The Occupation Notebooks: Entry 15: From Nablus to Amman

The last day of our delegation was Thursday, January 23. We spent the morning taking an historical tour with Saed of the Old City of Nablus, the afternoon in Jericho, and the evening crossing the border into Jordan.
 
The Old City of Nablus

One of the most powerful characters of the old city are the written oral histories (pictured above) and memorials done to honor martyrs.


The memorials predominately represent deaths during the Second Intifada, when Israel indiscriminately bombed the city and responded to stone throwing and public demonstrations with gunfire and snipers.

The memorial pictured above (in full and in detail) is one of the few with women included. These women mostly died in their homes protecting their children and elders. In one instance, a family of eight — including children and grandparents — were literally buried alive by a personnel carrier, which ignored their and their neighbor’s screams on their behalf.
 
Jericho Historical Sites
 
In Jericho, we went to the Mount of Temptation and Hisham’s Palace.

I suppose the thing I found the most interesting and disturbing about Jericho was the juxtaposition of Israel’s invented history of itself as an ancient holy land and state with the rampant commercialization of that history and statehood as altogether modern and progressive–as all things not Arab, which it works hard to represent as barbaric and uncivil. Tourists from all over the world run around Jericho collecting Kodak moment family shots and souvenirs, normalizing not only the occupation but the historical narratives about Israel and racist stereotypes of Arabs that uphold it.
 
Border Crossing
 
In the evening, a fellow delegate and I made our way across the border. Unsurprisingly, but exasperatingly, we had a terrible time getting through the border and to our respective hotels in Amman.

On the Palestinian side, before you get to the Israeli border control, we were made to wait for almost an hour on a bus before being allowed to cross through. Then we were directed to go through a metal detector while our bags were scanned. I got held back at the metal detector. They threatened a strip search. Apparently they thought I was wearing the latest in Terrorist Bra fashion and wanted to take a look. I threw a fit and they backed off but only after giving me a lot of grief. (The other five who were stopped were all women).


We then made our way through the passport check but had to wait over an hour for the bus that takes you from Israel to Jordan. By then our luggage was no where to be found so the bus driver, after telling us he expected a tip, took us to some holding cell where we found our luggage and only then to the Jordan side. We eventually got through but by then it was so late that we were the last ones around. Luckily I tipped the driver well so he called us cabs.
 
I figured it took us about four hours to get through borders, which are about a five minute drive apart. I can’t imagine how horrible it is for Palestinian people to go through this and much worse every single time they travel. It is an apparatus of state power meant to communicate your lack of value as a human while “nickeling and diming” you into financial despair.

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