Friday, April 2, 2010

Permits, Passes, Passover

Permits, Passes, Passover

"They kept us locked up for 2 days.  It was like a prison cell. It was closed, with metal windows, bunk beds with just a mattress. No cover. I put my sweater over my son to keep him warm.  He was 8 years old at the time. My son was born in Germany.  My husband and I went to university in Germany and we stayed because in Palestine we couldn't find work. I was carrying our German passports when my son and I were locked up.  They said we couldn't pass because I was Palestinian.  After 2 days, they sent us back to Germany."  (Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv)

"I used to go every Friday with my husband and my son.  Every Friday we went and prayed there at noon.  Now we can't pray there anymore."  (Al Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem)

"After the construction, we couldn't build, expand or add anything to our home. For anything we wanted to build, we needed a permit and Israel won't grant you a permit as everything you do is a threat to their security."  (Route 60 at "Area C")

"I was granted a permit to enter Jerusalem for the Easter holidays.  So were my children.  But my husband was not. In the morning, my family and I
attended the Greek Orthodox service at the Nativity Church in Bethlehem.
In the afternoon, my children and I stood in line at the Checkpoint to enter Jerusalem so we could join the procession from Mt.Olive.  It is very beautiful. But they closed the checkpoint and we were not able to pass." (Palm Sunday, Bethlehem, Checkpoint 300)

"Israel will close off the West Bank from Midnight Sunday until midnight April 6 for the duration of Passover holiday, the Israeli military spokesman announced Sunday morning…..

The closure is in keeping with the Israeli practice of sealing off the West Bank ahead of Jewish festivals, fearing militants might try to launch attacks to disrupt the festivities."        Haaretz

We see them:
Palestinians, Israelis and internationals are making their way through an opening in the car gate.  They're carrying white flags and Palestinian flags and chanting. 

I am standing in line with hundreds of Palestinians waiting to pass through the checkpoint -- people who are granted a permit only once a year, if that.  Suddenly, these people are prohibited from passing through the checkpoint. (Palm Sunday, Bethlehem, Checkpoint 300)

We hear that the protestors are met with the military on the Jerusalem side.  Palestinians are beaten and many people are hauled off to jail…

I receive an e-m invitation sent out to Activists Against the Wall:

"Are there folks on this list (locals or internationals, Jews or from other religious traditions) who would like to be at a Seder this year but don't have a Seder to go to where they'd feel comfortable?
 I'm doing a semi-traditional Seder with my friends focusing on the values of social justice, diversity & inclusion, gender equality, animal rights etc..
Will be happy to have people join. The Seder will take place in North Tel Aviv.  Pick-ups can be arranged. Will make an effort to accommodate special needs (dietary, etc.)   Esther

Dear Esther,  I so much appreciate your invitation to a  semi-traditional Passover Seder.  I'm a Jewish American and am working in Bethlehem.. Knowing the reality here in the West  Bank, it is very difficult for me to allow myself to attend a Passover  Seder in Israel - I am more than reluctant to phone relatives  I have in Israel-- as I am not supposed to say anything about "Palestinians"  to them. However,  I also miss being with family back home  and the family Seders I've been part of since childhood.   I would need to work out details about coming to you from here.....

The next day, we get to Jerusalem by taking Bus 21 from Beit Jala.
That bus has been forbidden for use by internationals; but today, they let us on, probably because Checkpoint 300 is closed. 

There are 5 of us in Esther's small apartment: 2 young German guys with whom I work, a Russian couple, myself and Esther. 

There is an orange and an olive on the Seder plate..... 

The second day of Passover, we walk on the boardwalk by the sea.  Performers, balloons, kids on roller blades, bikes, kites flying, families strolling, so many strollers, many pregnant women, the fresh sea air, people at boardwalk cafes, sipping, licking, tasting, laughing... -- all that freedom.  (Boardwalk, Tel Aviv, March, 2010)

It washes over me -- like a tidal wave... 

"Love and Justice in Times of War Haggadah." 

Thank you, Esther, for this bridge allowing passage between two worlds.


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