Mar 16 2010

Dispatch from the West Bank

Published by at 7:27 am under Israel,Israel-Palestine,Middle East

I happened to be in the West Bank as Israel declared a security lock-down in anticipation of a “planned riot” by Palestinians. In this part of the world, nothing happens by accident — even supposedly spontaneous outbursts of fury.

From my latest in Rediscovering Israel: Quiet Riot

Premeditated or not, the threat of the riots was enough to prompt a security clampdown. “When it comes to the international media coverage, a police crackdown is going to look a lot better than a riot,” said one of my traveling companions from Canada, with a shrug.

What did the clampdown look like? Our van barely slowed down as we passed through the first checkpoint along the way. We were simply waved through. At the second checkpoint, we were actually stopped for about twenty seconds as a sentry asked our driver and guide a few questions. With a nod of his head as he stepped back from our vehicle, we were on our way.

Of course, Palestinians on their way out of Ramallah or other nearby towns might have been stalled in lineups elsewhere. The Israelis don’t rely on “magical thinking” when it comes to security — in a country where 100 per cent of terror attacks on Jewish Israelis come from Palestinian men (and very rarely, women), the political correctness of profiling is entirely beside the point, even if the thought of it makes outsiders squirm. But just as likely, the vast majority of Palestinians heard about the lockdown and barring an emergency, simply stayed in place.

Inconvenient for the Palestinians? Yes. Infuriating? Of course. But this is a different neighborhood than where I come from. You can’t avoid the fact that Israelis are very much the targets for all kinds of violence that is both planned, random and types in-between.

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