Beit Iba, Jit, Sun 27.4.08, Afternoon
The terms "behavior" and "conduct" are closely related. Both deal with
a person's actions. The former is something we see or hear, and the
latter has a normative attribute, taking on expectations of a social,
sometimes of a moral kind. Today we saw behavior of soldiers at
checkpoints that was both dreadful and unacceptable, soldiers who
behaved exceedingly "badly." Their conduct lacked all manner of
civility, respect or compassion. These soldiers of the Occupation
displayed nothing but rude, offensive and merciless behavior.
14:50 -- Jit Junction: no checkpoint, but the way to Beit Iba
indicates the same number of earth mounds as ever.
15:00 Deir Sharaf
We have confirmed to us that the checkpoint was closed "for a while"
earlier in the day, and we also hear that, checkpoint "Sabataash"
(Seventeen), between Asira and Nablus "may be open," i.e. gotten rid
of, "tomorrow, emshallah."
15:30 Beit Iba
The commander, who wears no visible rank badges, tells us that "a bag
was left at the checkpoint." He is quick also to tell us that since
he wasn't there at the time, he can tell us no more.
A teacher, who's been on an outing with 50 high school students, waits
patiently for them to pass through the long line at the turnstiles. He
complains to us that he's been there for over an hour, that the
students, 17 year olds, were all taken off the bus, and that, despite
his pleading, it was impossible for them to be checked as a group:
each one was being checked individually. "Why did they have to get
off the bus?"
We seek out the commander, who insists on going by the book and in not
15:40 -- a man, while putting back his belt after checking, comes
over, "I'm here every day. When it's crowded, as now, they pass me.
When it's not crowded, they check my ID carefully. One of these days I
expect them to say that I have to be 60 to pass in the `fast' lane.
This is NOT security." We agree. This is harassment, of which there is
15:45 -- a soldier manhandles two young men, marching them off a
minibus, talking to them brusquely, rudely, pointing to them to go to
the back of the checking line, way behind the turnstiles (at least
60-70 men waiting). This is the same soldier who ingratiated himself
with the commander when we talked to him and keeps looking over at us,
"Everything all right?"
At the vehicle checking area, few vehicles wait in either direction,
but a plethora of soldiers, usually four or five, and two military
policewomen are both rude and challenging with passing Palestinians,
talking in loud, crude voices. There are a number of limousines
passing the checkpoint from Nablus today, and the passengers are
treated to particularly bad behavior.
The soldier checking IDs in the "fast" lane is equally rude, arguing
with men trying to get through. A lawyer, he insists, "can't pass
…only a judge" (and teachers and doctors). And so, the certified
public accountant of An-Narjah University can't use the fast lane, nor
can a "prosecutor." (We take a look at their official plastic cards,
plus their IDs). Men are sent back to stand in line for the turnstiles
and the complete examination, meaning, taking off suit jacket (in the
case of these two men), plus, of course, belts. It is clear that the
soldier exercises his task in lording it over Palestinians gleefully,
making sure, too, that we see what he's doing: pride in such loathsome
behavior, how skewed can life be? The representative of the DCO
stands, does little or nothing to make his presence felt.
15:55 -- "Is this you?" this soldier says, of course in Hebrew,
scornfully to a passing pedestrian in the fast lane (only males
subjected to this treatment). But his manner to the women in the
"fast" lane is officious and sexist, all, of course, in Hebrew. At
this point, one of our shift speaks to the soldiers, and the
commander, who does not behave like the soldiers, but who nevertheless
lets their behavior pass, "We're not asking whether people do or do
not have the correct permit, or the necessary permission, but we are
saying that this is no way to talk to people." The response is that
one of the rude soldiers now chews on something in front of the
Palestinians he's supposed to be checking at the vehicle checking area.
16:00 -- a new group of four or five soldiers arrives from a military
vehicle which parks on the other side of the checkpoint. Unlike the
soldiers at the checkpoint, all are without helmets, all wearing "kippot."
A new sign, in Arabic and English, at the entrance to the vehicle
checking area, coming from Deir Sharaf, indicates "Luggage Check." As
we are about to leave, a donkey cart driver has offloaded half of his
cargo, and by the time we leave Beit Iba, he is loading up his cart
again. At the same time, a woman student walks homewards, carrying
"Invitation to Number Theory." We're struck by the fact that here at
Beit Iba, there seems to be no theory behind the behaviors observed,
nor any sense of what numbers mean.