A visit to a West Bank settlement, part 2

A few months ago I recorded a discussion with a Palestinian friend who had recently returned from a trip in the West Bank, where he visited an Israeli settlement. Before reading this post, make sure you read part 1, and the disclaimer.

Part II

About the wall. What they did, they said because we want to protect ourselves from suicide bombers, we are going to build a wall around Palestinian territories. And they told the world that it's around the West Bank only, you know, just to protect Israel from suicide bombers.

Apparently, the wall is not only around the West Bank - it's like, they don't like this village, there is a wall circling it all over. It's more like small prisons rather than a single wall identifying one country from another. It's going all the way according to their, you know - it's disconnected. It's not like one single wall.

I was telling you at the beginning about the settlement. So I told him [Asad's cousin], I want to go see a settlement. And he said, yea, I know a settlement next to Ramallah, they sometimes allow Palestinians to go. I said, how come they allow Palestinians to go into this settlement - he said yea, it's good business for them - not any Palestinian, they know that you are going to buy food or clothes or something. Right now it's calm, there isn't much tension, so they might just turn a blind eye and let you in. So I said OK, let's go and check it out.

And he goes, for him, you know -- 'it's the best supermarket you'll ever see in your life, it's out of this world, the supermarket is huge, you can find anything you want'. I mean, it was definitely like a 7-Eleven, or a Tescos or Sainsbury's - but my cousin, you know, compared to the standards they have in the West Bank - for them, it's something out of this world. [Asad's cousin lives in Nablus]

So, anyway, we were stopped outside the settlement - all the other cars are passing, but the soldier at the checkpoint in front of the settlement says 'you come this way'.

My cousin is very cynical, you know; when he speaks, he says everything as a kind of joke or something. So he tells the soldier - 'Why, everybody is passing through here, and you are telling us to stop'. And the guy with the rifle [the IDF soldier] says 'You are Palestinian'. And my cousin says 'But we are the best people!' [Asad laughs at this point] And he asks the soldier 'Why, where are you from?'; by the way, the guy with the rifle was speaking in Arabic. And he says 'I'm Israeli' - so my cousin tells him 'Ah, you are also the best people!' [Asad laughs again].

So the guy smiles, you know, and he told us 'OK, guys, since you are Palestinians, do you have any guns hidden, or rifles, or bombs' - so my cousin looks at him and he tells him 'But you are carrying the gun! It's not me carrying the gun'.

[Asad and the other friends in the room are all laughing] And the whole scenario is just so funny, because of the stereotype you get that we are meant to be trying to attack them, and here's the guy holding a gun and asking us if we have weapons.

So he [the soldier] said 'OK, open the boot of the car'. So we opened the boot, we had a few bottles of arak that I got from the duty free when I arrived in Nablus, and he looks and he goes 'Tsk, Haraam, Haraam - Muhammed, this is Haraam!' [Asad laughs again]. And we told him, 'ah, we are just having fun, and we are going out, for a night out in Ramallah, so we stocked for that'. So he goes, 'OK, good luck, go in'.

So we went into the settlement, and we were trying to park. The settlers, of course, they are all carrying weapons - it's a very nice family, you know, you get to see little girls, kids; each settler has - these guys they make babies much better than the Palestinians, I have to admit that. [Asad laughs]. You see them walking with five-six kids and the dad carrying a big M-16, a nice family.

Of course they can tell from the plate that we are Palestinian, trying to park - nobody's letting you to park. He's coming with the trolley, you know, and his family; he sees that this car, Palestinian car, wants to park, it's like against his religion you know [laughter]. He looks at you and goes 'no, no, you can't - I'm not leaving'. So we stayed there for thirty minutes maybe, and we are trying to find a parking spot.

At that moment, to be honest, I was scared. Because they can easily lock you up, or hit you, and what's gonna happen? At the end of the day, you are nobody. They will fuck you up and say, well, he's in a place that he shouldn't be. So I told him [Asad's cousin], 'man, it's OK, I don't want to see it, let's leave'. And he said ' no, no, don't worry, you'll get used to it'.

So in the end we managed to park and we walked to the supermarket. Because we were late for half an hour the guys [the IDF soldiers at the checkpoint] had already spoken on the walkie talkie to the guys inside the settlement asking if we had showed up, so they were looking around for us; when we showed up they came to us and said hello. Because, anyway, they can't tell by looking at someone's face that they are Palestinian - in the settlement you get people that are Moroccan-looking, Iraqi-looking, British-looking, French-looking, all sorts. So they can't tell that someone is Palestinian just by looking at them.

I'll be posting the final part soon.


  1. YMedad Says:

    This is the second installment where I read how fearful the storyteller is. So far, except for unpleasantries tied up with security search needs and attitudes whihc are understood if not proper, physically all seems to be well. Hope it stays that why.