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Crossing Qalandiya checkpoint on Yom Kippur

Israel/Palestine
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Palestinians wait to cross Qalandia checkpoint on their way to attend Ramadan Friday prayers in Jerusalem on Aug. 3, 2012. (Photo: Xinhua/Fadi Arouri)

Palestinians wait to cross Qalandia checkpoint on their way to attend Ramadan Friday prayers in Jerusalem on Aug. 3, 2012. (Photo: Xinhua/Fadi Arouri)

Being in Jerusalem for Yom Kippur, I sought to experience the policy of closures for religious holidays. I wanted to see for myself: What are the differences in freedom of movement, for the Muslim and the Jew, in this occupied city on a high holiday?

On Friday afternoon, the holy day of the week for Muslims, I left the research institute that I stay in in East Jerusalem and walked to the Damascus Gate. I faced two checkpoints. At the first, in the Nablus Road a block from the Old City, a dozen Israeli soldiers stood at barricades, guarding a 30-inch passage in the middle of the street. Dozens of Muslims stood on my side, evidently unable to go through to pray at Al Aqsa mosque. I sauntered up, and two women soldiers eyed me up and down and then one jerked her chin, allowing me to pass.

The next checkpoint was not so easy. Just outside Damascus Gate, two soldiers stopped me at another barricade and demanded my passport. They seemed nervous. “What are the rules?” I said with fake innocence. “There are no rules for you,” a beefy blond soldier said, returning my papers.

But for Muslims, men must be over 45 years old to enter– the usual restrictions Israel imposes to staunch protest.

A sense of Israeli control pervades the Old City on Fridays. The absence of youth diminishes the scene. The place seems drained of life. I stopped into a rugdealer’s in the Christian Quarter and when he learned I’m a journalist, the owner angrily directed me to write about the closure. “I blame the Muslims of the world,” he said. “1.5 billion of them. They should all come to the border and demand to pray. Let the Israelis shoot them. Let them kill a few hundred thousand– then they could come pray. Let them kill a million. Hitler killed 6 million. So– let them do as Hitler did. I would go to the border. I told my son today that I would.”

I’ve been in Palestine long enough to know that this kind of expression of bitter rage is not unusual. It is typical. Everyone feels the humiliation of occupation. They hate the occupation, as you would hate it, as any human being would hate it, and it gnaws at their souls. And they demand to make a witness of any foreigner.

Yom Kippur began that night at sundown. I walked into West Jerusalem to attend a service. It was 9 when the service ended, and then I walked with pleasure through the empty streets. So did hundreds of other worshipers. In one street corner, teenagers gathered to sit in the intersection and sing. Old couple strolled along the white line in the middle of the biggest streets. What a great liberated feeling.

Though it expresses sovereignty too. The idea of a sovereign community. We should all be sovereign.

On Saturday I planned to go to the West Bank so I could break my fast with Jews in Ramallah. But everyone I spoke to said that I would not be able to get in to the West Bank because Israel shuts the checkpoints for Yom Kippur.

Allison Deger got in touch with the Ministry of Tourism and told me not to come. “It appears that all checkpoints are closed tomorrow. Qalandia won’t open until late Saturday.” I checked at the Mount Scopus Hotel in East Jerusalem and they told me the same thing. Qalandia is closed. And don’t even try and get a cab to go through the Hizma crossing. The settlers of Pisgat Ze’ev will stone your car. The Palestinian super at the research institute also told me not to go to Qalandia, I would never get in. His son said the same thing. Another friend told me to try the Dead Sea entrance to the West Bank.

Still, I resolved to go. I had a story: They won’t let you travel on your holy day, and they won’t let you travel on their holy day either.

As it turned out, at 2 o’clock on Yom Kippur, I got the 18 bus in East Jerusalem and went right through Qalandiya checkpoint. No problem. No traffic.

A soldier waved our bus through. In the opposite lanes, I could see Palestinians in a line of cars, waiting to get in to the Jerusalem side. Many seemed to be getting through.

My friends in Ramallah all marveled that I had gotten in. And today when I returned to Jerusalem– passing under gunpoint this time at Qalandiya, called on to produce my passport– folks here did too. So you got through! they exclaimed. No! The super at the research institute shook his head in puzzlement. “We never know,” he said.

At first I thought I had no story. I had moved wherever I wanted on Yom Kippur.

It was when the super shook his head and said with a hapless smile, “We never know,” I understood that the contempt was the story. No one on the Palestinian side had any idea of the true conditions. They subsisted on rumors and speculation. They were told by authorities that Qalandia would be closed. But Qalandia was open.

They were not citizens seen worthy of receiving correct information. They were subjects, under an arbitrary sovereign.

philweiss
About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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44 Responses

  1. yrn
    yrn
    September 15, 2013, 6:01 am

    Poor Phil, must be so suffering among so many Zionist Jews in Jerusalem , that he had to escape to the Anti Zionist Jews in Ramallah

  2. yrn
    yrn
    September 15, 2013, 6:04 am

    “I could break my fast with Jews in Ramallah.”

    Please tell the Audience how many Jews live in Ramallah ?

    • amigo
      amigo
      September 15, 2013, 6:51 am

      “Please tell the Audience how many Jews live in Ramallah ?”yarn

      Please tell the Audience how many non Jews live in the “Jews only ” illegal settlements that house 650,000 Illegal Israelis.

    • Cliff
      Cliff
      September 15, 2013, 7:44 am

      How many Palestinians live in Israel proper?

      How did a Jewish majority arise when the land has been an Arab majority for hundreds and hundreds of years?

      Oh that’s right, Jewish terrorists RAPED and MURDERED the INDIGENOUS Palestinian Arabs until the rest of them fled in fear and terror.

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        September 15, 2013, 10:06 am

        Cliff

        The land was empty. There was a magnetic field around it that G-d broke for the first aliyah. The so called Palestinians are from Morocco and they all turned up in 1882 during a property boom.

      • K Renner
        K Renner
        September 15, 2013, 5:35 pm

        My favourite lie that Zionists use is the one where they claim that Palestinians are all Egyptians and Saudis who snuck through the borders because they had a ravaging desire to “murder innocent jews”.

        You’d think that sort of stupidity wouldn’t be bought as fact by anyone, but it turns out there’s actually a market for that. Mostly dumb-as-rocks Christian Zionists from the USA.

      • Xpat
        Xpat
        September 15, 2013, 11:24 pm

        @ Cliff – LOL.
        The proto-Palestinians left Morocco as soon as they got wind of the first Aliya. It took them longer to get from Rabat to the West Bank than Odessa to Jaffa because they were attacked by Arab governments along the way. If not for the lack of support for the soon-to-be Palestinians by 22 Arab countries, they would have made it to Palestine just ahead of the Russian Jews, oops, I meant, Israelis.

    • seafoid
      seafoid
      September 15, 2013, 8:03 am

      The settlement of Psagot is in Ramallah, you clown

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psagot

      But apparently they don’t mix with the locals because they are chosen

      • yrn
        yrn
        September 15, 2013, 10:33 am

        Oh seafoid so Phil went to break his fast with Jews in Psagot…….

        The days of the Messiah have come , phil weiss became a Zionist.

      • yrn
        yrn
        September 15, 2013, 5:51 pm

        Oh seafoid so Phil went to break his fast with Jews in Psagot…….

        The days of the Messiah have come , phil weiss became a Zionist.

      • just
        just
        September 15, 2013, 7:49 pm

        how very disingenuous of you, yrn, My guess is that you’ve not done any atonement at all.

      • Kathleen
        Kathleen
        September 16, 2013, 12:10 am

        Indeed…just words for so many.

    • Obsidian
      Obsidian
      September 16, 2013, 2:09 am

      “Please tell the Audience how many Jews live in Ramallah ?”

      Amira Hass is one.
      But she’s the only one I could think of.

  3. just
    just
    September 15, 2013, 7:06 am

    You missed the point of the article, yrn– completely, entirely, successfully. How did you spend your Yom Kippur?

    Thanks Phil.

  4. Citizen
    Citizen
    September 15, 2013, 11:09 am

    Unrelated but significant: On CSPAN just now, on segment on Intelligence & Natonal Security, some congress critters on intelligence & National Security committees were asked by Frances Townsend what they thought of the Guardian’s report that NSA gave Israel its domestic spying metadata–unfiltered. They totally avoided the question as if it had not been asked. I guess American citizens talking amongst themselves really have no right to privacy anymore. Oh, now Rep Mike Rogers, R Mich, Intell Committee Chair, responds we have not been giving our spy dragnet data to Israel. He says the Guardian report is wrong. In short, “trust me.”

  5. Obsidian
    Obsidian
    September 15, 2013, 2:34 pm

    Angry Arab clansmen from Anata attack Border Patrol. Again.

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4429996,00.html

  6. seafoid
    seafoid
    September 15, 2013, 3:06 pm

    What sort of waiting times do Jews typically have at the New York checkpoints ?

  7. Fredman
    Fredman
    September 15, 2013, 3:39 pm

    > “They were not citizens seen worthy of receiving correct information. They were subjects, under an arbitrary sovereign.”

    This is common to all humans forced to live under centralized State authority, though Zionism adds its own pernicious strain of ugly to the arbitrary.

    Zionism is a dying ideology. In the next two or three generations, Zionism will have gone the way of its parent Eugenics. It’s my hope that the death of Zionism will allow to come to light the centuries of brilliant Jewish thought* with regard to the dangers of centralized State authority instead of continued worship of the bastard child of Baal and Moloch in the guise of State identity.

    Great article, Phil. Continued prayers for your protection and guidance.

    ——

    *Franz Oppenheimer, for example:

    The State, completely in its genesis, essentially and almost completely during the first stages of its existence, is a social institution, forced by a victorious group of men on a defeated group, with the sole purpose of regulating the dominion of the victorious group over the vanquished, and securing itself against revolt from within and attacks from abroad. Teleologically, this dominion had no other purpose than the economic exploitation of the vanquished by the victors.

    No primitive state known to history originated in any other manner. Wherever a reliable tradition reports otherwise, either it concerns the amalgamation of two fully developed primitive states into one body of more complete organisation; or else it is an adaptation to men of the fable of the sheep which made a bear their king in order to be protected against the wolf. But even in this latter case, the form and content of the State became precisely the same as in those states where nothing intervened, and which became immediately “wolf states.”

    http://www.franz-oppenheimer.de/state0.htm#Introduction_a

  8. kalithea
    kalithea
    September 15, 2013, 3:40 pm

    Yom Kippur for Zionists:

    PRAY that God forgives you for the many crimes you committed against Palestinians.
    Repent for the crimes committed to protect Zionism.
    Be charitable with the victims/refugees of your crimes.

    Oh, y’all did none of that cause you think it doesn’t count???

    Looks like more karma’s being written down in the Big Book. Don’t say I didn’t warn y’all!

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      September 16, 2013, 8:17 am

      If one believes Palestinians are cockroaches, one commits no crime or sin by crushing them. Ergo, no need to atone for that once a year.

  9. wondering jew
    wondering jew
    September 15, 2013, 6:06 pm

    “A sense of Israeli control pervades the Old City on Fridays.”

    Not enough to write “Israeli control pervades the Old City on this Friday” Weiss sees fit to generalize from his one experience.

    It would have been accurate to write “a sense of Israeli control pervades the Old City on this Friday, as it has on most Fridays since the calm of Ramadan has given way to the protests since then.”

    There were four Fridays during Ramadan this year. Did Israeli control pervade the Old City on those Fridays? Did the IDF limit prayers to those over 45? I don’t think so. (I was in the Old City on only one of those Fridays and on that Friday the answer was decidedly not.)

    Why generalize? Because it’s easy and it’s what MW is known for.

    I’m sure they didn’t teach that in journalism school, unless there’s a class called propaganda, how to.

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      September 16, 2013, 8:39 am

      “Not enough to write “Israeli control pervades the Old City on this Friday” Weiss sees fit to generalize from his one experience.”

      Israeli control pervades the Old City every day, not just Fridays. Look at the street signs. Look at the idf terrorists and their guns. Look at the absence of the Palestinians from the area surrounding al-Quds who are kept away by the racists.

  10. German Lefty
    German Lefty
    September 15, 2013, 6:09 pm

    “I blame the Muslims of the world,” he said. “1.5 billion of them. They should all come to the border and demand to pray. Let the Israelis shoot them. Let them kill a few hundred thousand– then they could come pray. Let them kill a million. Hitler killed 6 million. So– let them do as Hitler did. I would go to the border. I told my son today that I would.”

    I don’t quite understand what the rugdealer wants to express. Is he a Christian who wants Muslims to be killed? Or does he just want the world to realise that the Zionists are like Nazis?

    • just
      just
      September 15, 2013, 7:54 pm

      I wonder as well.

      • Xpat
        Xpat
        September 15, 2013, 11:19 pm

        Is he a Christian who wants Muslims to be killed?
        He said: I would go to the border
        That seems to make him a Palestinian Muslim railing against international Muslims’ indifference to his plight, and, of course, against the Israelis’ violent repression of Islamic tradition.

  11. American
    American
    September 15, 2013, 7:20 pm

    Good story…..made the real point…..Palestine never know from moment to moment what they will or wont be allowed to do…..always waiting on their masters decisions or whims.

  12. cogit8
    cogit8
    September 15, 2013, 7:20 pm

    Hello Phil and thank you for the report on Qalandia Checkpoint. I think we are making some progress with the MSM: tonight on CNN, Anthony Bourdain travels to Gaza, West Bank, and Jerusalem. I’ve seen the previews and Bourdain comments on much more than the food. The camera work is excellent also, so people will see Gaza relatively unfiltered, people cooking over camp-fires, etc, life as it really is in the streets. Not only that, but the Qalandia checkpoint itself is shown in all it’s concentration camp reality, and Bourdain is almost speechless trying to find words to describe it truthfully while not upsetting you know who. You actually see him walking through the half-mile of barbed wire, gates, cattle chutes, turnstiles, etc. All in all, a CNN show not to be missed !

    Speaking of CNN, it’s interesting watching Fareed Zakaria’s show each sunday. Last sunday, when it seemed like we would attack Syria, he featured every war-hawk including (incredibly) Wolfowitz and Leiberman I recall. A total pandering to inside the beltway war-mongers. This sunday was a complete turnaround, with Zakaria making a strong case that Iraq had been a disaster and Syria would be an even bigger one, featuring a barely alive H Kissenger and a feisty as usual Brezhinsky who said we should stay out of Syria.

  13. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    September 15, 2013, 9:47 pm

    RE: Palestinians wait to cross Qalandia checkpoint on their way to attend Ramadan Friday prayers in Jerusalem on Aug. 3, 2012. ~ caption from photo

    MY COMMENT: Looking at that photo of Palestinians waiting to pass through the Qalandia checkpoint, I am reminded of the “chutes” they run cattle through at feed lots and such (except that the ones for cattle are sometimes nicer).

    FROM WIKIPEDIA [The Cattle Call]:

    [EXCERPT] “The Cattle Call” is a song written and recorded in 1934 by American songwriter and musician Tex Owens.[1] It became a signature song for Eddy Arnold.
    Owens wrote the song in Kansas City while watching the snow fall. “Watching the snow, my sympathy went out to cattle everywhere, and I just wished I could call them all around me and break some corn over a wagon wheel and feed them. That’s when the words ‘cattle call’ came to my mind. I picked up my guitar, and in thirty minutes I had wrote the music and four verses to the song,” he said.[2] He recorded it again in 1936. . .

    SOURCE – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cattle_Call

    The Original CATTLE CALL by Tex Owens 1934 [VIDEO, 03:02] – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxSqD79TU_Y

  14. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    September 15, 2013, 10:26 pm

    RE: So you got through! they exclaimed. No! The super at the research institute shook his head in puzzlement. “We never know,” he said. At first I thought I had no story. I had moved wherever I wanted on Yom Kippur. It was when the super shook his head and said with a hapless smile, “We never know,” I understood that the contempt was the story. No one on the Palestinian side had any idea of the true conditions. They subsisted on rumors and speculation. They were told by authorities that Qalandia would be closed. But Qalandia was open. ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: If ya wanna keep ’em docile, ya gotta keep ’em guessin’ (through the use of “maintained uncertainty” to induce a sense of “permanent temporariness”*) ! ! ! It is an excellent way for Israel to imbue Palestinians with a sense of “learned helplessness”**.

    * FROM ALISTAIR CROOKE, London Review of Books, 03/03/11:

    [EXCERPTS] . . . It was [Ariel] Sharon who pioneered the philosophy of ‘maintained uncertainty’ that repeatedly extended and then limited the space in which Palestinians could operate by means of an unpredictable combination of changing and selectively enforced regulations, and the dissection of space by settlements, roads Palestinians were not allowed to use and continually shifting borders. All of this was intended to induce in the Palestinians a sense of permanent temporariness. . .
    . . . It suits Israel to have a ‘state’ without borders so that it can keep negotiating about borders, and count on the resulting uncertainty to maintain acquiescence. . .

    SOURCE – http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n05/alastair-crooke/permanent-temporariness

    ** FROM WIKIPEDIA [Learned helplessness]:

    [EXCERPT] Learned helplessness is the condition of a human or animal that has learned to behave helplessly, failing to respond even though there are opportunities for it to help itself by avoiding unpleasant circumstances or by gaining positive rewards. Learned helplessness theory is the view that clinical depression and related mental illnesses may result from a perceived absence of control over the outcome of a situation.[1] Organisms which have been ineffective and less sensitive in determining the consequences of
    their behavior are defined as having acquired learned helplessness.[2]
    The American psychologist Martin Seligman’s foundational experiments and theory of learned helplessness began at the University of Pennsylvania in 1967, as an extension of his interest in depression. Quite by accident, Seligman and colleagues discovered that the conditioning of dogs led to outcomes that opposed the predictions of B.F. Skinner’s behaviorism, then a leading psychological theory.[3][4]

    Experiment
    Summary
    In the learned helplessness experiment an animal is repeatedly hurt by an adverse stimulus which it cannot escape.
    Eventually the animal will stop trying to avoid the pain and behave as if it is utterly helpless to change the situation.
    Finally, when opportunities to escape are presented, this learned helplessness prevents any action. The only coping mechanism the animal uses is to be stoical and put up with the discomfort, not expending energy getting worked up about the adverse stimulus. . .

    SOURCE – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learned_helplessness

  15. RJL
    RJL
    September 16, 2013, 3:55 pm

    Seafoid, who is the real clown? There are settlements near Ramallah, but hardly within the city limits. We all understand that. But you, who preaches against zionist “cruelty’, have you ever once mentioned your revulsion to the countless Jewish victims of Palestinian suicide bombers? NOT ONCE. You are the amoral, or immoral, clown, but it isn’t funny. Sober up.

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      September 16, 2013, 5:33 pm

      “There are settlements near Ramallah, but hardly within the city limits.”

      As if that made a difference. Get them the hell out of Palestine. They have no place East of the 1967 line.

      “But you, who preaches against zionist “cruelty’, have you ever once mentioned your revulsion to the countless Jewish victims of Palestinian suicide bombers?”

      Worse than bombers is the Jewish population of the israeli state repeatedly, election after election, electing governments whose primary function is to fight the terrorist war you zios are fighting against the Palestinian people. If a few of those voters die in that war, rather than agreeing to a peace upon a full withdraw of all israelis to the 1967 lines, they ultimately only have themselves to blame, don’t they?

    • Cliff
      Cliff
      September 16, 2013, 11:14 pm

      There are no ‘countless’ victim of Palestinian suicide bombing.

      There’s a very specific number because Palestinian suicide bombing began in 1994 and ended around 2006 or so.

      Israel kills 10 times the number of children and 5 times the number of civilians in general.

      YOU kill more innocent civilians than those dastardly non-existent suicide bombers EVER did.

      So peddle your hateful propaganda back at AtlasShrugged.

    • Bumblebye
      Bumblebye
      September 16, 2013, 11:19 pm

      The Palestinian victims of zionist supremacism (from the early Jewish terrorist militias to the State terror) are far, far harder to count over the course of decades than the very small easily countable numbers of Jewish victims of Palestinian suicide bombers. I suppose the NON Jewish victims of same just don’t factor in.

  16. RJL
    RJL
    September 16, 2013, 4:02 pm

    Phil, wow, you actually fasted on Yom Kippur? Because you believe in G-d/Hashem, or because you want Him to believe in you? Is it also a means of showing solidarity with the Jews, many of whom are your besmirched “zio/fascist/etc.” Jews, Jews who live in “occupied” West Jerusalem. Where you chose to walk around, not in East Jerusalem. How come? Maybe there’s still some hope for you, Phil. Maybe your hateful journalism will one day have something nice to say about the Jews. Try reaching deep into your Jewish soul and see if you have any love for the Jewish People. Forget the derogatory term the “chosen people.” It’s just the Jewish people, who love the land of our forefathers, care for the welfare of other Jews, believe in varying degrees in Torah, and believe in varying degrees in G-d, who gave us the Torah. K.I.S.S.

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      September 16, 2013, 4:56 pm

      RJL,

      What a disgustingly statement; as if being Jewish automatically requires Phil to overlook injustice, simply because it’s being done by Jews.

    • Xpat
      Xpat
      September 16, 2013, 11:11 pm

      RJL – If the writers and commentators here bother you so much, why do you stay? You must know that your insults have zero impact on the conversation and actually say much more about you than anybody else.
      So, why not find some like-minded people on the Internet, hang out with them and pretend Mondoweiss doesn’t exist.
      What keeps bringing you back here?

      • Cliff
        Cliff
        September 16, 2013, 11:12 pm

        His hatred.

  17. just
    just
    September 16, 2013, 10:47 pm

    Which “forefathers” RJL?

    (btw, you appear to be both a very angry and rude person.)

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