Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Checkpoint and The Separation Barrier

After living in Palestine for the last seven months, there are plenty of facets of this conflict that I am capable of explaining. I can talk about curfews, electricity cuts, water shortages, sanitation issues, demonstrations, Israeli attack dogs being used on Palestinian civilians (ohhhhh yeah, that post is coming soon), constantly being surrounded by soldiers, economic deterioration, harassment, bombing, the apartheid system of having different social structures for Israelis than for Palestinians (different courts, different roads, different laws, etc.), the dangers of normalization, and plenty of other things in a way that someone who has never been here can understand. Unfortunately, there are also things that I just cannot begin to articulate. There are parts of life here that unless you see for yourself, you would never believe, and could not begin to understand. Two of those things are the checkpoints and the separation barrier (or as many Palestinians refer to it: "the apartheid wall").

Now, if you go back through my blog posts, you'll definitely see me reference these things, but you may notice that I have never gone in-depth and tried to explain them. The reason being that it's simply not possible. I cannot possibly come up with language strong enough to express the way in which the hundreds of checkpoints and this wall, more than twice the height and four times the length of the Berlin Wall, negatively affect the life of each and every person living in the West Bank, and it feels hollow for me to even try. Nothing I can say would adequately explain the realities... you need to see it for yourself.

Since it's obviously not possible for everyone to hop on a plane and see the conflict first hand, Porter Speakman, an incredible filmmaker from the US who has spent a lot of time in Israel/Palestine and is the Media Director for the Christ at the Checkpoint Conferences, has made two short (5 minute-ish) films to help people grasp the realities of both the checkpoint and the apartheid wall. I watched them both today, and let me tell you, they are the best summarizations that I have seen so far. I highly recommend that you take the next ten minutes and watch these two short films. I promise that it will go a long way toward helping you understand these two very confusing concepts.

(If you click play and it tells you that you need some sort of flash player that you don't have, just click on the link in the title of the film directly below the video to go to the Vimeo site where it'll play without having to download anything.)

The Checkpoint from Christ at the Checkpoint on Vimeo.
"Traveling from one end of the West Bank to the other, a distance of perhaps 80 miles, takes me as an Israeli an hour and a half or two hours in a car and takes a Palestinian - because on some of the roads I go he can't go, some of the checkpoints I pass he can't pass through - it would take him a day."

The Separation Barrier from Christ at the Checkpoint on Vimeo.

For more detailed information about the barrier, I recommend reading Is it a Fence? Is it a Wall? No, it’s a Separation Barrier and B'Tselem (The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories)'s Separation Barrier Explanation.

Life changing, right?

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