When I went through the Qalandia checkpoint in Palestine a week or two back, I kept thinking, Anyone who lobbies for Israel in the U.S. should be forced through this checkpoint. All the congressmen should come here too. What upset me was the banality of humiliation: experiencing the draggy line that took 20 minutes, and the cattle car/industrial buzzings and lights and automatic gates; seeing a dapper middle-aged guy forced to go back for who knows what reason; seeing the fingerprint reader; and then watching a matronly woman whose papers weren’t perfect standing in paralysis or fear or helplessness before looking around with a redfaced childish expression of dauntedness. Observing her humiliation angered me. Then I went through and the young Israelis barked, "Open it, open it," at me as I held up my passport.
A few days after that I went through again, this time on a bus with a group of Americans, but with one Palestinian who had been issued a permit for the wrong days by Israeli authorities. We had worked it out so that a few of us had our passports and a few of us had them in our bags in the trunk of the bus, and she was in the back of the bus, all this so the Israeli soldiers would come on the bus, see a few American passports, get a story about the rest, not see the Palestinian woman, then wave us through. I sat across from her and saw her rounded shoulders. Everything went to plan. Two soldiers came on the bus, but only for a minute or two. When we got through the Palestinian sat back and said she had almost had a heart attack. Then someone on our bus told a story of the time she went through and they forced an elderly Palestinian man to lift his caftan over his head, showing his underwear.
One more Qalandia story. Here is Joseph Glatzer at the Cal State Northridge newspaper, reporting on his trip to Israel and Palestine:
In trying to leave Ramallah for Jerusalem, I got stuck in the Qalandia checkpoint for two and a half hours. Palestinians in Ramallah aren’t allowed to enter Jerusalem without rarely granted written permission from Israel.
Inside the checkpoint’s cage, I met Osama Jamil M. Al-Bast, a Director General in the President’s office of the Palestinian Authority. He showed me his one day permission slip
for Jerusalem to attend an official meeting with European Union diplomats. I was next to him when the call that he missed the meeting came in.
He told me that once you’re in the second cage of the checkpoint you can’t go back. So, he had to wait another half hour before he could go through just to turn around again…
Upon finally making it back to Jerusalem, I took a taxi to the bus station. I was still fuming from my checkpoint ordeal, and the Israeli driver told me, “The checkpoints are there to make the Palestinians leave Palestine…"