Monday, January 21, 2008

Palestinian Voices: Five year olds and Israel's security

I recently asked a Palestinian friend if there were any stories folks in their community would like to share with the outside world. I have no illusions of getting more than the occasional hit and read here, but I figure why not, the more places information like this is posted, the better to educate. So, I have a collection of them and will be posting them from time to time. These aren't all stories of torture and assassination and starvation. Those stories are real and serious. But it is also important to understand that occupation, like slavery, works as an institution by creating everyday humiliation of the oppressed by the oppressor. Ask yourself as you read not the silly questions news commentators or political ideologues tend to go for, but the very simple and humane question of "what if I had to go through this every day, with no end ever in sight except that the humiliation will almost certainly get worse?"

So without further commentary, here is a first such story. More to come in the future, this is from a woman who wishes to be identified only as "Rana", thank you to her.


May 8th, 2006

This morning, as I reached the fourth stage of inspection on my daily terminal crossing to get to Jerusalem from Bethlehem, I saw a little boy (about 5 years old) with his school bag on his back, standing behind the closed door, and in tears. He was denied entry to Jerusalem to get to his school by the Israeli soldier in charge of ID check this morning! I tried to understand what the problem was, and the soldier told me -in Hebrew—which I barely understood- that he was sending him back home because he wasn't carrying his birth certificate with him!!

I might understand, if it was a 15 year old, who needed a birth certificate to prove that he is not yet 16 (the age at which you get an ID and you would need a permit to cross over to Jerusalem), but he wasn't even 6, I swear! I told the soldier in English that he was "Just a baby!" but he wouldn't listen. Some of the people crossing started pleading with the soldier too, saying that he is missing his school and that he is too young to go back home by himself, his mom must have dropped him off at the checkpoint and left, but to no avail. The boy's eyes were filled with tears, and he kept repeating one sentence over and over again "mom didn't give it to me" (referring to his birth certificate). I told him to try and use the other lane, as the female soldier at that lane might have a kinder heart than this soldier and would let him pass, but he was terrified. He kept looking at the soldier with deep fear in his eyes, scared to not abide by his orders to go back. Unfortunately, I had to get going, so I left while still encouraging him to go to the other lane. A few minutes later, the boy came out. I asked him how he finally made it, he said he took my advice and used the other lane. One has to really wonder, how this five-year old might be a threat to the security of the mighty state of Israel.

We will keep working for a future that is "traumatize-free" for everyone in this troubled country.

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