Tuesday, May 20, 2008


My friends N. and L. are visiting here at the moment. They went to Ramallah yesterday, and coming back to Jerusalem, they had to go through the checkpoint. What she described in her email is the sort of experiences of which I am generally exempt because of my master-race Israeli passport:

Unfuckingbelievable experience at the Ramallah checkpoint into Jerusalem...I know it's nothing you don't know already but honestly, these checkpoints, they're like cattle-processing sheds. I had been determined all along not to get all sentimental and righteous and Guardian-reader about it, but really, it is totally dehumanising and humiliating, the whole set up.

And then we heard the way one of the guards was talking to this young mum with a baby, you didn't have to understand Hebrew to know that he was being really rude and aggressive, everyone in the queue was looking at each other, but in a pretty resigned way. Then the turnstile goes and some people go through (nice touch that you don't know if it's going to let you through or not - it just seems to stop randomly).

I go through, Luke's left behind. As soon as I came to the window and saw the guards, I knew they were off their tits. Two of them, one behind each window. I show my passport to one, he points to the other window. I go to the other window and show my passport, he points to the other window. They do this to me a couple of times, giggling the whole time in that really stoned way. Pretty humiliating.

Then one of them (the nastier looking one who was rude to the young mum), who is almost slipping off his chair he is so fucked, asks if I'm from Thailand. WTF? I tell him, no I'm English. He starts getting aggressive with me. You kind of expect rudeness or arrogance from officials in this kind of situation, at least, it's not so surprising when they act like cocks, but this was a bit frightening cos he was obviously not in his right mind - a second ago, he'd been laughing, now he's getting really agressive, and there's a gun there, I'm not used to seeing guns.

He starts shouting at me for my visa and I tell him I don't need one, I'm British. He's going on about a visa so then I realise what he means and I show him the stamp in my passport. Then he relaxes a bit and starts telling me I look Japanese.??? I only realised afterwards: you know when we came towards you at the airport, and you said you could really see the Chinese in me? Well I think he was so stoned, or tripping, that he could *really* see the Chinese (or Thai..or Japanese..) in me and it was freaking him out or something. Finally, he let me go.

(N's family comes from a mixed Asian background but you would have to be stoned and ignorant to think she is either Thai or Japanese)


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