Friday, March 30, 2007

At the Checkpoint

A group called 'Palestinians for peace, dialogue and equality' has been organizing artistic protests against the matrix of Israeli checkpoints that have quite literally imprisoned the reisidents of Nablus and Bethlehem for years, and ghettoized most of the neighborhoods through out the Occupied Territories.

[Image: The relatively new Qalandiya fortified IDF checkpoint in the West Bank, via.]

As part of a "30 Days Against Checkpoints" campaign, Palestinian artist and photographer Khalad Jarar back in February hung 40 photographs depicting the Palestinian daily crossings on a fence lining the Hawara checkpost south of Nablus, "as an illustration of the hardships such checkpoints create for the Palestinians in the West Bank."

Just recently, this exhibition was moved to a wire fence at a Ramallah checkpoint in the central West Bank. "The current installation focuses on Qalandiya," we read, "one of the West Bank's largest" checkpoints where the photos now hang after they were displayed at Ramallah's International Academy of Art.

The Qalandiya Checkpoint, as I've learned, "was erected with Ramallah and Qalandiya Refugee Camp on one side, and Ar Ram and East Jerusalem on the other." This is a primary blockade against Palestinians who try to enter Jerusalem, "which Jarrar describes as the historical, economic, spiritual, and physical heart of the West Bank.”

Making passage through Qalandiya practicaly impossible is the fact that Palestinians in the West Bank must carry Israeli-issued ID cards indicating which areas, roads, and holy sites they are or are not allowed access to. As this brief article mentions, back in the days during the apartheid era "Pass Laws enabled South African police to arrest Blacks at will. Similarly, Israeli occupation forces use ID cards not only to monitor Palestinian movement, but also to justify frequent arbitrary detention and arrest with general impunity."

Such massive checkpoint installations like the one in Bethlehem and Qalandiya are said by the Israeli government to be a "temporary measure", but it doesn't take an architect to determine the amount of money and permanent construction that has cemented these border stations in Palestinian territory. The "terminal" in Bethlehem, for example, is described as a "cattle-catch maze of turnstyles and x-ray machines, all enclosed in an enormous building of wire and steel and sniper weapons with crosshairs tuned like a fiddle."
If ever there were such a thing, it is the architecture of occupation, indeed.

Also, be sure to check out: Terminal in Bethlehem; Bethlehem Prison City Gates; Another small indignity at an Israeli checkpoint


Blogger Unknown said...

Let's try and figure out why these installations are necessary. Do you think it may be because they stop the flow of suicide bombers into Israel?
BTW they don't imprison anyone more than a security checkpoint in an airport imprisons you. Anyway who is not carrying a weapon can pass through.

4:53 AM  
Blogger Bryan Finoki said...

if you think that the only effect of these checkpoints is that they eliminate suicide bombers from permeating Israel, then you need to look again. if you buy the argument that the security wall is strictly about providing security for the israeli nation, then you need to look again.

Let's try and figure out why these installations are necessary.

if you don't see the vicious cycle that is at work, suicide bombers and israeli tanks, suicide bombers and israeli bulldozers, then you need to look again. has the wall, have the security checkpoints, sutured the situation at all? sure, suicide bombers statistics may be down, but what are the longer term repurcussions of the security wall, the jewish settlements, the occupation checkpoints going to be for the security of Israel? just to remind you, the wall has been deamed illagal by the UN multiple times over now. is it right to use the veil of security to essentially take foreign land?

in your judgement, has the Israeli government pursued the right path, for their own people, for the greater region?

it's not only about israeli security. that has become an excuse for some of the grossest attrcocities in the last few decades. you need to look again, charles. the israelis are doing no one including themselves any long term service. in fact, the opposite is probably more accurate.

4:10 PM  

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