Fear and apartheid in the West Bank

I want to relate a very small moment from my visit to the West Bank. 

Last Thursday morning, a friend and I took a cab out of Nablus to the Jewish settlement of Ariel. Nablus is of course a legendary Palestinian city, and our driver was a Palestinian, driving a yellow Palestinian cab, and as we came down the road off Highway 5 toward the settlement, I sensed apprehension on his part.

I think you can glimpse that concern in his eyes in the photo below. 

Video 15 0 00 00 01
Approaching Ariel, 1

The road we were on is actually a shared road. Right before you get to Ariel, there’s an Israeli military checkpoint on the right with two heavily-armed soldiers and concrete barriers. This checkpoint blocks the Palestinian village of Salfit, which is at the edge of Ariel.

And the military checkpoint is there so that Palestinians don’t come out of Salfit and go into Ariel.

The photo below captures the moment that we passed the checkpoint at Salfit. What the hell are we doing going toward Ariel? Our driver is identifiably Palestinian, in a Palestinian car– now approaching the Ariel gate.

And he’s afraid. That’s why he suddenly holds up his hand to show he means no harm. And in the next couple seconds, he turns sharply around to the left, so that the guards ahead of us don’t freak out.

Video 15 0 00 03 17
Approaching Ariel, 2

You can see the guards in this photo. They’re the two dark figures at the center, under the red-clay tile roof. They’re not soldiers. My friend and I later talked to them. One was a yokel with a wispy blond beard, and a semi-automatic rifle slung over his shoulder. The other was a tough, darkhaired woman in a jacket. Settlers.

Last summer the Nation published an important piece by Stephen Robert, a one-time Zionist, saying that the situation in Palestine is “apartheid on steroids”. When you travel around the West Bank–and Israel too– you understand what he means. There’s a thorough-going philosophy of separation. Keep the Palestinians here so that Jewish society will go on unperturbed. Keep the societies apart.

In that photo, our driver has brushed up briefly against the separation line. And he’s afraid.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine, Occupation, On the ground reports | Tagged

{ 24 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Citizen says:

    Yeah, right, Phil–what did you expect if not what you described?

  2. W.Jones says:

    To a big extent Mondoweiss is a light in the darkness.

    may your candle burn forever.

  3. A non-event breathlessly covered by our intrepid reporter.

    C’mon Phil. You’re in the belly of the freakin beast.

    • Mndwss says:

      Dog eat dog…

      “You’re in the belly of the freakin beast.”

      Phil. You’re in the belly of the zionist occupation. Where proud zionists digest Palestine.

      A non-event.

      Palestinians like to be digested…

      A non-event.


      Dog in Škoda scared to death by rabid zionist settler dogs…

      A non-event.

      It happens all the time…

      A non-event.

    • chocopie says:

      Says a lot that anyone would call this a non-event. When was the last time you risked your life to earn ten or fifteen bucks? If they shot him, there’d be some story about how he tried to speed past a checkpoint.

      • OlegR says:

        Are you actually saying that there is no Palestinian
        terrorism and that no Palestinian has ever tried to run a roadblock
        or kill the soldiers manning it?

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          It isn’t terrorism for a Palestinian to kill an Israeli manning a checkpoint or an Israelis settler. It’s self-defense; fighting for the freedom of Palestine and no different, for example, then the Maquis killing the Germans who invaded France in 1940.

        • Bumblebye says:

          There’s 100 times as much Israeli terrorism, and what the heck are you doing in the West Bank anyway? It’s somebody elses country. Or are you only capable of attacking virtually unarmed people? Y’know, like you *personally* did in Gaza, according to your profile?

        • Chaos4700 says:

          I think this is the first time I’ve ever actually been confirmed to address someone who personally admitted to blowing up hospitals, schools and ambulances. And is proud of it. Huh.

        • dimadok says:

          @Chaos. To add to the insult you’ve been posting all over my comments, and I was active IDF member during second intifada and reservist during Defense Wall and Cast Lead.

        • Dan Crowther says:

          Your a true warrior dimster

        • dimadok says:

          Good morning to you as well.

        • Chaos4700 says:

          You’ll have to forgive me, dimadok. I don’t devote a whole lot of time to the finer details of just who I’ve met that have bombed and shot at Palestinian children, then celebrate about it later.

        • weindeb says:

          Yes, pure and simple!

        • OlegR says:

          /It’s somebody elses country./ Well yes it was Jordan’s until 1967 and
          the Brits before that and Ottomans before that and then it was occupied by us.
          Don’t actually remember it being Palestinian as in state or government.
          It was supposed to become theirs in 1948 with the partition but their leaders
          rejected it so it’s kinda complicated.
          Just because you think it’s some one else doesn’t make it so.
          /Or are you only capable of attacking virtually unarmed people?/
          Again it was captured from the Jordan kingdom in 1967 hardly a virtually
          unarmed people.

          And please don’t try to insult me.

  4. talknic says:

    These settlers are armed Israelis = belligerents = valid military targets.

  5. Erasmus says:

    Continued Education + Advanced Reality Studies

    Hi, Phil,

    it seems that your sojourn in the WB reaps ” good” results and benefits wrt balancing theory and desk with occupation realities on the human and every day level, including the steroid department. :-)

  6. Chaos4700 says:

    Can somebody else respond to Oleg? Apparently, I’m not allowed to.