I came back from Al-Aroub Refugee camp (more on that later) and it has been a long day. I didn’t go straight back to the apartment in Tel Rumeida though. I went through the Old City and the markets again, out of the checkpoint turnstiles on the other side, turning right so I was walking away from Ibrahimi Mosque and directly onto H2’s Shuhada street. It is dotted with checkpoints, including Checkpoint 55, with a huge military base situated somewhere in the middle. I could do an entire post about Shuhada street, but that’s for later.
Let’s say, Shuhada street goes on for about 1,000 meters (okay, well it is probably much more but I don’t know exactly). Between one checkpoint situated close to Ibrahimi Mosque and the Old City’s markets on one side, and Checkpoint 55 on the other, no Palestinian access is permitted at all. It is only for the settlers. And it is this area that includes the military base and the settlements. This part of the street is perhaps around 700 meters long, with the odd soldier and settler strolling by. Or patrolling.
Walking along, I was approaching Checkpoint 55. I could have been asked to show my ID, or maybe not. A settler was dropped off from his friend as he stopped the car and got out. I don’t understand Hebrew, but he gestured and called out to the soldier occupying the booth of Checkpoint 55. Turns out he took issue with me.
The headmistress of Cordoba School pointed out I looked Arab to her. Ah, that’s swell! I love it whenever I people mistake my ethnicity/background. This settler perhaps thought something similar. Not only that, I was wearing a keffiyeh. Given the type of treatment you would receive from the soldiers and settlers for wearing any Palestine-related articles such as a keffiyeh, you could have been wearing a “kick me” sign instead. Luckily, I was only stopped and questioned by the soldier at Checkpoint 55.
So the soldier stops me first, with an “excuse me” and asks where I’m from. “The UK” was my reply. He points to my chest and neck, asking why as I wearing a keffiyeh? “Because I find it cold” (yeah right, it was hotter than I last remember). He didn’t tell me that this was a no-go area for the local Palestinians. He put it more nicely than that. “You should not be wearing this, people here would think you are an Arab.”
Well, if, as it is claimed, that Israel is the only Democracy in the Middle East, then I should be able to express my Arabness wherever I please.
What the fuck is his problem?