Beit Iba, Sun 1.2.09, Afternoon
"I couldn't care less" was a phrase we heard a number of times today. Something in the air? A Palestinian carpenter who just wants to get on with his craft "couldn't care less about elections." The response of a reservist soldier to the Australian Open Final result evoked a similar, more understandable, response (tennis, who cares)? On the other hand, another reservist, insisting on engaging in a discussion about Gaza showed just how much he cared, and just how much he valued the life of one (Israeli) compared to the lives of many (children) - who happened to be Palestinian. Of course, at one level, this caring or not caring has to do with concern or interest in anything or anybody other than the self, showing either a complete indifference to what's going on in the world or any kind of ability to share in the suffering of others. At the same time, there's a feeling that certain vague but unpleasant emotions, manifested by moodiness, not being fond of anything much, are based on a fear or anxiety, experienced in anticipation of some kind of ill-defined misfortune. And this is shared by both occupied and occupier.
14:30 Beit Iba
Wintry rain, students carrying armfuls of workbooks, men putting back belts, tucking in shirts, tying shoes or putting sweaters back in place, a long line of male students, 30-40, at one turnstile, a shrieking military policewoman and a commander telling us who he is and what we can do ("Don't talk to soldiers, ask me questions") make this checkpoint seem more than ever an example of what this Occupation is all about. The evidence is conclusive: the solider standing by the fast lane knows not what to do with many passing men, gazing at their IDs a long time without understanding (or caring). The DCL representative comes to his rescue and tells him. Then leaves, not only this soldier, but Beit Iba.
In the fast lane, the women students are not checked at all, just the men, old as well as young. In the vehicle checking area, desultory but not thorough checking of the little traffic that passes in either direction.