Saturday, November 25, 2006

Notes from Palestine
From a friend now safely home from there, having experienced among some life-changing stuff some marvellous Arab hospitality including wonderful food. And of course there are also remarkable Israelis trying to do good.
• Much of modern Hebrew is taken from Arabic so the languages are remarkably similar. (I’m sure Samer will verify or refute that.)
• The Sharon government actually studied the Botha one to see how to implement apartheid (the official Israeli word is in fact ‘separation’) including the bantustans.
The Wall doesn’t mark the pre-1967 war border but is well within Palestinian territory. (Another friend: ‘Where’s the neon sign saying “Arbeit macht frei”?’)
• The most vociferous supporters of this stuff are not American Jews for the most part but some American evangelicals, some of whom wouldn’t mind if it went to the next level and there were death camps. (As long as it hastens the rapture I reckon.)
• Israeli and Palestinian cars have different-coloured numberplates and only Israeli ones can use the good, most direct roads.
• Palestinian workers and others passing from the Palestinian zone to the Israeli have to go through gates, checkpoints and searches like in prison. This is ostensibly to stop suicide bombers but the bombers of course don’t use these places; there are ways to sneak in. It’s simply a form of harassment and intimidation to keep the Palestinians in their place.
• Haifa, not a tourist spot but simply a working port, is one of the world’s most beautiful cities. There are crumbling houses there though: some Palestinians evicted in 1948 can’t come back but have managed to retain ownership.
• Israeli settlers throw rocks at the Palestinians.

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