Friday in the Occupied Territories, before Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street Demonstration.
Most of the cars crossing the Za’atara Junction (AKA Tapuach) belong to Palestinians. They smile back at us. Sometimes hesitant, at times surprised, then merry. Especially the children. Suddenly eyes light up and faces shine as they wave at us enthusiastically. Tired truck drivers respond to our V-signals. Drivers in fancy suits slow down to read the signs. The occupation kills. الاحتلال يقتل Then they give us the thumbs-up signal. White Hijab-wearing women nod their heads at us and dare to flash a modest smile. No democracy with occupation.
Colonists accelerate, looking away from us. Colonists slow down, angrily spit out “Good Sabbath!”, or stop. Curse. A meager vocabulary, filled with gonads. Women-colonists stop their cars in the middle of the junction, run out armed with their phone cameras. “Lunatics!” one shouts. “This entire country is ours!”
We stand there only for a single hour. A slight breeze caresses our faces. The hills, still green, surround us. Opposite us is an army post. The soldiers watch us through their semi-automatic telescopic lens. Perhaps this is the hour in which their tension and boredom are bearable.
At times a reserves officer comes and angrily declares this a closed military zone. His education, personal agenda, bad day, arbitrariness suddenly show. He tries to tear our banner off the fence. He screams, his face boils. This is a rare event. Usually, the soldiers only want the time to go by.
At the end of the demonstration yesterday, we drove to Huwara. The town is silent since the pogrom, all shops are shut. Soldiers were patrolling the deserted street. Their steps tired.
We found one open shop. A bakery. Sweets Center. Trays filled with honey-dripping pastries. The owner welcomed us happily. You’re coming from the Tapuach Junction? He recognized our women members and our shirts. We sat down to fill our mouths with all those extra-sweet things. The shop owner at the next table, his father wearing a keffiyeh and his sons are across the counter. They smile at us, serve us cold water. And we, “Looking the Occupation in the Eye”, are glad that we made them glad, and our hearts are rent with sorrow, It was sweet, a lot of air and light. And a great emptiness.
It was sweet that Friday in the Occupied Territory, before the Kaplan Street protest. It was bitter.