At first you think you’re travelling through others’ wounds. In “their” villages, surrounded by fences and walls. “Their” roads, on which only you are allowed to drive. “Their” shops, locked or gaping open empty to the street. “Their” old people and children wandering among overflowing, uncovered garbage bins. Checkpoints at which “their” young people crowd, jammed together, on their way to or back from their jobs and destinations. Only later do you realize that the wounds through which you’re travelling are your own.
Those are the feelings, and in particular the idea that it’s someone else’s catastrophe, that you get from a “Machsom Watch Tour of the West Bank, 10.2.13.” “Tour” – that’s what they call that trip…
I’d always dreamed about the commando units, especially since my obligatory military service (years ago) – the Matkal commando, the Egoz commando; and others as well. I envied the guys who served in them – they were, and still are, the elite. They’d been in Entebbe, in the Beirut airport, in Tunis and also in Tze’elim. And lo and behold – I’m in the “checkpoint commando.” Finally, in the commando. Armed with a camera, surrounded by group of older women… fighters.
I recommend taking this trip – also to those who feel, and think and understand things differently. I recommend this tour of the West Bank to those who love people, even if they’re different, and who love the Land of Israel and express their love by trips to the Negev and the Galilee and the Achziv beach and the Carmel. The trip won’t be easy – but the Israel National Trail isn’t an easy route either. It will be challenging – not to your legs, nor to your physique, but to your soul. And to anyone who may still be able to change their mind.
One glance at the soldiers (you’re forbidden to photograph their faces) leaves no doubt how they feel. The private security guards “are doing their job.” How intently they’re doing it probably depends on the particular individual and on the relationship between employer and employee. A relationship which demands “doing the job perfectly.”
Now, in the evening, when it’s over, you can recall the ideas you had when you began the tour this morning – perhaps they’ve changed. But your feelings must change. You’re no longer indifferent, no longer complacent, no longer comfortable. Now you’re concerned, pained – in one way or another.