I finally came back to Palestine after a long and costly trip (in many ways) including today's interrogation by the Israeli Shin Bet (which I am told is "to continue").
I arrived at the Israeli side of the bridge from Jordan before 10:00 AM. I was home after questioning that is not yet complete at 6:30 PM. First they made me wait in the hallway for almost 4 hours (much longer than the wait on the way out). Later there was more waiting and a lengthy questioning. I used the time to chat with others in the waiting area including visiting international delegations. One Christian pilgrimage group was from China and they were especially interested to hear from me as a Palestinian Christian. I also used the time to read a book I bought in Egypt about the Egyptian revolution. When my name was finally called I was escorted to the same intelligence room I am now familiar with. There I am asked to wait again in a corridor. Then they called me and for a thorough new body and personal belonging search. Then I was sent to speak with a guy who was drinking tea with lemon. His first question was 'how are you'. I said I am fine except you guys bother me on the way out and the way in. He said something about me bothering them so they bother me. Shahar (his name) spoke Arabic and we spent about an hour together (last time there was the good cop-bad cop, this time it was just one investigator).
They send him from Bet El (colony near Ramallah) and hence my long wait in the hall. He then proceeded to ask questions about where I have been and what I have been doing. I kept reminding him he could read my public blog as I generally chronicle life regularly and I told him I will be also blogging about today's experience too. I told him I will not have any more information for him than what is in my (already detailed) blog. He asked about the people who have organized the boats to Gaza, I said names are public and on press releases and I will share some of the eyewitness accounts also in my blog (this one; see below for personal testimonies :-). He asked about me and I told him to check my website for details about my background. He said as "a Christian and one who had come back from Egypt" I should see what Muslims are doing to "the Christians" (my mind was analyzing this tribal language of us and them and I understood how he thinks in tribal notions). I tried to educate him about coexistence, history of Christian-Jewish-Muslim relations in the Middle East, and more but he changed the subject.
I did mention a bit about my work on popular resistance (including showing him my latest book). I said I am working on other books and they will have lots of details including about the great International solidarity shown with the Palestinian people (I am hoping they will read and get transformed ;-). Just about every other question I was able to give him a bit of "political information" (about the siege on Gaza, about ethnic cleansing in 1948, about the wall etc.) to which he only had the canned myths he was taught (about violence of 1929 and 1936, partition "accepted" by Zionists, Arab countries wanting to destroy Israel, "terrorism" etc.) When I tried to present him data or evidence to contradict these myths, he would change the subject. After a lengthy interview, he was tired and I was hungry. He then asked that I speak to someone "more knowledgeable" than him (I assumed his superior). I said fine and that is up to them but then I found he was speaking about another meeting in Gush Etzion colony. I said to him "the last time they called me to that place they had me waited for several hours and then just took my phone number; I do not like wasting valuable time." Shahar made a phone call to his superiors. I do not know what they told him but he decided to continue the interrogation.
On the bus from Jordanian to Israeli side, I met a nice elderly lady from Aboud near Ramle who had lost her bus ticket; she was 9 years old when she was ethnically cleansed and now lives in Al-Jalazoun Refugee camp. I recalled this destroyed village as I told Shahar about the 530 Palestinian villages ethnically cleansed in 1948. In the end he and another man told me that this is to be continued and that I am to expect a phone call from a "Captain Suhaib" (I think that is probably not his real name). I sometimes feel sorry for these individuals who are part of this big occupation machine. I wished that they would learn to connect on a human level with people under occupation.
Just a short note about my short trip to Egypt: my timing was bad as most people were out with their families for the holidays but I still managed to talk to the most important people in Egypt: the common people. Taxi drivers, a doctor, police officers, students, a hotel clerk, of varied backgrounds (Christian, Muslim, religious, secular etc.) I learned that there is still a long way to go in Egypt. There is still corruption (even airport police officers who were not shy in asking for tips) and there is still (healthy) political differences. There are 85 million people by no means uniform or agreed on best way forward. But compared to the last time I was in Egypt, I sensed a release of energy and freedom to express, freedom to demonstrate, and freedom to innovate. Many elites who profited are still around and want to somehow profit. Everyone I talked to is hopeful. And of course everyone I talked to wants the siege on Gaza lifted and wants Palestine to be free. One Egyptian told me: Indonesia took 10 years to go from a military dictatorship to a people civil democracy and then it started to prosper. I told him I wish this great country the best as it tries to find its way and hopefully it will not take 10 years.
First contact with Tahrir
Israeli Navy: What is your Final Destination?
Tahrir boat answers (from Ehab Lotayf who is a poet activist and is still being held): The betterment of mankind!
While Israel apartheid Navy pirated ships in International Waters and kidnapped 27 passengers (they are slowly being released), the message across the world is still very clear and confirms the world’s view as expressed by several official UN committees: that collective punishment is illegal. Civil society organizations and people of conscience will continue to push until the illegal and immoral siege/blockade on Gaza is lifted.
The results of a new poll commissioned by the European Commission show that Israel is believed by Europeans in 15 countries to be the greatest threat to world peace, greater than North Korea, Iran or Afghanistan. Zionist establishment reacted with their usual delusional nonsense about anti-Semitism instead of starting to reflect. Now they are pushing for a war on Iran (insane proposition).
(this youtube video is raw footage of the flotilla but it seems the Zionist sabotage it so it does not load much of the time) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxkSBmzUokk
Freedom Wave boats almost sunk, riders beaten, mistreated, deprived of their belongings, and denied access to family. The organizers demand accountability. The accounts from participants contradict the lies of the Israeli government report of peaceful piracy (and that is what it was):
Tears of Gaza: A documentary that explains why so many people care about Gaza
Good Action: Boston occupies the Israeli consulate to protest the piracy of the two ships
Good news: Aid convoy enters Gaza
ACT: Call-Out for Solidarity with Egypt: Defend the Revolution: A letter from Cairo to the Occupy movements & other solidarity movements; Occupy Wall Street & Occupy London respond. International Day to Defend the Egyptian Revolution on Nov 12th under the slogan “Defend the Egyptian Revolution – End Military Trials for Civilians" http://ashraf62.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/call-out-for-solidarity-with-egypt-defend-the-revolution/
WATCH: Israel blasts route of wall near Bethlehem. Residents of Bethlehem awoke to loud blasts Thursday as Israeli construction crews dynamited a planned route of the separation wall through a nearby village ... The construction is for a controversial separation wall cutting off the village of Walaja, which abuts an Israeli settlement outside Bethlehem, from other parts of the occupied West Bank.
Palestinian flags flown over European Women's Football Championship game in which France won over Israel 5-0. Protestors wearing green T-shirt bearing "Free Palestine" in the front and "Boycott Israel" on the back briefly halted the game
Orwellian P.S. The Israeli police claim that there is a decrease in incidents of orthodox Jews spitting on Christian clergy in Jerusalem. Christian clergy state that the phenomenon is still widespread and highly problematical.
Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
Join us in Palestine
in December http://www.palestinejn.org
on March 30 for the Global March to Jerusalem www.globalmarchtojerusalem.org
(autonomous North American GMJ group at www.gmj-na.org)