Palestinians are sleepy but still occupied

The Boston Globe‘s The Big Picture news stories brilliantly depict the human side of life right outside our doorstep, thousands of miles away. On 15 August 2011, The Big Picture published a compilation of photographs of people sleeping, including Palestinians.

Photo #12 was initially a pleasant surprise. The fact that a photograph from Palestine was included in a popular photo journal not related to war, terrorism, Hamas, or “Islamism” indicates that people and the media might actually be moving away from their misshapen stereotypes.

But the photo shows more than a sleeping Palestinian baby girl. It shows dozens of Palestinian women packed into an iron enclosure that looks very much like the gates one would find in a standard American dairy farm.

The caption reads:

A baby sleeps while Palestinian women attempt to pass the checkpoint on their way to pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque on the second Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on August 12, 2011. (Bernat Armangue/AP)

This is why I respect The Boston Globe. Not only does it show it how it is, it tells it how it is too. Imagine having to get permission to travel to your place of worship.

And those green cards many Palestinian women are holding say a lot more than one might think. They are not passports nor are they state licences. They are haweeyas, plastic-laminated identification cards used for an Israeli registry to monitor the population and maintain a non-discrete level of control over Palestinian movement. Palestinians regularly spend hours at checkpoints while Israeli soldiers arbitrarily determine which haweeyas to deny and which to permit through the metal gates.

Palestinians may be sleepy but they are still occupied.

Update: The Atlantic‘s recently-published In Focus photo story on Ramadan also highlights the checkpoint problem faced by Palestinians in photograph #19, once again by Bernat Armangue with the Associated Press.

Sami Kishawi

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