I’ve decided that I don’t care about the Palestinian cause enough to suffer so. If there was a large body of water in Ramallah, I might feel differently. But, as it is, my only option is to give up on my solidarity work and move to Tel Aviv to partake in the sweet pleasure of lounging on the beach.
Can you imagine? Really, I want you to picture this in your mind. A horrendously hot day in Ramallah. 90 degrees or more. Dry miserable desert heat, sticky asphalt melting the soles of your shoes, offices with no air conditioning. No amount of water can relieve the headache of dehydration. Sweat seeps through your shirt forming awkward patches under your arms and the small of your back.
Can you feel it?
Now I want you to look out across the horizon and see the delicious cool comfort of the Mediterranean Sea. That’s it. From where you stand, sweating and cranky, you can see it off in the distance. Sweet relief almost within reach.
But not if you’re Palestinian.
If you have a West Bank ID, you will sooner be shot than allowed dip one toe in the ocean.
At least the Gazans have the beach. Of course, that’s not too safe either, as Israel regularly shoots at fishermen straying too far into the ocean and even killed seven people relaxing on the beach last summer, including a whole family of picnickers, minus the young daughter who was captured on film screaming as she watched over the corpses of her parents and three young siblings. (See the Human Rights Watch report on the investigation of the killings)
But wait, why risk death when there is water in the West Bank. The West Bank, Israel and Jordan all border the salty shores of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth.
Unfortunately, Israel has set up checkpoints along the route. Palestinians are expressly banned the Dead Sea on the Israel side, but they are also routinely turned away from the section of the Dead Sea that falls within the occupied West Bank. Lest they strap rust and water proof explosives to their bodies and bob across the saltiest body of water on earth to fulfill their only mission in life (which according to Israel and the West isn’t just to live normal lives, raise families, go to school, work and maybe even enjoy the beach every now and then. No, of course not. If that were the case, then there would be no excuse for this inhuman occupation. So it must be that everyone, including old ladies, deceptively adorable children and cell phone chatting teenagers just want to martyr themselves in the name of Allah).
In a show of generosity, Israel has decided to allow Palestinians to visit the Dead Sea on Tuesdays. Only Tuesdays. Why not Thursdays? Or Saturdays, for that matter? Perhaps Israel ran some focus groups and found that these crazed terrorists were miraculously pacific on Tuesdays. Friday is the Muslim holy day and we all know what that means… Scary men with beards and women with headscarves that threaten Western values running around screaming “Death to America” and “Kill the Jews” and these are sentiments no one wants to pollute the lovely waters of the Dead Sea. So Fridays are out of the question. What about Sundays? The day of rest for those mysterious must be violent because they are Arab, but somehow less threatening, Christian Palestinians. They don’t even use the words Allah or Jihad. But they still use words like resistance and illegal occupation, so I guess Sundays are out as well.
So Tuesdays it is.
Here’s a novel idea, why not just end the occupation, take down the wall and let people live normal lives and enjoy the beach.
Then I wouldn’t be sitting here sweating and cranky in an office with no air conditioning. I’d be at the beach, swimming, laughing and joking with my all too normal and human Palestinian friends.
Posted By Eliza Bates
Posted Jun 26th, 2007