Tag Archives: Israel

Hello Tequila Produced Darkness, My Old Friend

*More brilliance from Ben! Enjoy!*
I view guest posts like the American military views illegal wars – one is never enough. So I return to you. Triumphantly, I would like to think, but as the only genuine obstacle I can really claim to be triumphing over is my own inherent laziness it seems like something of an empty statement. Once more, then, I invade this small section of the “blogosphere” in order to ejaculate my own personal brand of sarcasm and attempted wit into your eagerly reading eyes.

You’ve missed me, though, haven’t you? Admit it. You publicly pretended to be offended, disturbed or even uninterested in my last piece here but secretly you’ve been desperately waiting, hoping, hiding under the bedsheets late at night with the crumpled up printout of my last contribution, reading and re reading it by torchlight before crying yourself to sleep, wondering if my words of genius would ever return to this dusty old website. Well fear not, for here I am, metaphorically wiping the tears from your eyes and tucking you in for the night in a way that blurs the line between “comforting” and “creepster”..

So as Sara continues to entertain us with her constant invitations to fellate her and offers the culture in which she is living the respect that her moral relativism demands by founding Nablus’ first strip club I thought I’d attempt to give you all a little more insight into the life we live here. I’d like to tell you that it’s a docile, intellectual environment of friendly cohabitation and stimulating, respectful conversation. But I’d be lying, you’d be bored and Sara would be horribly misrepresented. So let’s dig for the juicy, uncensored truth instead.

Perfect vodka. I’d like to recommend it to you but the honesty of the recommendation would be somewhat akin to recommending a meth habit or the film “Panic Room”. And much like those things, perfect vodka may seem a good idea at the time but you’ll inevitably spend the rest of your life scarred by your experience, regretting your decision and suppressing the nightmares that it will undoubtedly produce. My introduction to the substance came through Sara, of course. On our first trip to Ramallah to procure the alcohol that is forbidden in the area in which we live I had picked up a couple of bottles of wine. Sara, on the other hand, rejected any thought of purchasing anything with an alcohol content of less than 40% and went straight towards the perfect. The price tag, considerably cheaper than any other spirit in the shop, didn’t seem to serve as the warning that it should have, nor did the fact that it was sold in 1..75 litre bottles, and before long we were sitting around the kitchen table imbibing the first of many bottles of this poison. Sara has been keeping a collection of the empty bottles. She will photograph this obscene assortment of hollow receptacles in order, no doubt, to remind herself when she reaches old age and senility, of the profound cultural and human experiences she took with her from this most troubled of regions. Most amusingly, one of the bottles has a written warning etched onto it forbidding the contents from being touched as the bottle was to last Sara between the time of writing and her upcoming birthday. Three more bottles were purchased in that time and the empty threat scrawled upon the glass of that bottle has simply become further evidence of the level of alcoholism necessary to survive as a foreigner in Nablus.

“You’re my shot manager”. She’ll forever regret those words and rightly so. Not only because the very idea of the challenge I was to manage for her proved to be her own undoing but also because, as every bad manager does, I put too much pressure on my charge too early, assuming she had more about her than proved the case. Backtrack. An explanation. Sara turned 21 two days ago. Where I come from this often means you celebrate the tenth anniversary of the first time you got drunk in public but Sara’s homeland likes to wrap their children in cotton wool for a little longer and so she was now of legal drinking age in the United States. Someone, some time before her birthday, had mentioned the fine tradition of attempting to drink 21 shots of liquor in order to mark and celebrate this landmark. Sara had decided to accept the challenge.
So, on the morning of the day itself I awoke, blurry eyed and groggy headed, and made my way, ape-man like as I am always prone to be at any point before midday, to Sara’s sleeping space. I flung open the door to her room(well, as much as it’s possible to fling open a sliding door), wished her a happy birthday and demanded she drink her first shot of the day with me. She willingly agreed, notched the first one up on the scoreboard and professed further willingness to complete the next twenty. It was at this point she uttered that foolish phrase. “You’re my shot manager”.

“I’m your what?”

“My shot manager, you’ll do an excellent job”. Unfortunately for her my management skills, in any situation, are pretty much entirely lacking. It’s not that I don’t take my responsibilities seriously (Well, it kind of is) or that I’m not entirely trustworthy and honest (Again, I’m actually not) it’s more that my unique management style of “leave everything alone and hope it works out for the best” just doesn’t work as some kind of universally applicable formula. I’m sure if I was asked to oversee a smoothly running, profitable business with 100% employee satisfaction and no prospects for economic downturn on the horizon I’d do wonderfully. On the other hand, emergency medicine is probably never going to be for me. I’m pretty sure this laid back style would have qualified me to run FEMA under the last US President. In any case, it’s employment in the management of Sara’s alcohol intake led to near disastrous results. The question “Hey shot manager, should I take another shot?” was nearly always met with a reply in the affirmative. Where such a reply was lacking the closest I got to dissuasion was to offer a “Do whatever you think’s best”. As many of you who know Sara will attest, Sara usually thinks another shot is best.

By half ten in the morning she had done 8 and was assembling the rest of her flatmates around the circular kitchen table in order to indulge in playing card based drinking games. By eleven she had fallen out of her chair and on to the floor. Getting back up was proving an issue. By midday the house had unanimously voted to prevent Sara in her attempts to leave and wander round this dry city in such an inebriated state. (I say unanimously, Sara did actually attempt to vote against the motion but her vote was disqualified on the basis that she was a drunken mess). Now, to me an arrest record is nothing to be ashamed of and Sara’s 21 years without a single handcuffing (I speak only in relation to encounters with law enforcement agents, obviously her side gig as a dominatrix has seen her get very familiar with many pairs of handcuffs) only speaks of a lack of experience to my mind. So in any normal setting I would have been handing her the car keys, topping up her glass and convincing her we needed to go and climb in the with the zebras at the nearest zoo but Nablus isn’t really that kind of place and if I am to be responsible for Sara losing her criminal conviction virginity then even I, with all my relaxed management skills, can recognise that it might be best to secure one somewhere where it’s not to be dealt with by the Palestinian Authority. Eventually she passed out on the sofa somewhere in mid afternoon, committing the cardinal sin of sobering up and spending the second half of her birthday hungover and unable to complete the last seven shots that would have seen her complete the challenge.. She blames her shot manager. Her shot manager was unavailable for comment at the time, shuffling off into the distance and muttering something about “bloody lightweights” under his breath.

Sara’s birthday came and went. And then so did Sara. Deserting us like a litter of unwanted puppies, thrown from the window of a moving car (What? How do you get rid of pets in your country?). She cast us aside and departed last weekend, leaving us with nothing to remember her by except painful memories, scabies and the extortionate future cost of the counselling it will require to deal with our abandonment issues. She’ll undoubtedly go on to great things, a career in law and politics beckons for a woman whose single minded determination and ambition would be almost guaranteed to see her become President were it not for the inherent misogyny of Western political systems and those photos she’ll mistakenly let someone take in a few years on the basis that he’ll “never show them to anyone”. But regardless of where she ends up I’m sure one day, as I search the floor of some mosquito ridden guest house in Amazonian Bolivia for a spare coin that would see me able to eat for the day, I’ll look up at the dusty, antique, black-and-white television in the corner to see Sara’s face as some off screen commentator praises her for doing something genuinely worthwhile, altruistic and significant with her time and efforts. And I’ll cough roughly, spit out a load of tar stained mucus onto the dusty wooden floor and announce to no one in particular: “I’m her shot manager”.


“Habbibi! Habbibi! Habbibi!” She calls as she runs up and kisses me on both cheeks.  “Ms. Sara, Arabic?” She asks if she can speak in Arabic.

“Ah” I respond. And then I am swept into my daily Arabic practice, and myupdate on 10-year-old drama.

The large metal gate at the entrance of the school

The large metal gate at the entrance of the school

Every day I arrive at the gate to our school to unlock the door around 2:15, and everyday there are already 2 or 3 young girls anxiously waiting for our cheek-kiss greeting and to be let through the schools massive metal gate.

Aiashia, the school we teach at (Whose name has about every vowel sound in the Arabic language making it a foreigner’s nightmare to pronounce) has a tall wall of about 30 feet surrounding it on all sides, with equally extravagant flowering trees lining the wall, which provides an excellent haven concealed from the busy streets, a secret garden if you will, where these lovely ladies can safely be themselves without the fear of an unwanted male stare or judging elder.

Aside from the male security guard and our bosses, no men are permitted within the school grounds. The basketball court is at the center of a courtyard. The actual building is a horseshoe shape with about 2 dozen classrooms emptying out directly into the cement courtyard.

As students filter in they bounce between my classroom and Ms. Amy’s giggling about their day, listening to the music, and emptying their ever inquisitive minds of whatever questions they had stored for us through the day. The classrooms are hallow, and echo loudly. The desks sit two people, and each day, I drag them from their traditional rows to a dining room table esque form, only to drag them back to their original place at the end of the day. The drawings on the desk testify to what my students nag about every day. “School is boring.” I laugh. Some things are the same even on the other side of an ocean in the middle of an occupation.

To give you a general idea

a of how our classes are run I will give you a few examples of my favorite activities we have done.

1. The restaurant- Amy and I quickly learned that food and learning should go hand in hand. My class received a nicely written invitation to the Princess Restaurant, and the next day the two classes gathered to find a classroom that had been magically turned into a restaurant with common desks transformed into the most classy tables with the addition of vases of wild flowers, and only the freshest and most classy food in town (Strawberries, humus, and cookies!). The girls were the waitresses, the hostesses, and of course the hungry patrons!

2. Songs!- We are encouraged to use songs as a way of increasing our girls speaking speed, so this semester my girls started off with “I am Woman” then went to “Hold On” by B*Witched and are finishing off with “Firework” by Katy Perry. I tried to stick with motivating songs. I was so proud yesterday when I gave each person in the class a solo, and each girl had the confidence to sing by themselves. I think it attests to the safe zone that Amy and I have worked so hard to create at the school. The girls at Aiashia have really become a family, and to me, that’s more valuable than any strides they have made in mastering the English language.

3. Sports- After each class we run about 30 minutes of sports. This has typically taken the form of basketball since some brilliant architect placed the basketball hoops directly in front of the soccer goals. Some days we have played hide and seek, in which, the full circle around the large building turns each round into a high-speed chase of who can sprint in a circle faster than the person who is it. A few days I have taught the girls some Taekwondo and self-defense which went over really well.

4. Plays- Amy and I both enjoyed doing dialogs with our girls. Mine did two Dr. Seuss scripts, the Lorax and Yertle the Turtle, though Amy takes the cake on this endeavor. Her girls did the Three Billy Goats Gruff. This included desks being made into a bridge that the goats could walk across and the troll could hide under, teaching ten-year olds to charge with their fingers in the shape of goat horns, and of course a lot of “Trippity, trap, trippity, trap!” I proudly made my guest appearance as the Big Billy Goat, but was out acted by the well mastered Troll voice of little Tala.

The program has no specific curriculum which has allowed me to mold my class as I see fit. This has eased my concerns a bit about being a language imperialist simply spreading my language to these kids who meanwhile have bigger problems, thanks in large part to financial contributions to their occupying force from my government. As you can see, I still think about it a lot, but I am proud to say that I believe my classroom has become a place of joint learning and mutual growth between all the students and myself as well.

I have 3 more days of teaching and then I think I am done teaching ESL forever, but I hope to stay in touch with these lovely ladies who will never know the extent to which they have helped me.

Until it Falls

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Al Khuds/ Jerusalem in Pictures


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Karoof Shatan and Eid Travels

Hello all and Eid Mubarak!

I am writing now from the Palestinian Authorities exit point on the Malik Hussein Border (known as Allenby in Israel) returning to Amman after a 10 day adventure in Palestine (11/11-11/20/2010) How I got to this point is a long story, so I figure I better start writing now before I get swamped down with school work upon my return. I left for the border this morning at 7:00 am and when I arrived I was given number 1460 and they were calling number 800. Now they are at 1000, so I could be here a while.

The Palestinian Authority departure building on the border and where I am now. In front you can see the counter that we are waiting to be called up to. Then, they will check our passports and send us on to the Israeli building in a bus.

This week was the Eid Al-Adha (عيد الأضحى) in the Arab world. There are two major holidays in the Muslim religion. The first, Eid Al-Futr ((عيد الفطر follows the Ramadan fasting month and took place very shortly after I had arrived. The Eid that took place over this last week is when Muslims sacrifice a lamb to honor  the sacrafice made by Ibrahim who was told by Allah to sacrifice his eldest son Ishmael. At the last-minute, Allah brought a lamb for sacrifice instead, allowing Ibrahim to keep his first son.

The spirit of the holidays is only comparable to, maybe, Christmas, but the community aspect of the events is unmatched by any holiday in the states. The night before Eid I had the privilege of being in 3 major cities in the West Bank. First we were in Al-Khelil (الخليل) known more famously by its Hebrew name, Hebron. Then we were in Ramallah (رام الله) for a short time before returning to Nablus( نابلس) . In each city we found the streets swarmed with thousands of people. The anticipation and excitement swelling from the crowd was inspiring. I was completely overwhelmed by the sound of loud music, honking horns, and energized chatter. It was impossible to move at times! Children were running around eating candy while their mothers rushed to get the last ingredients for the family’s Eid meal. Teenage boys were hanging out with their friends in large groups. Balloons filled the sky above the heads of the rambunctious mob in each new place we found ourselves.

This is the Lamb that I bought over the Eid. Check out those eyes!

The shops at this time sell stuffed animal lambs in honor of the Eid. Of course, I had to get one. My lamb makes a sadistically MMMMMMAAAAAAAAAAA sound whenever it is touched (and sometimes when it is not touched which is creepy). Its eyes light up a bright green. I named it, appropriately Karoof Shaitan, (خروف الشيطان) or Devil Sheep in English.

Now we are at 1100- It’s a good thing they are calling 100 people at a time. I am quite excited though, I got a large bag of gummy worms at the small shop on the border! Because gummy candies typically have gelatin, it is very hard to find gummy worms in Jordan. These are processed in Turkey and have Beef Gelatin.

Getting to Al-Kuds (Jerusalem)

We arrived in Jerusalem at 11:30 pm. We had taken a bus from the border, at which I was not exempted from my usual fun. (My first trip across the border) However, I would like to believe I am getting smarter. We arrived at the border only a few hours before it closed. Then, Israel shut the border down for about 2 hours, so we spent our time talking with the Jordanian tourist police in their office, who were more than hospitable and insisted that we wait for the border to open in their office and continued to bring us tea. “I insist, sit here. I will send someone to check on when the bus is coming… I insist, have a drink….” Etc. By the time we arrived at the Israeli side, the border was about to close and they didn’t have long to interrogate me. Kirsten went up to the counter first. I figured there was no need for her to be hassled because she was traveling with me. After giving our Hostel’s address, a return date, and answering a snarky inquiry after she had requested to not have her passport stamped (“I can stamp a separate paper, but why?” the soldier asked with a sassy attitude that only an 18-year-old child can muster.) Kirsten was let through. My trip to the counter included the same exact questions, with the same exact answers, but ended with a “You are going to have to sit down and wait. Fill this out.” She handed me a sheet (my favorite souvenir from the trip) that required me to write the answers to all the questions I had grown accustomed to answering in person. Name, father’s name, place of birth, countries visited, etc. However, by the time I had filled out the paper, the border was closed, and the guard returned with my passport with a stamp on a separate paper. After 3 trips in and out my passport is still clean of any evidence that I had ever entered into the lands of the occupier or the occupied.

1200- Getting closer. Though after we leave this building we will likely spend hours on a bus…

After we were let in, we took a bus to Jerusalem, and arrived at our hostel at about 12:00 am. We spent the next 3 days in Jerusalem, and then Kirsten and I went our separate way. She boarded a service that took her back to the border, and I continued on to Nablus, via a bus to Ramallah. In Ramallah I found a Service Taxi going to Nablus. I arrived in Nablus at 1:00 pm. X and all his coworkers were still in school, so I set all my stuff in front of the gate leading to his house, unsure of how I was going to get through so I didn’t have to spend the next few hours sitting on the street. I ended up jumping the wall and then opening the gate from the inside to bring my stuff in.

The next day we went to Hebron and Ramallah. After that we decided to take an overnight trip to Al-Kuds (Jerusalem). I plan to write about each of these in separate posts so I can include enough information and pictures.

1300- Moving faster, I probably should put my computer away now. More soon!


Note: After we were let passed this point, we were put on the last bus across the border and the rest of my crossing went quickly and without problems.

Pictures of Nablus

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“What’s your religion?” and other fun questions en route to Nablus.

Weeks before I left my boyfriend got a job teaching English at a school in Nablus. Of course, I was super excited because this meant I would be 110 kilometers (68 miles) away from him all semester. Of course, what would be an hour drive down I-25, turned into a 9 hour trip, leading me to wonder if it would have been possible to put a more difficult 70 miles between us.

I left to go visit him after my class ended at 4 on Thursday. It was the day before Yom Kippur would begin, so I had been extremely careful in planning my travels so I could make it into the West Bank before the checkpoints would be closed, and would be able to leave and get back for my classes on Monday. My program helped me arrange a taxi to the Sheik Hussein border (known as the Jordan River border in Israel). The taxi passed through Irbid, and some beautiful hilly valleys before it approached the crossing. Once dropped off at the gate, I entered Jordan’s side of the border. I smiled at the man behind the counter, kindly asked if he would put my stamp on a separate paper. He happily accommodated my request, and sent me on my way. From there I got on a bus that would take me over to the building that I would come to know a little too well.

I must stop myself for a second and let you know about the plans I had made before hand. First, I had not brought my Libyan passport after this was strongly suggested by several people in my program. I had also could not tell the IDF my boyfriend is teaching in the West Bank, so I created a slightly not so true alternative to why I am entering Palestine.

There are two sections of the Israeli side of the Sheik Hussein Border crossing. The first is security and the second passport control. It is my understanding that security is not operated by the IDF. The security guards did not wear the uniform, and one man told me operated separate from the Passport control. So, I get in the security line, which should be as simple as showing your passport and scanning your bags. No other people were asked questions or anything. As soon as the security guard saw my name, she asked, the first in what would be hours of stupid questions,

“Do you have another passport?” DAMN! They are good. Fitouri doesn’t even look Arab when written in English, at least not to me. Perhaps she is taught to question all foreign names? I don’t know.


“What is your reason of travel into Israel?”


With that she let me continue through to the tigers at Passport control.

Tiger is not a fair assessment at all, really. Passport control is run almost entirely by 18-22 year old girls. With made up faces and flowing hair, they are quite possibly some of the most beautiful girls I have seen. Perhaps they are more like poisonous frogs, like the ones you see at the zoo that are bright colored yet deadly. I handed my passport to the girl at the window. All was going well for about a minute and a half. She asked several procedural questions and accepted my responses without hesitation. I thought I would try my luck,

“Do you mind, I’m a student and I still have a bit of traveling to do. Would you stamp my passport on a separate piece of paper?”

She acknowledged my request and continued with the questions. And then came the bombshell…

“What is your father’s name?”

Ok, so it is easy to lie about your travel plans, you’re major, etc. But at this point I was faced with a dilemma, deny my Arab heritage and have an easier time passing through, or tell the truth, and risk a long delay or possibly being turned back. I couldn’t lie on this one, because in the back of my mind I kept thinking, I shouldn’t have to lie.



“What is your Grandfather’s name?”

Shit. Already chose to say the truth, right?


The young girls face looked as if I had screamed curse words at her. She said something to one of the girls at the other window, and then sent me down to her.

That is when the real interrogation began. This time, my answers were not accepted and each time I answered, the truth or not, it only lead to deeper questions.

“Where are you traveling in Israel?”

“I’m meeting my boyfriend, tonight in Nablus, and tomorrow we are going to Jerusalem?”

“What are you going to do in Nablus?”

“See the holy sites”

“Where are you staying?, Who are you staying with?, How long will you be there?, What are their names? Why were you in Jordan? Where was your father born? Where were you born? What state? What city?

The questions went in circles, finally she passed me a paper and told me to write down my name and phone number. I put my US home number and my Jordanian cell.

She continued the questions in the sweetest voice you have ever heard, which made me want to vomit.

“Why do you have a cell phone in Jordan” (Didn’t you know, statistics show that 7 out of 10 “terrorists” possess Jordanian cellphones.)

“Because my program provided me with one”

“What program?”

I could already see where this was going. Arabic


“What are you studying in Jordan?”

What do you think, woman?

“Jordanian Culture, Politics, and Arabic.”

“Oh, you speak Arabic?”

“Very little, I just started studying it.”

And by just started I mean I went to a Muslim Sunday school where I learned the letters, have spent months in Libya (which you don’t know about because you won’t get to see my Libyan passport), have taken 2 full years at my University, and helped create the Arabic Club at my school.

After what seemed like an hour of this badgering I was told to sit down and wait. I sat down next to two American girls. After talking I learned that they went to Berkley and in their hippy ways had failed to make any concrete plans about their trip, during which they planned to spend 2 months couch surfing throughout Israel. When I sat down they had already been there for 6 hours.

Over the next several hours I sat waiting. Every now and then one of the girls would peak their head out the door and ask me another question, usually one that they had already asked. I arrived at the border at 5:30 Israel time. At about 8:30 I began to panic. I had been warned that the checkpoints into the West Bank would be closing, and no one was sure what time exactly. A call from my boyfriend sent me to tears when he suggested I turned back because I probably wouldn’t make it into the West Bank. By this time the Border was almost completely empty. The IDF soldiers were sitting around laughing and playing with each other while drinking coffee and pop, and I was sitting alone in tears. One of the girls, who I am very indebted to came over and started talking to me.

“You are a young pretty girl, you are supposed to be happy, not sad”

I explained to her my situation, and she assured me that people were often held for several hours, but they were always let in. She also seemed shocked when I said that the checkpoints would be closing because of Yom Kippur.

“But the Arabs do not fast on Yom Kippur and they need to get out, so why would it be closed?”

Because your country has oppressed the Palestinians to the point where they have resorted to acts of desperation that makes your government concerned for security reasons.

She began to mobilize making phone calls and talking to the other guards to find out about the checkpoints. She did discover that the checkpoint I had planned to pass through was closed, but there was another check point that was going to be open all night that was a little ways away. One of the soldiers escorted me so I could go to the place to exchange money. Another wrote out directions for a cab driver in both Hebrew and English. Then the final run of questioning hit.

This scrawny little girl, who had been the meanest so far, yelled to me where I sat from 15 or 20 feet away.

“Why does your boyfriend have a cell phone here?”

Reassured that I would be let through by the other soldier, and by the fact they had been helping me, my answers became bolder.

“Because in American currency it was dirt cheap and he wanted to be able to call me for cheaper.”

That’s what happens when your economy is entirely dependent on mine.

“What is your religion?”

The room got quiet. All the girls who had been helping me stared at their comrade. One girl said something in Hebrew that sounded like a protest to the question.

“I don’t have a religion.”

“You know, Christian, or Muslim….”

Yes, because there are only 2 religions in this world.

“My father is Muslim, and my mother was raised Christian if that answers your question.”

“What is your boyfriend’s religion?”

I get at this point that she doesn’t give a fuck what we actually believe, but wants to know how we were raised.

“He comes from a Christian family.”

In the Middle East not having a religion isn’t really an option.

She retracted back into the office, and within a half an hour of the border crossing I was presented with my passport and a stamp on a separate paper allowing me to enter the Zionist country, and the occupied Arab lands. My posse of new found friends had at this point arranged for me a taxi that would take me all the way to Nablus for the steep price of 600 Shekels ($162.00). I negotiated this down to 550 Shekels ($148.00), but the cab driver refused to go lower because it was after 10:30 at this point and it was risky to cross into the West Bank. This taxi driver was Israeli, and because of this was not permitted to take me into Palestine. He passed me off to a Palestinian driver who took me the rest of the way into Nablus. I arrived in Nablus at 12:00 am, approximately 9 hours after my journey had begun.

Reflecting over this trip I found 2 specific points very interesting.

1-      Because in general, Israelis cannot enter the West Bank and Palestinians cannot travel out of the West Bank easily, information does not travel between the two populations. This allowed the Israeli population to have access to the actual hours of the checkpoints, while everyone in the West Bank had been told and believed that all the checkpoints would be closed.

2-      I found it interesting that while the Israeli Government/ IDF were keeping me from entering the country; it was IDF soldiers that were reassuring me and helping me make plans and arranging taxis for me. This was a reminder that in any country where military service is mandatory, there are going to be soldiers who aren’t dedicated to the actions of their government.

Once in Nablus the trip was really enjoyable. The city is very depressing. I learned that Nablus had been destroyed during the second intifada and up until recently still experienced nightly raids. The population had been forced to live their lives in fear. The physical structures had clearly been through war, and writings and drawings on almost every wall were a reminder of the pain this city had been through, or rather, is going through. I have spent years researching the facts, attending and even running protests, arguing with friends, but no matter how much you think you know the conflict, it is impossible to feel the conflict. What I felt when walking down the streets of the old city and seeing pictures of martyrs on the walls was only a taste of the feeling that is occupation. A feeling that every kid on the street was born into and lives with everyday. I repeat the mantra echoed through the Zionist organizations prior to the creation of the state of Israel. Visit Palestine. If you are in the region, visit. If you aren’t, go someday. Because there is nothing you can read, research, hear, that will teach you how it feels to be in the occupied lands.

I departed from Palestine Sunday morning. I took a service to Jenin, and then do to a miscommunication that I still can’t figure out, I ended up on a second Service that took me to the Malik Hussein (Allenby Bridge) border crossing. This meant going from Jenin, back through Nablus to Jericho to the Border. Woops! This apparent curse, turned out to be a blessing. Foreigners are only supposed to travel through the Sheik Hussein border because that is where they issue Visas. My visa, still good for 3 more days, allowed me to cross through the Malik Hussein border, an experience few foreigners have. This Border is used almost exclusively by Palestinians, and the condition was reflective of the degree Israel respects its neighbors.  I quickly passed through the Palestinian Authorities side of the border. The next stop was the Israeli point. We were herded onto large busses with about 50 people. The bus drove up to a gait and parked behind a line of five identical busses. Lucky to be sitting next to a Palestinian woman who had been born in the United States, she explained that the IDF only let through one bus every 15 minutes, or at least it was supposed to be 15 minutes. In reality it was much more inconsistent than that. It was about 2 hours before our bus was let through. At that point there were 8 busses lined up behind us. The bus was hot, crowded and had no air-conditioning. Who knows how long the people in the last bus waited for? That bus took me to another building that was dirty and full of booths to check passports. The IDF agents were unhelpful and stern. Then one told me to go to another desk because I had an American passport. That desk took me to a different room for foreigners. This one was clean and empty. After paying a ridiculous exit fee of 167 Shekels ($45.00), I was let through with no problem. I waited about 1 hour for a bus, which took me to the Jordan entrance.  Entering Jordan was Hassle free, and I shared a taxi back to Amman with three other people making the cost only 8 JD ($11.00).

                It was more than worth it to go to Palestine, but the shit they make you go through to get there is, well, Shit. I have never felt more devalued and humiliated than I did entering the country, and all they did was ask me a bunch of questions and made me sit in a room for several hours. The occupation has destroyed the lives of MILLIONS of Palestinians. Whether it is by forcing them to leave their homelands and seek refuge in surrounding cities such as Amman, or by depriving them of fundamental rights and destroying their towns.

I have included a lot in this post, but if there is anything else you want to know, or would like me to elaborate on something, please post a comment and I will be happy to respond.

 ألحرية لفلسطين

 Freedom To Palestine