect for the personality of every national group, and proclaims that no people can of right be robbed of its national life or territory, its language or spiritual heritage.

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