*apologies fo the mess that this is.
A few days before my parents flew into Ben Gurion airport we had a final Skype conversation. Best way to get to the hotel from the airport. Where we'd meet. When we'd meet. Airport protocol. What color shirt I wanted my mom to buy me from H&M. The important stuff.
Then I said something along the lines of, "Also, you should know what's been happening the past few weeks." What followed was my version of the events of late February. Repeated Israeli incursions into Al Aqsa Mosque, threats from extremist Jewish groups to "re-claim" the Mosque for the Jews, clashes at the Mosque, clashes in Gaza, clashes at Qalandiya. Khader Adnan's 66 day hunger strike brought to an odd and strange halt when his lawyer made an agreement with the Israelis in which more "secret evidence" could be brought against him at any point as he served the rest of his administrative detention sentence. Clashes at Qalandiya. The death of a young man at Qalandiya - shot in the chest. Sewage water and tear gas sprayed at his funeral procession the next day. Crazy settler march through Hebron, celebrating the massacre of Palestinians at Ibrahimi Mosque in 1994. A Palestinian youth activist brutally arrested in Hebron. Hana Shalabi, re-arrested after being released during the Shalit prisoner swap, embarking on her own hunger strike.
"But don't worry. Come. It's fine. A little tense, but really, no big deal. I know where we can go and not go and when we can go and not go. This stuff happens. Not a big deal."
After we hung up there was a moment - the briefest of moments - in which I thought, "'Not a big deal.' What the hell does did that mean?" But only for a moment. Because my parents were coming. And my sister was coming. And my new shirt from H&M was, most definitely, coming.
And then they arrived and I began...explainingkindof? I told them this and pointed out that and recalled this one time when...
On the way to Nablus: "See that? On the hill? Settlement... Over there...that huuuuge group of houses? Settlement...See over there, where all the houses look exactly the same? Settlement....Oh wait, don't go that way, that's a barrier. Hold on, I think we can go through DCO...wait...can we? Whatever, let's try...Those are tents, but see how they look? They always get demolished...That pipe there, that funnels the water over there to those houses in that settlement....This is the checkpoint where that kid I wrote about that one time got arrested....This is this junction where it's always really tense. Earlier this year this settler threw a rock into a Palestinian car and hit this little kid in the head..."
And walking to the hotel in East Jerusalem: "That house there, the front half was taken by settlers. See that guard?...She that house? Taken by settlers...The Silwan demonstrations are the most violent. Those are on the other side of the Old City..."
And driving by Qalandiya: "This is where my roommate was when this 15 year old kid got shot in the eye with a rubber bullet during a demonstration....that's Khader Adnan's face stenciled on that storefront...this is where the guy was shot last week..." And when I sent my sister through Qalandiya without my company: "It's not as scary as it looks, just go!"
And where I lived in Aida Camp: "That's where the Israeli jeeps roll in at night and they arrest young men....That tower sometimes has soldiers in it who yell at people...These are bullet holes....This is where they camped out when they invaded during the second Intifada..."
And as we walked and as we drove and as we rode: "And there's the Separation Wall....that fence is part of the Separation Wall...See over there? That's the Wall again....Over in the distance you can see the Separation Wall....See here along the highway? That's also the Wall.....See how this starts and stops over there? That's the Separation Wall....See how this wall kind of curves in along this olive tree grove....?"
And in Hebron.
And I got so frustrated when they didn't understand something. When they didn't understand what was East or West Jerusalem. Where the Wall was or how its path twisted and turned and stopped and started. Or why this could happen out in the open, surely there must be something else I wasn't explaining. My poor mother had to deal with so many of my outbursts: "That's it! That's all there is! You're not missing anything, its just what I said!"
And then I heard myself. Talking like tt was all normal. That I understood it at all, or pretended to. But it was good they didn't understand it. Nothing is logical and nothing makes sense and everything deserves to be questioned. Why did I not get that they didn't get....A settlement, a settler, a wall a checkpoint a settler an arrest asettlerasettlementwallrefugeecampdemolishedbedouintentgreenlinesewagewaterteargas wallsettlementsettlercheckpointcheckpointarabichebrewhungerstrikesettlementrefugeecampteargaswallwallwallcheckpointcheckpointcheckpointsoldiereastjerusalemwestjerusaleminvasionjeepsnighttimearrestwallcheckpointwallcheckpointsettlementsettlementsettlementsettlementsettlement.
They were horrified. And I was satisfied. They got it, finally they got it, right? Great! They're on my team now.
Somewhere in the great shuffle of the last year in Palestine I got a little bit used to it all. Oh, well cause I commute through a checkpoint each day. No big deal. I recognize that soldier, he looks like Stevo from Jackass. Or that one who always flirts with the girls on duty. Ma'ale Adummim was a landmark for me. A way for me to realize my parents and I were driving in the wrong direction to Jericho rather than one of the most blatant chunks of stolen land in the West Bank.
Quite nauseating. How did I let myself get even a little bit used to something like...this? That makes me the problem, right? This is not something to get used to. This is something to be constantly shocked and confused by.
So really, this is my inarticulate and messy reminder to myself and my plea to any and all who read this puzzle piece of a blog post: If I'm not making it clear that what's happening here is fucked, or I sound like I think I 'get it'....I'd a appreciate a solid smack.