Monday, January 16, 2006

Occupation=Racism

Welcome to Palestine. Land of the forgotten. Before I left for this journey everyone asked me why I was traveling to the Occupied Territories. What did I expect to see? I wanted to see the face of violence. I wanted to see the war. I wanted to know the truth. That is what I said.

Do I now know the truth? I'm not sure. I did see the war though, and I now know what violence truly looks like. I thought Israelis were unhappy. I know that Israel suffers too. Believe me, I know. Suicide bombers are inexcusable. They are undeniably the single worst tactic/most harmful act that Palestinian militants have undertaken. They make penance for these unspeakable acts everyday in the form of sanctions, human rights violations, imprisonment, and "ghettoization."

This is what you see from the inside of one of the various checkpoints that dot the expansionist extremities of Israel's new borders, that is, the Israel side of the wall. I took photographs of the other side of this checkpoint, people trying to get out, but I was detained at gunpoint by Israeli military and forced to delete my photographs. As for people trying to get into the West Bank, as you can see from this photo, it's not very busy. Israelis are not particularly interested in seeing the suffering of the Palestinian people it seems, maybe it's because they are forced into witnessing and committing these unspeakable acts as soldiers? And I thought I was against the draft before...

As for the Palestinians themselves, they are prohibited from traveling to and from the West Bank with out some sort of permit. As of 2008, there will not be a single Palestinian refugee (ie a Palestinian without Israeli citizenship) with a permit to work in the state of Israel. Palestinians are being actively forced into smaller and smaller living spaces. Their economy has been decimated. The unemployment rate hovers somewhere around 70%. They are subject to Israeli military occupation, Israeli military police, and Israeli police jurisdiction. They are prohibited from building outside of "Area A," which are dense urban centers falling under direct control of the Palestinian Authority. Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jenin, Nablus, Hebron, they are becoming more and more crowded as Palestinians flee the countryside to escape the aggression of racist settlers. Hebron is a case where the settlers are occupying even parts of Area A, hence all the headlines recently. I have seen the violence with my own eyes. It's no coincidence that it's women and young girls you see being pulled away by the military. They are sent out to spit on and otherwise assault Palestinians, because they know that if a Palestinian were to touch a hair on one of their heads, they would be faced with punishment with impunity. Home demolitions, imprisonment, search and seizure, torture, close of business, you name it. The Supreme Court of Israel is unable to reign in the military, the checks and balances are non-functional when it comes to the jurisdiction of the Occupied Territories.

Someone left an anonymous comment on my blog criticizing me for suggesting that I might be able to understand the motivation behind suicide bombings. I stand by my words. It doesn't make it right. There is no right here. There are no justifications for the attrocities that each side has committed against humanity. I do not feel responsible for the sins of the Arab nations, I do not attempt to claim that they have created utopian nations. However, I do feel responsible for the sins of the Jewish nation, and I know that what Israel is doing right now in the West Bank are the worst of human rights violations I have ever witnessed. If you don't believe me, come and see for yourself.