Checkpoints & Interviews & Gunpoints

I just got another phone call

from my friend in Bethlehem

who is more educated than I am

but is waiting to hear back

about a job scrubbing toilets

and emptying bed pans

at a nursing home

in Jerusalem

and his pay

after a month’s worth of hard days

will be 3,000 shekels

but a one month permit

for the right to submit

to checkpoints

and soldiers who look at you

like an animal in a zoo

is 2,000 shekels

so the take home pay

for one month of hard work

and checkpoints

and yes sir

and yes ma’am

and one month of your heart breaking

for the young soldiers

who just don’t realize…

one month of the system claiming

more of your humanity

as it’s prize

the pay for an entire month of this

is less than I used to make

in a day

working construction

and the destruction of Palestine

is on going

but the people aren’t showing

any signs of breaking

they are taking the high road

checkpoints and all

but they pray for the day

that the walls will all fall

down

and there will be no more checkpoints

to get to the city

much less,

to get across town

and when I say to my friend

‘try not to let this get you down’

he says he’s just doing

what he’s got to do

and he’ll always be polite

so the soldiers let him through

so he can get to work

to make a little money

to help his family.

 

I started to cry

when my friend said

that, though many of his friends

have wound up dead

or in prison

he said,

“These soldiers,

these 18, 19, 20 year old kids

they are the victims of this occupation

far more than me and my family,

these kids, made to hold a rifle

and play judge, jury

and executioner

made to play God

they are the victims

because they can’t see

that we’re the same.

I don’t blame them

they just don’t know

they just don’t know…”

 

He said that the other day

when he was being interviewed

to get a one day permit

to pass through

to the other side of the great divide

for his job interview

a young soldier

who couldn’t have been more than 18,

maybe 19 years old

was shocked when he answered the first question

in English

and the soldier responded

in English

and the rest of the interview was conducted

in English

and the young soldier’s demeanor changed

and he found it strange

that my friend spoke English at all

much less

fluently

and that he had more than one degree…

and the young soldier began

to see my friend

as a human being

on equal ground

and after he found my friend’s humanity

and the interview went pleasantly

and my friend got the permit

and he found out

that this young soldier who spoke English fluently

was from the east coast

of the United States

but the fate of Palestinians

wanting to work in Israel

for a take home pay

of less than 10 US dollars a day

shouldn’t rely on them speaking

fluent English

or having multiple degrees

and it shouldn’t rely on

the rare young soldier

who is able to look past the dehumanization

which is much needed for any occupation,

to look past that…

and see their humanity

because humanity is something

that soldiers are trained

not to see…

is something that people are trained

not to see

but this is wrong

and it does not have to be

and it hurts everyone involved

and only after all of the walls come down

and apartheid is no more

only then

will there be

no more victims

and only then

will people on both sides

of this apartheid

be free…

 

But,

sadly

that’s not how settler colonialism works

and if the world remains

silent

the occupying army

will only become

more and more violent

and there will only be

more and more checkpoints

and more and more Palestinians

living their lives at gunpoint

and more and more interviews

and less and less soldiers

able to see any humanity at all

and more and more bullets

and more and more bombs

and less and less of a chance

that the wall will ever fall

and more and more settlements

with swimming pools

and less and less clean water

for refugees

who are forced to beg God,

please send some rain!

and America never reined in

it’s own expansion

so Israel is only following

our example

they just want to be

a great democracy

like us

no matter how many people

and places

they have to trample

no matter how many more villages

they have to bulldoze

to create more open spaces

to build more and more settlements

on top of aquifers …

but we should all remember

that without us,

the people

there could be no

oppressive governments.

 

If my friend can empathize

with his oppressor

if he can can feel sorry

for the young soldiers

cast into this violent roll

how can anything but

complete liberation

for my friend and his people

be anybody’s goal?

 

If we remain silent,

or worse

if we keep blaming the victim

and aiding and abetting the oppressor

massacres in Gaza and Jenin

will be remembered

alongside Bear River

and Wounded Knee

and America

will have no less blood

on it’s hands

than in the days

when Uncle Sam

was killing natives by the dozen

and colonizing

all of their land

from sea to shining sea

Israel is just doing what we taught them

from sea to shining sea

we need to wake up now

and pull our heads

out of our asses

so we can see

the humanity

of the Palestinians

before it’s too late

because,

at this rate

by Israel’s ‘centennial’ in 2048

all that will remain

of Palestine

will be a handful of reservations

surrounded by 30 foot concrete walls

and there might be a few casinos

and there will likely be liquor stores

and meth labs

but no healthcare, or education,

or rehab

and there will probably still be interviews

for costly work permits

and security for people like my friend

to submit to

every single day

and the world will shrug

and all we will be able to say is

“So it goes…”

 

 

About soitgoes1984

I was born and raised on land stolen from the Pocumtuc. I now live on a small island in the middle of the Pacific ocean, on land that was stolen more recently, from the Hawaiians. I am addict, struggling to kick the habit of fossil fuel. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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