We Are Stronger When We Connect the Dots and Fight Together
Israeli soldiers boarded our bus at a checkpoint today. They were wearing uniforms, carrying machine guns, and had attitude.
Their stated intention was to examine us. Their actual impact was to intimidate and terrorize us.
We were coming from Samaria to East Jerusalem. Should be easy enough. Unless of course the guards at the checkpoint are feeling some kind of way.
We pulled up, they said something unintelligible, and our driver pulled aside to a separate lane off traffic.
Everyone sat up from their previously comfortable positions. Should we move the white folks to the front of the bus? They offered. No, we don’t think that’s necessary but who knows, really.
On the same day that Ahed Tamimi was released from prison, the Israeli police had arrested several artists who had painted a brand new mural in her honor. Nobody knew what could or would happen. That’s in part what makes Israel’s reign so terrorizing.
We took our American passports out and opened them to the picture page where we had paper clipped our Israeli visas.
It feels horrendous to even type. I’m in a country which has ethnically cleansed it’s indigenous population, with my country’s financial help, and I’m sitting up at attention as troops harass and inspect me.
I wanted to come on to Facebook Live and share the experience with all of you, so you could bear witness. However, the “only democracy in the Middle East” doesn’t permit photography and videography of its military actions even when they happen among civilians.
The soldiers went down the row on the bus, looking at everyone’s passports. I sat still, very still, aware that any sudden movements could be mistaken for a threat or violence which would incite them to initiate violence. They have the machine guns and their actions with Palestinians everyday prove they are easily triggered, literally.
While the whole ordeal took less than 10 minutes it was nonetheless a worrisome 10 minutes. I believe they could not harm me if God would not permit it, and my American passport was one form of protection God had provided me with. Still, they had machine guns strapped to themselves as they walked through our bus unprovoked to examine our passports.
This ordeal regularly takes many hours, sometimes coming out of vehicles, extensive questioning, and sometimes even assaults when Israeli soldiers subject Palestinians to it. Imagine doing it everyday at one of the dozens of checkpoints across Apartheid Israel, to get to work, court, hospitals, or even simply shopping.
I will eventually leave here and return to California, which includes a 100 mile border zone with Mexico. We know US authorities board buses on a regular basis to examine passports and harass travelers, inside and outside the 100 mile zone.
Those authorities often share training, funding, and even intelligence information with the authorities in Israel. Same terror, different communities targeted.
My passport was part of what minimized my harassment here. Our white allies are who stepped up to use their light skin privilege to support us.
That same passport, and my own privilege, a consequence of where I was born, is what I will lean on to protect my neighbors in California from the same terror perpetrated by US authorities. It is what I will lean on when I step up to record police officers. It is what I will lean on to speak out against all forms of racism. It is what I will use to advocate for a free Palestine and an end to normalizing with Zionism, when I return to the US.
We are stronger when we connect the dots and fight together.