Not an occupation? Whatever it is, it’s disgusting
Lisa Goldman, +972 Magazine, Jul 1 2016
Black-clad mounted Border Police galloping into and nearly trampling a crowd of unarmed civilians, old men and women lucky enough to meet the army’s criteria to pray in Jerusalem mutely line up to pass through what look like cattle lanes. Notes on one scene of ugliness and occupation. Today, on the last Friday of Ramadan, thousands of Palestinians who live on the ‘wrong’ side of Israel’s West Bank barrier queued up at Qalandiya Checkpoint near Jerusalem, waiting for hours under the relentless Levantine sun, in temperatures that soared above 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) for an opportunity to attend Friday noon prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Activestills, the cooperative of photojournalists that works in partnership with +972 and Local Call, its Hebrew sister publication, filmed the video above. These are scenes that I have witnessed many times in real life. And I have seen more videos and still photos of similar scenes than I care to count. I’ve reached a point of avoiding these videos, but for some reason I clicked on this one. And all I could feel while watching it was disgust and despair. Because what’s going on here is disgusting. There’s no other word but disgust. Oh, and revulsion. Black-clad mounted Border Police galloping into and nearly trampling a crowd of unarmed civilians carrying plastic bags and identity cards. They look like Middle Eastern Cossacks galloping past cowering Jews in an early twentieth century Russian shtetl, except they’re not carrying torches. Arabic-speaking security forces standing on a hill and barking orders through a loudspeaker as they toss stun grenades and shoot tear gas at people who shuffle like sheep past soldiers who insult them and assault them. Old men and women lucky enough to meet the army’s criteria to pray in Jerusalem mutely line up to pass through what look like cattle lanes at an abattoir, or worse. Everything in this video is ugly and hopeless and disgusting, from the indifferent or angry soldiers to the hopeless shuffling civilians to the physical wasteland of watchtowers, concrete, garbage, filth and despair that is Qalandiya. It is this grinding despair and the indifference it engenders that makes me feel as though there’s almost no point in bringing the attention of readers to this video. There are hundreds like it, stretching back over years and years. Literally. But the people who care don’t have the power to effect change, while the people who do have the power to effect change just don’t give a shit. And everyone else is fixated on the incomparably greater horrors in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. After all, what’s an unending military occupation compared to beheadings, torture, mass rape and millions of refugees and displaced people. Eid mubarak.