opening the border
February 22, 2009 § 1 Comment
egypt has opened the rafah border…
this border has become my hope for entry into palestine because it is the only official border crossing that is not controlled by israel. even though egypt has basically kept the border closed for the past couple of years in response to hamas being elected in the gazan government.
a few days ago, i asked a pro-palestine activist here in cairo who had been to both gaza and the west bank what were the differences between the to regions of palestine. he said that gaza is basically an open-air prison where israel locks you up and throws away the key. israel would basically like to get rid of gaza, pass it off to egypt to handle. so getting in and out of gaza is really hard but once you are in gaza…you are basically left alone.
the west bank is a different story. israel would really like to keep the west bank and get rid of all the palestinians who live there. so that is why in the west bank you are constantly dealing with checkpoints and more checkpoints, and flying checkpoints, and i.d. checks, and soldiers, and curfews, etc. etc. etc. that is why if you live in part (bantustan) of the west bank you arent allowed to travel to another part (bantustan) of the west bank without special permission from the israeli government/military.
its true. when i was in the west bank in 2006, i was shocked the first time i saw the bethlehem checkpoint. back in 2003, the first time i had been to bethlehem, the checkpoint was nothing more than alot of dangerous poky wire, really tall fences, and a white washed lean-to with a turnstyle…in 2006, the bethlehem checkpoint (built by israelis) looked like an air terminal or a border crossing between nations. and i was so pissed to see it because the bethlehem checkpoint divides east jerusalem from bethlehem, and that is a division of palestinian cities, not a division of nation-states.
israel is constantly fucking with facts on the ground. constantly making new borders. constantly demarcating land that isnt theirs. constantly making refugees of people who havent moved.
i keep imagining this lil border of rafah that egypt controls being like a gate that opens at the whim of wind in the desert. or the way that i have to stand and wait for the crazy afternoon traffic to clear just enough on midan tahrir in downtown cairo so that i can run across the street without getting hit. sometimes i end up standing there forever waiting for the lil gap between the cars to appear. sometimes (the best times) there are a few of us pedestrians who accumulate on the sidewalk waiting to cross and then when we get the right amount of mass of human beings standing together, we just start to walk and the cars have to stop.
and that’s what its all about.