san francisco bay area
santa cruz, ca
process & imc docs
technlogy by cat@lyst and IMC Geeks
IDF SOLDIER TO WW3 REPORT: FUCK YOUR ASS!!
3:45am Fri Feb 7 '03
WW3 Report on the scene in occupied Palestine
IDF SOLDIER TO WW3 REPORT: FUCK YOUR ASS!!
On Jan. 19, I go to Jaljulya, an Arab village in Israel, with Mahmoud, an International Solidarity Movement (ISM) coordinator from Qalqilya. His cousin owns an internet cafe in Qalqilya on the West Bank, and he has a permit to enter Israel, with the purpose of picking up a coffee machine from a vending company. It took Mahmoud ten days to wait for an entry permit--good for one month. He says it was given to him because he's married, with children, and older, so he is not so suspicious to the Israelis. We take a taxi to the IDF checkpoint at the edge of Qalqilya. We show our passports, but the soldiers are too busy harassing and interrogating a carload of Save the Children workers to pay much attention to us, and they just wave us through with no inspection.
On the other side of the checkpoint, we meet a Palestinian Israeli friend of Mahmoud, who ferries us to Jaljulya in his pickup. On the way, Mahmoud points out land which was appropriated from the city of Qalqilya by Israel in 1949, and given to Jews.
We wait at the store of Mahmoud's friend in Jajoulya for another friend, Tsvika, a Jewish Israeli, to pick us up and take us to the vending company in Hagor. Hagor is a moshav (Jewish agricultural community) near Kafr Kassem, where onOct. 29, 1956, 47 Arab villagers were massacred by Israeli Border Police -- both Jewish and Druze -- for breaking curfew (the Palestinian Israeli population was subject to military curfews until 1967.) Tsvika is from Poland originally, and apologizes for not speaking much English. On the way to Hagor, Mahmoud explains I'm an activist from the US, and I'm in Palestine with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Tsvika starts to tell me what he thinks about the conflict. "Fuck religion. Fuck Jerusalem--who cares?", he says. "It is only 5% of the people on each side who care. My children know Mahmoud. From the TV, they can see only that Arabs are bad. The Arab children only see Israeli soldiers, so it's very difficult."
Mahmoud told me in advance that Tsvika is a "normal" person, and so he refuses to do military service in the occupied territories. But when I ask how he ended up refusing, I find out Tsvika is not the sort of refusenik that I've been reading and writing about, who signs letters and petitions. "You know what is vodka?", Tsvika asks. "I pour it over my head, and I go to the interview [with the IDF], and they think I'm an alcoholic. And they let me out!" He laughs. "It would make me crazy to go out," he adds--meaning to serve in the Occupied Territories.
I ask Tsvika what he thinks of the "security wall" Israel is building in the West Bank to keep out suicide bombers. "Fucking bullshit, in my opinion," he says. "You put up a fence around property, and the thief is one step ahead, finds a way to get around it."
Tsvika tells me that 50% of Israelis would leave Israel if they could, because the situation is so bad. I ask him who he thinks is responsible for the conflict. "It's ego games," he tells me. "The leaders on both sides are responsible. All of them. The Israeli and Palestinian parliaments--they are all getting money, all corrupt. If America wants peace, it can enforce it." I ask him what's to be done about the settlements. "Keep the large cities, and exchange for land. It's easy," he says.
Sabi, the Jewish vendor who is selling Mahmoud the coffee machine, has his own solution. "I tell you something, It's all about money." Tsvika and Mahmoud nod in agreement. "If America wanted to solve the problem tomorrow, it would come with its checkbook, and give everyone money. Whether it's in Israel, or Qalqilya, everyone is the same," Sabi says. "People just want to work, go home and eat, and watch TV." He tells me it's impossible to evacuate all the settlements, because it would take too much money. Then Sabi has an idea. "Tell Bush to give me a checkbook, and give me a job writing checks to everybody. Then I can stop working in vending machines, and you won't have to write about the conflict anymore." I tell him it's a good idea. We leave with the coffee machine.
Getting back into the West Bank and Qalqilya proves a little more challenging than leaving. After disembarking from his Palestinian Israeli friend's taxi, Mahmoud and I carry the coffee machine and a box full of coffee to the checkpoint, where we rest them on concrete blocks. We have to wait for about ten minutes, because the young soldiers manning the checkpoint are busy searching a donkey cart, and then a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance. The soldiers are jittery. A busload of Palestinian men disembark and start to walk through the checkpoint towards Qalqilya. One of the soldiers yells at them to stop, and motions for them to stand and wait. They do so stoically, used to the daily indignities of the checkpoint, and the moods and whims of soldiers.
Then Mahmoud and I are ordered to another concrete block, and we place the machine and the box up on it. I open the box, and a soldier, walking in back of me, says something in Hebrew. I don't understand, but Mahmoud speaks pretty good Hebrew, from his time spent working in Israel--and in Israeli prisons during the first Intifada, when he was busted for stone-throwing. He explains I'm a US citizen, and that I'm there visiting him. (The soldier might try to bar me from the West Bank if he realizes I'm an activist, although he cannot lawfully do so). When he hears this, the soldier says to me, "George Bush," and adds something in Hebrew. After the soldiers are done thoroughly inspecting the coffee and machine, Mahmoud and I walk off. Mahmoud looks back at the soldier and then tells me that after saying "George Bush," the soldier had said to me, "Fuck your ass!" He had then turned to Mahmoud and said with some concern, "You know Hebrew?" and barked at him not to tell me about the expletive. Mahmoud says the soldier was probably afraid that if I knew what he'd said to me, I'd contact the US consulate and complain about the verbal abuse, and he'd catch flack for it. Mahmoud and I are met by his cousin with a truck. We load the goods in and leave the checkpoint, which is now the only way in and out of Qalqilya, like a gateway to a large penal colony. (David Bloom)
add your comments