Many many days from now
I shall find the one whom I have been seeking.
I shall find the peace I have been seeking
And draw my full measure of peace.
(from In Praise of Peace of Mind by Daliah Rabikovitch)
This Spotlight aims to illuminate ‘the other', to make present - even if slightly - the voice and words of those checked at the checkpoints, forced to stand at the checkpoints, subjected to the arbitrary brutish gun and the one who wields it - their aspirations, frustrations, anger and pain.
It is written honoring those who have now been surviving the Israeli Occupation for over a generation, those who emerge out of their anonymity into our field of vision and into our hearts, and then vanish again into the brackish reality of their fragile everyday life.
I am 37 years old, he says. This is how it is ever since I was little. I go to sleep at night thinking about this checkpoint. This is not life. I can't go on like this. Ever since I was little I'm being told tomorrow will be alright. I am already 37 years old, I will not be alright. For full report press here.
I am 35 years old and I have not yet had one good day in my life... (The man speaking crossed the checkpoint with his wife and three children. He lives in Ramallah, owns a restaurant, and every day on his way to work he must cross three checkpoints.) For full report press here.
Two men were working renovating a building next to where we were standing. One of them said: When it (Occupation) came I was 13 years old. He took off his cap and showed us his white hair. People say such is life. This is life? This is death. (and offered us water). For full report press here.
Protest of the individual, the description of his helplessness facing reality - is concise. Whether because Hebrew is not his own language, or because of the physical circumstances of our encounter. At times he speaks in the first person singular, talking about himself and his own lot, at others he speaks for a larger public that shares his misfortune:
We only need bread for the children.
Driver: This is no democracy, there are no rights, you have a heart of stone that pulls everything down to hell! For full report press here.
One of the fellows burst out: We mustn't talk, we mustn't stand, we mustn't breathe, everything is forbidden. Life is shit. Look at this here, I left Jenin to go to Ramallah. It's going to take me over an hour. I cross about 10 checkpoints on the way. He has three children and makes his living as a real estate agent. For full report press here.
A young Palestinian passes us by and mutters: Here terrorism is produced. For full report press here.
A young man approaches me: This checkpoint is a university. Here they teach us how to kill life itself. For full report press here.
A long line of 50 vehicles waits to enter the town. This is the only entry into a town numbering about 45,000 inhabitants. "Qalqiliya is like a bottle, and this is its bottleneck" says one of the taxi drivers at the taxi park next to the checkpoint. For full report press here.
Antum maujudin, nihna Kaman maujudin! Meaning "you exist, we (the Palestinians), too, exist. For full report press here.
A taxi driver passing through complains that he is forced to bare his belly in front of everyone in order to cross the checkpoint, as in Hamra CP. The fact that this happens every day does not diminish the humiliation one bit. He says: An Arab stands at the checkpoint, the Israeli sits inside his air-conditioned cabin. For full report press here.
Some of the words are uttered, others are voiceless, bared in a glance or in body language. The last speak of one's silences, singed as flames in the living flesh:
A young man, apparently a university student (bearing notebooks and bag) approaches the checking post. The metal detector bleeps. He is turned back, takes off his shoes, required to show them to the MP. He displays the soles. Puts the shoes back on. His ID is in the hands of the MP. Okay, he has cleared the body inspection. Now he has to remove his clothes from his bag. Another garment, another t-shirt are on show for the MP. This test, too, he withstands. Now he gets back his ID, placed on his clothes. He holds it, and bangs the counter with it in smoldering anger. He packs his clothes in his bag again, and holding his belt in his bands, hurries away from the checkpoint, face flushed, avoiding eye contact with others. For full report press here.
Those who have had no human rights since they were born are fighting a losing battle for the remains of their dignity:
In the parallel universe. Our ears are still echoing the voice of a man who bothers to approach us and ask, angrily, what is so funny that it makes the soldiers burst out laughing when he shows them his ID through the plated glass window of the checking post. For full report press here.
As we were about to leave, we heard a woman-soldier on the Palestinian side of the checkpoint yelling, and a young couple came out and turned to us in anger: It isn't right that this soldier yells like that, not even considering saying ‘please'. In our culture adults are not addressed so rudely! You must speak to her. You're right, in our culture too this is considered improper. For full report press here.
Even just the heat of this day in this oppressive place, as the sweltering asphalt sends its waves back to us and the silent apathy of those present who are sick and tired of complaining... So don't bother us with superfluous questions about what happened and how things were. This is our life. Trash. Don't you see? Yes, we "see", our sight fails in helplessness and despair. For full report press here.
The daily confrontation with the reality of Occupation makes people grow up prematurely. When does a Palestinian child become a youth? At what age is a youth considered an adult?
He cried when they took him away. He cried when they took him away, his cousin told me. I told him this was to be expected of someone taken away by the police. No, said the cousin, it's because he is little. I no longer cry. I've gotten used to it... For full report press here.
One of the students points at the crossing, covered with iron bars, and voices his own personal dream: I wish to be a Superman, it gives you wings...
When the State of Israel began its Operation "Cast Lead", expressions of anger became stronger, and helplessness waxed into enormous pain. Their feelings of solidarity and shared destiny with their brothers in Gaza pushed us far away from them, saying - we're the Palestinians, you're the Israelis.
Today I'm not shaking your hand. Your children are killing us, an acquaintance said to me as I entered the checkpoint. For full report press here.
What's up? - Tough, what's happening in Gaza. Have you been to Gaza? -No, I'm Israeli, I'm not allowed to enter. -You're allowed. Come with a tank, a plane, come in...
Taxi drivers asked us: Why? What's going on now? Why hurt us again? Palestinians are asking: Are you happy with what you see?
A man addresses us in desperation, concluding: Finally I'll tell the fish to enjoy themselves... But he reassured us right away that he only meant it for those (Israelis) who killed our children in Gaza. For full report press here.
Beyond the talking, in the shade of reality, doubt and questions hover: will the son come home from his classes, and the father from his work? Will the grandchildren arrive safely at the home of their old grandmother? Will the patient reach the hospital in time, at all? So many question marks, so little certainty.
Translated by Tal Haran