Musings of a Palestinian Princess: Check Points 101: A Course in...

Musings of a Palestinian Princess

I'm just your average princess just under occupation...

Monday, January 30, 2006

Check Points 101: A Course in...

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.


At Monday, January 30, 2006 1:45:00 PM, Blogger tafka PP said...

Hi Princess,

Great post. (Jameel sent me over) I look forward to reading more!

At Monday, January 30, 2006 4:02:00 PM, Blogger Jonthon said...

Dear Princess:
I recently accepted an offer from Teach For America to go and teach in inner city schools in New York City. Coincicental, eh? Anyway, I agree wholeheartedly with your reflection on toy guns, which my family never allowed me to play with. So many of my friends think it is a god-given right that they possess a lethal weapon, which is doubly worrysome given that they don't feel anyone else should. The NRA always displays a banner that says "the right to bear arms." Have you ever noticed what part of the second amendment they chose to omit? "well-regulated militia." If we must have guns (and I'm not convinced that is the case), we must have pervasive regulation. It sounds like you feel the same, and are also in a place where that sort of rhetoric isn't taken kindly too. All I can wish you is luck.
Well, and a cup of chai, if you're ever in New York over the next two years.

Best of luck in your endeavors,

At Monday, January 30, 2006 6:26:00 PM, Anonymous Grackle said...

Your badge/ID comparison falls flat when history is consulted. Here’s the difference: most of the yellow-starred Jews were murdered in the Nazi concentration camps – the green ID’ed Palestinians are merely inconvenienced for the purpose of preventing terrorist bombers from performing their dirty work in the shops, cafes & markets in Israel. That you consider them equivalent means I will probably not learn much at this blog.

You go on & on about the inconvenience of travel because of Israeli security procedures. Doesn’t it occur to you that your leaders have forced the Israelis to take these security measures because of the attacks of terrorists coming from Palestine? If the checkpoints are galling why not try to convince your leaders to stop the terrorism so that the checkpoints will become unnecessary?

At Monday, January 30, 2006 6:50:00 PM, Blogger Palestinian Princess said...

Grakle, I am not sure if you know YOUR history my friend,

A Star of David, often yellow-colored, was used by the Nazis, during the Holocaust, as a method of identifying Jews, as it was seen as the "Jewish Star". The requirement to wear the Star of David with the word Jude (German for Jew) inscribed, was extended to all Jews over the age of 6 in German-occupied areas on September 6, 1941. In other areas, local words were used (e.g. Juif in French, Jood in Dutch). In occupied Poland Jews were forced to wear a white armband with a blue Star of David on it, as well as a patch on the front and back of their clothing.

Jewish inmates in concentration camps were later forced to wear similar Nazi concentration camp badges.

Ok, so you are correct about the concentration camp part but you fail to realize what they were used in the first place. So it is synonymous for us having Green ID badges for West Bank, Orange for Gaza, Yellow for Palestinians with dual citizenship... I enjoyed your comment as you will NOT learn anything from my site if you are closed minded and make arabs the source of your blame and problems. If there is an Israeli who blames all their problems on Arabs, and if there is an Arab who blames all their problems on Israeli's and you hit them on the head the same sound comes out because both heads are hollow, and their hearts are filled with hatred.

So if you can't learn something from a blog like mine, the choice is yours because Im just a princess under occupation.

Peace to you and peace to your heart.

At Monday, January 30, 2006 7:55:00 PM, Anonymous grackle said...

Princess said: “Ok, so you are correct about the concentration camp part but you fail to realize what they were used in the first place.”

I don’t understand what I failed to “realize.” Could you elaborate?

At Monday, January 30, 2006 8:28:00 PM, Blogger Jonthon said...

Bloggers WILL make the world a better place. Perhaps because we are best suited to cross the geopolitical divides that the power structure has in the past used to divide us. Bloggers wrest control of the bridges between continents, and at leat some of us are looking towards notions of colective humanity for salvation.
And why not? Our model portends better ends than does the establishment's foreshadowing of fearmongering and isolationism.

At Monday, January 30, 2006 9:04:00 PM, Blogger Palestinian Princess said...

Jonthon - some of us are looking towards collective salvation, and those are the kind of people I want reading my blog!

Now Grackle... Im not sure who you are supporting here, lol... If you read what I have taken from about the "yellow badge" you will see that they were used to identify those that are jewish, that was the sole purpose of it initially. They later were used as well in concentration camps, ok, thats what you failed to realize their initial use. kapish?

So in fact they are the same thing. The colored palestinian id's are used to identify palestinians from their areas.

I don't know how much more clearer I can get. If you don't understand, I will try to explain again, as if you don't understand then I didnt do a very good job at explaining...

And Grackle, thanks for returning, I am assuming that you really are learning something... You've been kissed from the princess...

At Monday, January 30, 2006 9:04:00 PM, Blogger Palestinian Princess said...

BTW, Jonthon, we are so on the same page... HUGS.

At Monday, January 30, 2006 9:15:00 PM, Anonymous grackle said...

The badges forced upon the Jews by the Nazis were to identify them for the purpose of murdering the Jews.
The ID’s worn by Palestinians to get through Israeli checkpoints is to keep terrorist bombers from setting off among the markets, cafes and shops of Israel.

Like I said before, if you can’t see the difference between the two, I’ll probably learn very little at this blog.

At Monday, January 30, 2006 9:28:00 PM, Blogger Palestinian Princess said...

Can you please find evidence of that, that was not the purpose of them, atleast I cite where I get my information. Give me a non-biased site that tells me as you have said and you will convince me, I am not taking your word for it sorry.

Wilkipedia: A yellow badge, also referred to as a Jewish badge, is a mandatory mark or a piece of cloth of specific geometric shape, worn on the outer garment in order to distinguish a person of certain religion or ethnicity in public. It is traditionally associated with the persecution of Jews.

Tradition is an inherited pattern of thought or action. Therefore ALL people had to wear it, well not ALL people were persecuted, so it is associated with the persecution of Jews but was not used to identify them for the sole purpose of killing them, the key word is IDENIFY, if they wanted to just kill them, they would have done it when giving them the badge.

Grackle I understand where you are going with this, but you are going to need concrete evidence for me to not feel the way I do about the Palestinian ID... Nonetheless, Im the one that has to have it on me at all times... Ok baby...

Your turn.

At Monday, January 30, 2006 9:54:00 PM, Blogger Palestinian Princess said...

I'm going to bed now, so if you, Grackle or anyone else answers I won't be able to look at this till tomorow, but I just wanted to add one comment before I signed off... I am not denouncing whatsoever what happened in nazi germany. But I do find haunting similiarities to what is happening here now. Remember, this is an opinion blog and if you read my profile you will see that I admit to not being the political expert, so what I say is my sole opinion and I am not pushing or propogating with this blog, it is purely my raw experiences, nothing exaggerated, I don't have to exagerrate because there are millions of people going through what I go through everyday, Im not special.

I am not here to preach or to insult anyone that is not my purpose. Everyone has their faults in this situation and I am looking at it all from different angles, you know, like open minded people.

And honestly I dont want to drag out this holocaust thing any longer, because thats not my point I made a mere comparison, and this comparison is exactly how I feel every time I present my ID... You're not me so how can you tell me that what I feel is wrong.

At Monday, January 30, 2006 10:39:00 PM, Anonymous grackle said...

Princess, you make a distinction between the Nazi’s stated purpose of the Jew-badges(merely to identify) & the actual purpose of the badges – which was for the purpose of identifying Jews in order to gather them into rail cars & transport them to the death camps. Such a distinction can only be seen as irrelevant. The Jews were murdered very efficiently in the camps – much more efficiently than gunning them down piecemeal where the Nazis found them, in the houses & streets of Jewish-Germans neighborhoods - and more secret, too.

I am not denouncing whatsoever what happened in nazi germany. But I do find haunting similiarities to what is happening here now.
If you truly find similarities, real & significant similarities, other than that the two(Nazi Jew-badges & Palestinian ID) are methods of identification, then I despair of the ability of Ivy League universities to teach their students to think. If you are going to believe the Nazi’s stated purpose for their Jew-badges(merely to identify) instead of acknowledging the Nazi’s real reason(a necessary step in the extermination of the Jews) then you are also disregarding history.

Once again: The purpose of the Palestinian ID’s is to keep terrorists from setting off their bombs in the shops, markets & cafes of Israel.

The purpose of the Nazi-issued Jew-badges was to help the Nazis exterminate the Jews.

My source? Any history text by any reputable historian.

At Tuesday, January 31, 2006 12:05:00 AM, Blogger Daedalus said...

Grackle doesn't know his history very well. First of all, Wikipedia is not a reputable source of information. Secondly, the yellow star first came into use in Spring of 1933 when they were painted on the windows of Jewish stores so Germans would know which to boycott. True, the badges themselves were not used until September 1939, but they had been discussed before them. I believe it was Heydrich who came up with the idea, or rather, he copied it from an old requirement from the eleventh century in which Jews in what is now Germany and Austria were required to wear a horned hat to distinguish them from Christians.

I have not been to Palestine. I work with many Palestinians from my comfortable spot in DC. However, I am not beyond imagining the incredible hardship these paranoid security measures cause. I know how detrimental they have been to the Palestinian economy, when produce is left to rot in warehouses and Palestinians are not permitted to cross the border to get to work. It is impossible to create better living conditions when you have no economy, and without better conditions, terrorism is not going to go away.

Rabid rightwingers in the Israeli government would like nothing better than to wipe out the Palestinians. In fact, Sharon did just that at Sabra and Shatila, where thousands were murdered at his hand. Sorry, dude, you are just wrong.

At Tuesday, January 31, 2006 3:12:00 AM, Anonymous grackle said...

Daedalus, I didn't cite Wikipedia, the Princess did. I am well aware of Wikipedia's inaccuracies. Whatever the Nazis' stated purpose of the Jew-badges at the beginning - the fact is that the Jew-badges were used to murder the Jews. On the other hand, requiring ID at Israeli checkpoints is to keep the terrorist bombers out - not to murder Palestinians. And that is what I found objectionable in the Princess's comparison of the two. It's the kind of cockeyed hyperbole that is so common to the left.

At Tuesday, January 31, 2006 3:58:00 AM, Blogger Simon said...

Very interesting post. It is interesting to get the a real persons account of life. So often you hear so much bull from either side you don't know. what is true.

It amazesing how people live through this kind of thing. I am from the South of Ireland so i didn't see much of the troubles in the North. Only went there once during the conflict when i was small. I remember the British army soliders pointing the guns at the car as we crossed the border. But that is nothing really.

But I have heard the stroies of people been arested for having red hair in the wrong place. And on the other side a good friend of mines mother missed the bus to work one morning turned on the news to see the news and learned that the bus had just been blown up.

But the North is fairly peaceful now so I hope eventually palestine can also see peace.

At Tuesday, January 31, 2006 8:34:00 AM, Blogger Palestinian Princess said...

The saint & Daedalus, welcome to my blog! I havent time to look at your blogs yet, but I promise I will do it when I get back from Jenine today. Oh yes, the misery of travel starts in 30 minutes for me! I'm already dreading it.

grackle said... Whatever the Nazis' stated purpose of the Jew-badges at the beginning - the fact is that the Jew-badges were used to murder the Jews.

Exactly! There purpose in the begining was used to JUST identify and ended in a massacre. HELLO, I hope this doesn't happen here, it is just the BEGINING and it is just used to identify... Because I swear if we were in the earlier part of last century we Palestinians would have been wiped out already, thank god that times have changed, a bit... Well, maybe the Muslims will be wiped out because mine says Christian, I'm not sure how many American's & Europeans would support the killing of their fellow Christians.
(rollseyes) I can't even believe I am talking about this... I generally don't speculate, so this is the last time you will read it on this blog. This blog is about real experiences, so Grackle, for you I just might gather up some more information on how they are similiar, I even have photos that are hauntingly nazi germanyish, SCARY!!

And Grackle the Nazi's never thought they were doing anything wrong either.

Another thing I want to clarify, I didn't study politics, or government, or even sociology (which I kinda wish I did) I was a Fine Arts major, and unfortunately we didn't have the opportunity to get into Holocaust history nonetheless their art so forgive me if I am unfamiliar with some facts, I will state what I find, and if someone else finds that I am misrepresenting something, please feel free to correct me. I am a person who likes to learn from books and people. I am open to new thoughts and ideas. I am not at all a promoter of messages of hate at all and I don't feel that I need to defend my feelings and lifes daily actions.

So that brings me to Grackle, if I feel my Green ID is the same as the YELLOW BADGE, you will not change my FEELING.

And this blog is about my feelings and daily experiences. And since you keep regularly visiting, I really do hope that you have learned that you can not program my feelings or any other Palestinians to be happy to what is happening in the area.

I do not support ANY violent acts from ANY side, ok... But from somethings I see here, which will be in posts to come, you will see how and why the radicals do as they do.

Anyway all, take care and I will be posting later today. Kisses.

At Tuesday, January 31, 2006 5:09:00 PM, Anonymous Roger said...

Thanks for that interesting post on the daily chores of commuting for a Palestinian.

Most of the above comments are bordering off-topic. The key point is the difference between living in NYC and the West Bank.

I visited the area and passed through those checkpoints. I came away thinking that the trouble in the area eminated more from this, almost ritualistic, daily humiliation rather than any fundementalism.

At Tuesday, January 31, 2006 6:26:00 PM, Blogger Daedalus said...

Grackle, apologies for the wikipedia mistake.

Things such as the Nazi rise to power do not happen by accidents, nor do they happen over night. The stars were initially used for identification - everything has to start somewhere. History is incremental. Nazi Germany is simply an easy example of a democracy turned totalitarian. Little things were done at first - it was a gradual erosion of civil liberties, not only for Jews, but for all Germans. Soon the SS were spying on Germans, making sure they didn't "collaborate" with Jews and other "undesirables." Protests against the government were not allowed. Journalists were punished for printed stories the government did not like, until there was no more free press. None of these things happened overnight.

Maybe if Palestinians had to show a passport issud by the PA at the border, it would be more acceptable, but the fact is they have to show a specific Israeli-issued ID card. What the Israelis have done is said 'no, you can't issue passports, but you can't be treated as Israeli nationals, either.' And the bigger deal is how passage is dealt with. If you work in Israel, you should not have to hope every day that you are allowed to go to work.

At Tuesday, January 31, 2006 8:35:00 PM, Anonymous grackle said...

Daedalus, let me see if I have it right: If you were head of Israeli security you would have the Palestinian government issue ID cards to Palestinian citizens who want to go into Israel. Right?

Princess, your comparison equates inconvenience with murder & thereby treats murder frivolously. It’s only natural to be annoyed at inconvenience but to seriously compare it to the Nazi’s systematic attempt at the extermination of the Jews serves to confirm the stereotype we Westerners have of folks from your part of the world. The Israelis have every right to require elaborate security measures, whatever it takes, to protect themselves from terrorists.

At Tuesday, January 31, 2006 10:01:00 PM, Blogger Palestinian Princess said...

Ok, I guess you are not Israeli, so I will explain to you something maybe you know maybe you don't but atleast I will have said it.

I as a Palestinian do not care to go to Israel, I agree, all security measures to be taken when anyone enter another country, so it is not my problem for checkpoint or in other words a border to Israel, but this is not the point that I am trying to make and maybe its because you do not understand why there is checkpoint in the West Bank. I will explain.

There are checkpoints in the west bank to protect the illegal settelers in the area. This is the only reason. No one is talking about walking freely into Israel, or EVEN into Jerusalem. They can make hightened measures there as it is a conflict area. But for me to have a problem for traveling within the west bank is really ridiculous, because this is my part of the country and I dont need someone to delay because a settler or settlement that is ILLEGAL anyway. I can careless if there is border for Jerusalem, and there should be border to Israel as they want there own country, but they are not taking mine.

Now, I guess if you have a problem with that part of my arguement you are all for the extinction of the Palestinian community, but I wont put words in your mouth, I will let you respond.

At Wednesday, February 01, 2006 12:25:00 AM, Anonymous Kira said...

Interesting blog, Princess. I find the comparison between Yellow Stars and IDs pretty useless. For example, I can draw a comparison, which you are likely to disagree with: As you know, US drivers licences/IDs show which state the person resides in (kinda like specifying Gaza or West Bank). They are required to be produced when requested by authorities (police, highway patrol, border guards in south and north). But until you are required to produce an official ID card, it stays in your wallet.

Yellow stars were required to make Jews identifiable in a crowd at all times. So, unless you are a Palestinian or an Arab in Israel that is required to wear an identifying marker on your clothes (which IS NOT the case) - your comparison is invalid.

Humiliation, on the other hand, is a valid topic. Completely plausible that those in charge will humiliate those that are subjects. Hey, it happens with police officers on the streets of NYC too!

Anyway, I appreciate your blog, as it is insightful and optimistic. I will be back!

At Wednesday, February 01, 2006 2:24:00 AM, Anonymous grackle said...

I see. In other words, Princess: Since you consider that the settlers are "illegal," it's OK for the terrorists to murder them, especially since the security used to protect them is inconvenient. I'm not surprised. The government your voters have elected considers Israel itself "illegal." Stereotype confirmed.

At Wednesday, February 01, 2006 6:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Leave the girl alone, you do not live in her shoes!!! She lives this daily humiliation of the human spirit, not you. She is communicating HER feelings & experiences, NOT YOURS!! I am not a Hamas lover but if you remember the Israeli history they started out with terrorists as well and now they are prominent lawmakers which included Sharon as one of the bloodiest Palestinian killers of all!!!

At Monday, July 23, 2007 4:44:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Princes, we don't hate you, we don't want to inconvenience you, but we want to protect our selfs from those among you who disregard civilians and attack them indiscriminately (if they at least attacked military only I would lean towards the Palestinian cause more). But it's just imposible for me to sympathize with Palestinians when not even a single one of them ever spoke out about their "freedom fighter killing women and children". I thing the two of our people living together is impossible. Maybe in the future we can live next to each other, and I hope for peace, prosperity, and dignity for both our people.


Warrior Jew.

At Tuesday, August 07, 2007 11:56:00 PM, Anonymous Li Ashbourn said...

Just now I finished watching a film on The West Bank and the Gaza Strip. I felt sick to my stomach.

I felt so angry at the ignorance showed by the border police.
At a system made to hurt people – innocent people.

What stroke me most? Apart from young soldiers behaving just like young Nazis? The humiliation made to be felt by the Palestinian men to not be allowed home after a day’s work? - Not being able to say anything in their defence nor complain at the expense of being beaten up by the police?

People made to wait for no reason suffering under the hot sun, the rain or the snow while the soldiers were mumbling to themselves "let them wait, F^^^ THEM" - At one point a young mother returning home with two small children was told she had to go back – she kept crying “but I can’t go back" I dont have where to go – one soldier simply said “is that my problem? Why are you giving me your problems?” GO BACK I SAID!!

I’m a mother and God forbid my children having to grow up watching this – feeling this in their skin – day after day, year after year.

Are we surprised that this world is filled With people who have lost all hope? Of people who will kill and die killing because they no longer care? with terrorists?

I’m no longer surprised.

We plant evil and evil will flourish and that evil will come back to haunt us soon enough.

Li Ashbourn


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