Monday, January 16, 2012

Re-Entry #1

Two days ago....Saturday the 14th. The last day for my Israeli tourist visa. I would've crossed the border the day before, but this is one of those realms where I get superstitious, so Friday the 13th was out. I decided to listen to my friend Palden's advice: Go to Amman, and wait until the time is right. If you wake up one morning with the right feeling, cross the border.

This is my dilemma in a nutshell. I'm a volunteer in the West Bank. To get into the West Bank, you have to go through an Israeli terminal where an agent will ask you "What is the purpose of your visit to Israel?" and "Are you traveling in the West Bank?" and "Do you know anyone in the West Bank?" My answers would be, I'm not visiting Israel, yes, I live in the West Bank, and yes, most of my friends here are Palestinian.

That's not going to fly. Everyone is telling me to lie, act like a dumb Christian tourist, say I'm learning Hebrew, say I have an Israeli boyfriend.

I did it twice, and I won't do it anymore. I know people get turned away for teaching English in the West Bank, or studying at a Palestinian university or working for aid organizations that don't have enough international pull. These people are seen as security threats, because Palestinians are lumped together as the enemy. I won't perpetuate it. It's humiliating to me, and it's humiliating to my friends. As much as I want to get in, I can't cross over into occupied territory, look that occupation soldier in the face and lie and tell them how much I like their country, and their language, and their men. I like Palestinian men. Their sense of humor, their devotion, their family values, the way they play with children, and the way they swear, walla...

And I love Arabic. So I'm going to give my soldier a signed letter from Haj Sami, pictures of me with the kids in Al Aqaba, and tell them that I find beauty in Palestine. 

The common response is "good luck!"