In the West Bank, every flat tire tells a story

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Haaretz, 05.01.15

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The “press” decal on my car may be pealing off, but that didn’t stop this young fellow from interviewing me. Before I remembered who was supposed to be asking the questions, he found out where I was born, where my parents came from and how many years I had been living in El-Bireh, the West Bank town near Ramallah. (He was 4 when I moved there, and now he’s 22).

“And where did you live before that?” In Gaza, I replied.

“In Gaza they’re men,” an eavesdropper interjected.

[...] I asked what the rockets fired into Israel from Gaza had achieved. “They paralyzed Al-Lydd [Lod (Ben-Gurion)] airport for two months,” the guy who was impressed by Gaza’s men told me proudly.

That’s how myths are built, but my attempt to set things straight and argue with his wild imagination were no more successful than my efforts over the past 20 years to remind Israelis that the Israeli blockade policy against Gaza and the isolation and imprisonment of its residents began before suicide bombings and before the Oslo peace process of the 1990s.

[...] Israeli soldiers also expelled thousands of residents of the nearby villages of Imwas and Yalu, after which they bulldozed and blew up the villagers’ houses. The West Bank settlement of Mevo Horon was built on the land of Beit Nuba.

The sites of all of the villages, along with their springs and fields, were made off limits to Palestinians and opened up to Israelis — a de facto annexation. [...]

Sophisticated forms of expulsion

[...] Palestinian memory is unavoidably long because Israel and its Jews have not severed the continuity from 1948 to 1967 to today. [...]

On the official Voice of Palestine radio they reported on a laborer from the village of Farun who choked to death at the Sha’ar Efraim crossing for Palestinians, a place where laborers staged a strike to protest the chokingly crowded conditions and the conduct of the security firm that runs the checkpoint.

I switched stations. On Israel’s Army Radio they were chatting away about another opinion poll in the run-up to the Knesset election. The parallel lives of Palestinians and Israelis that do not meet are well reflected by the radio waves.