I'm just your average princess just under occupation...
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Travelling to Ramallah Today
What a day... I was originally going to go to Jenin, and with a last minute call from my friend I decided not to. Rumors were about the city that Israeli's will enter and kill El Jihad Islam supporter or something along those lines, so I decided not to go, but I was up early and ready, so I thought I might as well have fun today, so with a quick call to my friends in Ramallah, I went there. Luckily, I didn’t go to Jenin because 2 Palestinians were killed and one Israeli solder was severely wounded.
So, I went to the checkpoint and passed today, no problems, just a short line and the soldiers were nice and actually a bit smiley today, I took a photo for you guys! Aren’t I sweet, lol... Anyway, I got to Ramallah and had a good time! You can see a picture of my delicious Hamas Lemonade I had in the next post!
Anyway, when I went home, what a headache I have. I am not sure why, yet, but they closed up the main road, so the cab had to go through all of the back roads, so I had a nice tour of villages today. The roads were so bumpy and curvy and some made for just one car, so since all of these people were returning home, we were following each other like a convoy. Finally, we reached the end where it connects to the main road and it was packed. I mean there were so many cars, Palestinian and Israeli plates. Well, the driver needed to go to Jenin actually and I had like 3 km until my checkpoint to enter my city so, I jumped out of the car and walked all the way to my city. There were so many soldiers and I'm so nosey I had to find out. When I was in the cab, the rumor from numerous phone calls with people from the cities said that the settlers closed the roads and were protesting hamas winning, and that's why the soldiers after Berziet had us go through the villages, but I am not sure how accurate that was. Because when I got out of the cab, I saw some soldiers speaking with a settler and also while walking I stopped one and asked him what the commotion was and he nicely told me that "they were looking for someone." So I don't know too much information. Anyway, I walked my ass to the checkpoint, passed it, got a cab and now I am home 3 hours later and I have a headache. I was really thinking about writing something profound today but my head hurts and all I want to do is take a shower and sleep. I promise I will write something more interesting tomorrow. Goodnight guys!
Now that hamas won there have been lots of talks on what kind of new laws they will implement into Palestine, as they are the new governing body. I have been hearing some rumors that I would like to share with you: -Punishment for passing on red and not on GREEN is 5 Rakats of prayer. -They will implement the law that all taxi's must be green. -One of their policies is to enforce green peace.
I heard too many jokes today, but I have a headache I can't remember them all now. I will try to get some more together for you guys, lol... But I think these sound better in Arabic. Oh and I am the quick one who made up the lemonade joke.
Traveling Within the West Bank! In this first lesson, we will learn how to travel within the West Bank: procedures and requirements. I think this is one of the main things that really upset me. I mean, when I was living in Manhattan and I wanted to visit a friend in Long Island, I would get up, get dressed, grab my car keys and drive there, the only thing I had on my mind was how the traffic was. Well, now, if I want to visit a friend in a neighboring city that is 25 minutes by car, I have to have a different routine and a different plan. I have to wake up early because by noon the checkpoints are crazy packed... And anyway, the soldiers are a bit nicer in the morning, just a little tip. Anyway after getting dressed and ready to leave I need to double check and see if I have everything I need so that I don't get in trouble... First, do I have my yellow star badge, oops I mean my green Palestinian ID badge - check; Another form of Identification so the soldier can cross reference it - check; Daily Permit for my car - If I have applied weeks before for a daily permit to drive my own car to the city - Check; Do I know the times the checkpoint will close so that I can get back in time - Check. Check, check, check... Ok, let's go...
So, I usually don't take my car because you are more hassled, its not just one check point you know, you have the main one outside of your city, but as you are making your trip using back roads because the main roads are only allowed for the illegal settlers, because you know, we might bite them. So we must take the nasty back roads that are in dire need of re-pavement and safety barriers along the sides of the mountains.
So anyway, I usually just take a cab. So, let's start from my house. I get out of my house and I hail a cab to take me to the checkpoint, I get out of the cab and get in line to go through "the cage," I swear it looks just like one, anyway, the soldiers call you up one by one. This is when I start getting really nervous, because you don't understand them. Sometimes they have no one and they are just standing around twiddling their thumbs as 50 Palestinians wait to go through the damn check point. So you have to wait until they call you, if you go before they ask you to come, they YELL at you, embarrass you, and then make you go to the back of the line. If you use checkpoints enough that's when you really start to see the humiliation of the people. So finally when it is your turn for interrogation; "Where are you going? Why are you going? Who do you know there? What will you do?" then they go through your bag and take out EVERYTHING on to a table, so girls if you have your period your tampons will be rolling on top of the desk for everyone to see and if the soldiers are mean enough they will make fun of you too... It's lovely. BTW, not all the soldiers are assholes, some are nice actually. But, I have never met a nice woman soldier, I guess I have an effect on some of the men, lol, so they are just nice to me, hahaha.
Then if they want to let you through they will and if they don't want to let you through you're screwed, no seeing your friend that day. If they don't let you through, there is nothing you can do about it other than try another checkpoint at the opposite end of the city, or try again another day. If you are let through, you exit "the cage" and walk some more where you find all the cabs from the other side of the checkpoint to take you to where you need to go. I say its easier to go with a cab, because the checkpoints I was talking about when you go with your car, you still pass through with a cab but the cabbie is the one who has to deal with their questions...
By the time you get to your friends house from the time that you left your house is about 2-3 hours if you're lucky, and it can take longer if your not, mind you this was a 25 minute trip if we were free.
Traveling to another part of the territory called Gaza Strip is yet another adventure, and if you are traveling to Jordan to fly internationally is yet another adventure, and to get permission to go to Jerusalem is yet another adventure, and to go to Israel yet another adventure... Stay tuned for more adventures with the Palestinian Princess as your teacher and guide for Check Points 101.
Children are our countries future right? If you believe this then we have to try to teach anyone that think guns are cool that they are absolutely not. Guns = Violence = Killing. Bad, bad, bad.
This is where I feel the Palestinian social education needs to be improved. It is amazing how many people here think its normal to allow thier children to play with toy guns, I mean, even my wonderful dearest sister, who is totally sophisticated and classy woman let's her 5 year old play with a toy gun, I don't think so!!I know that they just think its cool, and all the big powerful Israeli soldiers they see on a daily basis are holding these guns and I know that guns are apart of many of the childrens daily lives - they see the soldiers, and many of the "ghetto" people here carry guns, so we need to change this, but the question is, how? Well, I know how to get rid of the ghetto people we have walking around the city with guns - Palestinian Police... But their power is always underminded because when Israel says get out of the cities, they must... So, that solution is shot in that air, so to speak, lol... I will leave that for the real political people and activists, that would be way over my head!
Ok, anyway, we need to education the public that this isn't the appropriate toy. And for the adults shooting in the air isn't appropriate way to celebrate. I forgot what shooting sounded like, until I came back home.
After living in New York City, I was used to the way the traffic sounded at night, as I am getting used to the way shooting sounds at night. This is not normal people! I am so saddened that my children will one day have to endure the sounds of bullets being shot in the air, for whatever reason. That is why I am going to make one of my missions to make guns totally uncool, because they are.
BTW, I took this photo while driving around the city, I had nothing to do and thought I would just photograph, and when I saw these kids, I was like... "hell no, this is exactly what needs to be changed here." So it is my mission to take all the toy guns from the children. Watch out, because I will take your toys away!
I was talking to my friend last night, and we were wondering what will happen to us now that Hamas is in government. I didn't vote, but I know a lot of people who did vote for Hamas voted for them because they haven't stolen from the people and have actually made great strides to make living in Palestine better. I guess I would have voted for them too. We need to give them a chance. Why, you may ask?
Well, why not? The world has come to know them as suicide bombers, but they fail to remember why they encouraged that. It was the intifada, Israeli soldiers were in the streets, Palestinians were confined to their homes, sometimes without electricity and water and worst of a lot of innocent people were losing their lives including children . I remember those days, as thats when I was sent to the US to study because my father would rather have me away than to experience the terrors of what was happening to our land. Palestine did not have an organized army, the people had no one to depend on to protect their land, their country, and their people. So enter Hamas... A group that gave the people hope and faught back. They were kamikazi's. They were protecting us when we had no one to protect us.
So back to my telephone conversation... Since many people in the world do not know what Hamas is all about, since a lot of the people do not know what humiliation we go through everyday, they are oblivious and they believe the propoganda.
Israel has a lot of money, and there are more Jewish people in New York than in Israel alone and they are educated and strong people. Ofcourse they are going to protect what they believe is right, but at the expense of a lot of indigenous Palestinian lives. They have the means to make campaigns and reach a lot of people to teach about their culture, heritage, and what not... And as Palestinians we have to sit and watch because we can't even leave our cities to go to schools, and travel the world let a lone think about campaigns on improving the Palestinian image.
I gaurantee if any of you in cyber world were to live the lives of even the "luckiest" Palestinian you would quickly change your views and see that the treatment we receive by some of the Israeli soldeirs is just down right aweful. I say luckiest, because my situation is a hell of a lot better than a lot of people here, and if you were living my life and you are coming from the west, you would either turn into a suicide bomber or become a major activist, Ok, thats not funny, but its true!
And I say some Israeli's and some Jewish people, because there are alot of good ones! I have many Israeli Jewish friends who sympathize with the Palestinian people, oh yes, they do exist. But we don't ever hear about them in the news... Hmmm, I wonder why?
Being a princess isn't all it's glamorized to be. Then again, I'm not actually considered a "princess," yet. We, as a colonized country have yet to take control of our country once and for all. I believe it will happen one day, but for now, I'm just a princess under occupation.
I am digressing.
Anyways, I currently live in the West Bank. I am 26 years old and a graduate from an Ivy League university in the States; where I studied the Fine Arts so I'm not so into the political mumbo jumbo, but when you live in this part of the world, you can't just ignore it because once you leave your home its in your face constantly.
After coming back from the United States, a place I called home for 5 years, living back here is like waiting for your death sentence to carry out. Don't get me wrong, this is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Palestine has beautiful olive tree covered mountains, gorgeous architectural cathedrals, and the kindest most welcoming people in the world. But there is something about occupation that just doesn't feel right.
I will use this blog to let all you all in the free world see what my life in the West Bank is like, through photographs, art and my musings. Thank god for the internet!
I am an eternal student, I love to learn new things and if I don't learn something new everyday, then that day was a waste. I love all people, I don't think I have a predijuce bone in my entire body. I don't HATE people but sometimes I HATE what they do. I also love fashion, make-up and shopping!