Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Checkpoint Kalandia - Now even bigger

Checkpoint Kalandia, my next novel, may be set a decade ago, but the problems the family face continue today. Kalandia is one of the major checkpoints on the West Bank. It is now a permanent fixture that looks more and more like the entrance to a maximum security prison every year.
Today a Palestinian broke through a checkpoint near Jerusalem. He injured two guards slightly, and the ensuing gunfire failed to stop him. That’s all the news article in the Jerusalem Post says. (http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Palestinian-breaks-through-checkpoint-near-Jerusalem-injuring-2-security-guards-332243).

I wonder what drove the man to run through the checkpoint. What made him so anxious to get to the other side that he was willing to risk his life to get there? Does he have family on the other side? Maybe a sick mother or grandmother?
   Or was it something else entirely—was he at a point where the idea of facing one more checkpoint, one more humiliating experience of being patted down asked to raise his shirt to show his skin, and asked countless meaningless questions just too much for him? Was this act a scream of desperation and despair?
   This is life, not a novel, so we will never know what prompted his actions. We will never share his inner thoughts. We can only imagine what it feels like to live in what may be characterized as the world’s largest prison. No, maybe not. In a prison the prisoners are fed, sheltered, and in most countries given medical care.

There is a very good blog describing a trip through the Qalandia Checkpoint by an American photojournalist. The photos are striking, and the narrative is entertaining. http://holylanddispatches.blogspot.com/2009/06/military-checkpoint-is-one-of-most-well.html

Perhaps you noticed that the spelling is not consistent in this blog or across the internet. The reason is that when words are transliterated from one alphabet to another, the spelling is interpreted by the person doing the transliteration. I use Kalandia, but Qalandia is probably the most common spelling.

The video below is one of the best portrayal of the checkpoint I have seen. It chronicles the history of the checkpoint from temporary to permanent with increasingly restrictive layers of security.

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