Today we traveled to Ramallah in the West Bank. Ramallah is the seat of the Palestinian Authrority. We heard brilliant, brave, courageous activist talk about their struggle against Apartheid under military rule and military law. To go from Jerusalem to Ramallah you have to pass through the Qalandia Checkpoint. On the way to Ramallah from Jerusalem you pass right through but on the way back it is a different story. You have to present your papers to get to back into Jerusalem. The ironic part is that all Palestinians aren’t allowed to pass through only the lucky few (yet another story).
We walked through the checkpoint to try and get a small sense of what the less than 1% of Palestinians who can pass through have to deal with on the daily. Literally it was as if we were going into a maximum security prison. Walking down the walk way reminded me of something prepared for the slaughter of live stock. Meeting the floor to ceiling turnstile that only let’s a few people in at a time, as buzzers go off, lights flash, and you hear the clanks of the steel. A guard from behind a glass cage yells orders at you. You stand and wait, confused, perplexed, angry, sad, frustrated! How can this be an everyday experience? How do people live knowing it will take them hours to pass through the checkpoint DAILY! How can innocent human-beings be treated like convicted criminals everyday? Is this Apartheid? Is this really happening in 2013? Is this Military Occupation happening on our watch?
As I stood in that place today I couldn’t help but weep. I felt helpless. After hearing presenters earlier in the day tell us they don’t even have the right to protest for rights. There is no due process under military law. I am completely overwhelmed at this point. Don’t tell me what you’ve read, don’t tell me what you watched, don’t tell what somebody told you. Come and see for yourself. All I can say is: How long?