Every nation has some special contribution to the great richness of Humanity’s cultural tradition. These special experiences are many times summoned by a local word that becomes internationalized. Like the Palestinians gave the word the word Intifada, Israel gave us Makhsom (AKA Machsom). In Palestinian Arabic this Hebrew word is so integrated that it has its Arab plural forms of “Makhsomat” or “Makhasim”.
The story of the Makhsom – the Israeli Army Check Point – is a long one, many times tantalizing or even tragic. A whole nation spends it best and worse hours waiting in the Makhsom – to go to work, to see a doctor, to go to the hospital or to school, to see friends and family – or to be arrested, humiliated or go back bare handed after hours of waiting – or be shot at. Many of my Palestinian friends says their greatest dream, besides to be free, is to be allowed to see the sea, just a few miles away.
So, forgive me if my own small Makhsom story is not so dramatic, even an anti-climax.
It was at the time of the second (“Al Aqsa”) Intifada. We published a journal called “Al-Jeel Al-Jadeed” and we used to print it in Tul Karem, where everything is much cheaper. You know, everybody is working so hard on the each new issue, and you just wait for it to come fresh from the prints.
But the days were tense with some military activities on both sides and the West Bank was all but sealed by the Makhasim. The JJ people requested me to go to bring the journals from the printing press.
West Bank people had a lot of experience how to go around the Swiss cheese geography. The printer explained me how I can get to some village near Tul Karem to get the newly printed journals without being stopped or arouse too much attention. But on the way back I had no other alternative but to go straight into some Makhsom and try my chance.
It was a rural Makhsom and there was a very long queue… In fact, West Bank people knew they have no chance to cross any Makhsom by that day, so the long queue was composed of three cars of Arab with Israeli citizenship that were stuck in front of me. It took more than an hour for the soldiers to search them and let them go.
The last car just in front of me had some boxes with vegetables. The soldiers instructed the old driver to put everything off the car on the ground, even the spare tire and some tools, before they searched the car. The way they searched it before my eyes I was surprised they didn’t tear down the car’s seats.
I didn’t know what I feared more: having to load down the heavy journals packets that filled my mini-van or the response of the soldiers when they will see their contents – all full with pictures of demonstrations with Palestinian flags and patriotic articles, children’s paintings and all that stuff.
When my turn finally came I moved with the car into the checkpoint. The soldier looked at me from the car’s window. Looking at my face he decided that I’m a Jew and simply said: You shouldn’t have waited in this queue.
When God in his sky will decide to bring justice to Palestine and judge everyone for their sins, one small thing he should blame the Zionists for, is causing me at this moment to be happy to see Apartheid in the working.