Re-memoir of occupation: renewing a travel document


Well, thanks to the occupation that insists on persisting its presence not just physically but more of internally … something that feels like acid running every vein.

I had to pay a visit to the Ministry of Interior in Jerusalem today to renew my Travel Document. As some may know, we Jerusalemites do not carry Israeli Passports. Because Jerusalem was occupied under International Law in 1948 and after the 1967 occupation of the city, citizens became under Jordanian jurisdiction (it is quite a situation that needs some explanation). So our status in the city is this way; we carry both Jordanian temporarily passports and Israeli travel documents.

The Travel Document is renewed every two years, and it is something that serves quite as VIP in the Ben Gurion airport. For instance, if you carry this document like me, you don’t have to wait in the line, you are escorted directly to the last destination before the duty-free. Of course, the service includes complete body massage (some people call it body search). I often call it striptease.

When you enter any country with it, they look at you with quite an unusual, unexplained gaze. Sometimes they take you for an exclusive conversation (some people call it interrogation). You know some things like these. But for honesty reasons, it is much better than traveling through the Allenby Bridge (via Jordan). Because on top of all, the Bridge is a proper coordination of de-humiliation (de-humiliation is a concept I invented from the creativity of our situation). To be more honest, I prefer humiliation to de-humiliation. It is ok if most of you will not understand. Such feelings are especially for us, Palestinians.

Anyway, my visit to the ministry of interior.

My daughter and ex-husband were there before, taking a number in advance. My daughter called me as I entered to warn me to be relaxed and ignore anything that happens when I open because they already asked an exception (begging the security guards and the employees inside to let me in). Entering this place is exactly like entering prison. Not that I have ever been to jail, but it is like entering Qalandia checkpoint ( checkpoints, prisons .. kind of interesting entrances ). I cannot bring this closer to people’s imagination, but it is coming through metal gates and going through machine checks and all those details. The security “thing” over there. He could be either one of two things, a former ward in a dog shelter or a real prison. It was just a few moments of interacting with him, and it felt like poison injected into my veins. I started walking with my youngest daughter (who is also applying for a travel document) humming the Palestinian National Anthem and some of the revolutionary Palestinian songs I have seen a lot since the aggression on Gaza. It was helpful.

Luckily the first face I saw later was my ex-husband, so I had an excellent opportunity to master my fury in the right place.

We had two numbers ahead of us. The place was packed with people. After around forty minutes our turn came.

Usually staying with my ex in the same area for forty minutes doesn’t invite good consequences, but this time, magically, we were sharing the same sentiments. He experienced the same dehumanizing feelings from the guards at the entrance, so my daughters. There was this sense of hidden inserted feeling of dehumanizing that somehow we were all digesting, trying to evolve around it secretly each within himself. It wasn’t the place where we can complain; they can just deny us the renewal or anything.One never knows what this place hides for him.

Our turn arrived; the woman was “kind” speaking fluent Arabic who said she wasn’t an Arab. She also spoke fluent Hebrew. That is a perfect place of normalization I guess!! But Arabs are only Arabic speakers over there.

I wouldn’t describe the next hour as horrible; we were laughing sometimes actually. However, that intensity. That systemized approach to ethnically wipe us. I never thought how close it is. I know it was coming theoretically speaking. Watching the Israeli policy for years both from my experience, work and studies, I know how the system works it plans towards what Ilan Pappe called systematic ethnic cleansing. But living it is another thing.

First of all, there is this magnetic ID that in a year will be an obligation that says that we are residents for ten years. Our first residency was permanent residency. Of course, this ID is smart and with a GPS.

When my eldest daughter’s turn arrived, the “beautiful” woman scribbled through her Travel document and asked her why she has often been outside the country. She explained she was studying, and the woman started what turned into an interrogation, which ended up in giving my daughter many knocks on her foot not to talk much. The word residency in another country even if it is a student residence could have many different explanations to a “nice” “Arabic” “Hebrew”-speaking employee who was struggling to make a difference between a visa stamp and a residency. After making some phone calls, asking for what looked like emergency consultations, she declared that my daughter’s ID cannot be renewed until she finishes her studies and comes back to the country and prove that she was studying.

My son needed a paper that says that he doesn’t have an Israeli passport to issue his Jordanian temporarily passport. (Some new procedure the Jordanian side is asking for with the documents) If you are wondering why we need a Jordanian Passport, well it has some benefits. First, when you use it abroad, checking in makes us look more of normal. It says it is a PASSPORT, except for those who understand the difference, they would know the serial number that starts with a T. But this is not the worse situation seriously, it is only problematic when applying to Schengen countries when you realize that you can travel to country 1,2,3,4,5 but not 6,7,8,9,10…but one shouldn’t complain much about such small details. Of course, we can travel to Arab countries such as Dubai with this passport. And the best benefit is, that we don’t need a visa to Turkey. This is one real reason why I like to travel to Turkey or via Turkey. I just feel that I can show the passport with pride.

Going back to the paper we needed for my son. Well, well, well, was the situation. First, they cannot give such a paper. However, if they give a paper that says that he is a resident of Jerusalem and he doesn’t carry an Israeli passport this means that he can never be entitled to an Israeli passport for the rest of his life.

At that instant, I had a glimpse of an image; one day Israel will force the Israeli passports on us, and my daughter and son will be struggling not belonging somewhere. My son, holding this temporary passport of a country that is not his, that will force him to become a refugee in Jordan. My daughter denied her rights in living in Jerusalem because she decided let’s say to stay abroad for some time.

This whole matrix of control, as Jeff Halper calls it, suddenly felt surrounding me like a web. How this system systematically ethnically cleanses us.

How we just enter this place, which is one among many, the national security, Arnona, and the municipality are just a few to mention. Each and every possible mean of getting rid of the people of Jerusalem is just systematically organized and time is not even their limit.

Like a beast waiting for its victim to take the bait. It could wait and hold o n, resting assuredly that time is on its sid.

I went home after a couple of hours, understanding another occasion, while my heart is bleeding with tears on Gaza, amid the news of the savage murder of the four children on the beach in Gaza … That with all the brutality of murder and bombarding, there is this cruelty of hatred that they intentionally inject into us .. that is full of resentfulness and rage accompanied by a continuous feeling of being dehumanized …

I wonder how this could ever be mended …

(Kafkian or Kafkaesque, meaning a menacing situation in which one feels persecuted and paranoid, in which one can see no way out but in which one barely even knows who one’s enemies are, or in which faceless authorities seem to be manipulating one’s life. From the Czech/German author Franz Kafka.)

(On September 26, 1948, Ben Gurion proposed the Israeli provisional government that Israel should attack the West Bank. Again, he had reiterated how a war could be used as an instrument to “transfer” population, and he used Lydda and Ramla’s occupation and the subsequent expulsion of their people as a precedent. According to a detailed plan of the operation recorded in his diary, Israeli forces would take:

“Bethlehem, and Hebron, where there are about a hundred thousand [Palestinian] Arabs. I assume that most of the Arabs of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron would flee, like the [Palestinian] Arabs of Lydda, Jaffa , Tiberias, and Safed and we will control the whole breadth of the country up to the Jordan.” In another entry, he writes: “It is not impossible . . . That we will be able to conquer the way to the Negev, Eilat, and the Dead Sea, and to secure the Negev for ourselves; also to broaden the corridor to Jerusalem, from north to south; to liberate the rest of Jerusalem and to take the Old City; to seize all of central and western Galilee and to expand the borders of the state in all directions” (emphasis added). (Simha Flapan, p. 48 & 1949, The First Israelis, p. 14)

(Matrix of Control : Israel’s “Matrix of Control” is a maze of laws, military orders, planning procedures, limitations on movement, Kafkaesque bureaucracy, settlements and infrastructure – augmented by prolonged and ceaseless low-intensity warfare – that serves to perpetuate the Occupation, to administer it with a minimum of military presence and, ultimately, to conceal it behind massive Israeli “facts on the ground” and a bland façade of “proper administration.” The Matrix resembles the East Asian game of “Go.” Unlike chess, where two opponents try to defeat each other by eliminating one another’s pieces, the aim of Go is to win by immobilizing your opponent, by controlling key points on the matrix. This strategy was used effectively in Vietnam, where small forces of Viet Cong were able to pin down and virtually paralyze half-million American troops possessing overwhelming superior firepower. Israel’s Matrix of Control accomplishes the same with the Palestinians. Maintaining the image of a democratic country only trying to defend its citizens from Arab terror, Israel uses seemingly innocuous and even benevolent policies and procedures to create a matrix of control and repression intended to lower the Occupation’s military profile).


اترك رد