Monday, May 28, 2007

Beyond the Wall

The following series of posts are based on a tour I took of the security fence with Yavneh Olami. The original intent was to hear the army's explanation of how the fence works, and then to spend a second day visiting some settlements outside the fence to see what effects it has on life beyond. Unfortunately, due to "security concerns," the army had to cancel our tour, but we were still able to do the settlements portion anyway.

I woke up early and schlepped all the way downtown to meet the group. Of course, the bus was late. We ended up going back through the supercheckpoint in my very own Pisgat Ze'ev. D'oh! If I had known we were coming back this way, I could have slept in and hitched from here.

Look to the right and you'll see my very own Pisgat Ze'ev. Turn our head 90 degrees forwared and you'll see the Hizma supercheckpoint (which I've shown many times before on this blog.)

Just as the alabaster columns and Roman-style domes of Washington D.C. architecture are designed to impress upon the viewer the grandeur and power of the United States, and as the space needle pricking the Seattle skyline projects a optomistic, upward-looking, future-thinking mindset, so the drab concrete panels and bullet-shielded pillboxes of the security wall make their own statement. This is to be the dividing line between Israel and the Arabs, between civilization and barbarism. You don't erect forty-foot concrete walls unless you're worried about King Kong lurking on the other side.

Exiting the gate is the last stop for hitchhikers.

We pick up our own hitchhiker, Yishai Fleisher of Israel National Radio, who will be guiding the tour. And here is his ear.

"One thing to understand about region is how the whole face of the middle east is rearranged in a day, and then it's like it's been that way forever." It's critical to understand, myself remembering my time here back five years ago, when building a massive wall like this would have been politically impossible.

An interesting shot. Ahead of us, the wall. In the rear view mirror, soldiers checking vehicles.

The turmoil and heat of war, in this case the Second Intifadah, has a way of making events, concepts, and ideals fluid. What was impossible yesterday becomes critical today, and driving along a wall that was unthinkable half a decade ago is now like second nature. The same logic of fluidity through warfare applies to Israel's capture of the region in 1967, the settlement enterprise, the Palestinian Authority's successful ethnic cleansing campaign against the Arab Christians of Judea and Samaria over the last five years, and more.

Up next: The Origins of the Ramalla Bypass Road

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