What happened when Laila crossed Israeli checkpoints?

8 Apr


Your Middle East report, 7 April, 2014

Israel-Palestine Palestinian scholar Sa’ed Atshan woke up to find an email from his aunt Laila, who lives in Palestine (for context: she is a psychologist, and completely blind since birth). We have been permitted to republish that letter. Here is Laila’s story.

“Hi love. Finally, made it across the checkpoints. At one checkpoint, the Israeli soldiers confined all buses for more than 2 hours. People, all ages boiling in the bus. Driver waiting helplessly for a sign from soldiers. Kids crying. Stupid me, postponed my pee and for the first time had no water. Almost fainted. I asked the helpless, old driver: what if I take my cane and walk out? He said: no and that he’ll get in trouble. I asked what if someone had a stroke? He said: when they ok opening the bus door, they will find out. He answered with no energy or feeling. Totally numb. Probably melted from heat.

“What if I take my cane and walk out? He said: no”Upon arrival at the occupier’s terminal, my bra decided to beep. As if the 2 hours weren’t enough. An Israeli woman with a typical, aggressive voice ordered me to cooperate for getting strip-searched. I yelled back: there’s no way any of you will touch me. Enough of your humiliation. I’m taking my bra off here. She said: go in the room. I did. Had to carry it and walk to my bag which was with them. I guess I’ll never cope or normalize the unacceptable. But always wonder what it will take to end this? What will it take for the world to say: Enough!

It’s been just too long. I still don’t understand a world that is shocked by Nazism yet permits the similar; only against another people. I can have a good laugh when some years from now, people will speak with disbelief about the Israeli occupation. I’m still feeling sick and tired. I may have dehydrated in the bus. When I arrived across, I cried. I cried for humanity. I cried because I allowed myself to dehumanize them with my perception. I can very well understand the vicious cycle of dehumanizing in history. A group is pushed to the edge until they start behaving the same way. It sure takes lots to maintain humanity under such harshness.

Don’t know when we’ll ever change. Don’t know when we’ll consistently say: enough for good and for all.”

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