All through the West Bank there are cities where Jews and Arabs live in close proximity to each other. You may be familiar with these, as they tend to be controversial and in the foreign news constantly. The Jews live in these places because they tend to have religious significance. When foreign leaders talk about settler blocs, they are occasionally referencing these cities, or areas close by.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Al-Madina al-Muqaddasah is one of these cities. As you can imagine, having these two opposing sides living so close to one another causes inevitable conflicts on the micro scale. In an effort to minimize incidents, Israel in some cases designates roads and paths restricted to one side or the other. That means that there are Arab-only roads, or Jewish-only ones (and of course many shared by both). Now, Israel's detractors might call this discrimination or segregation, or even apartheid. I counter that by claiming that such restricted roads are often close-by. So, neither side has to really go too far out of their way in order to travel in their intended path.
While standing guard at our front gate, I spotted two young Arab men crossing the street. They were heading into a path that I was certain was forbidden to them, though I remembered that there had been some conflicting reports on whether that was indeed a Jewish-only path. I called them over to me in my stupid, Virginian-accented Arabic, and checked their ID's. Not feeling comfortable with giving what I thought was the right answer, instead of fully knowing, I radioed in to HQ for confirmation.
When I called in, my platoon commander answered me. I asked whether or not they could use this particular path, to which he replied negatively. Just as I thought, but when in doubt, check it out. He seemed overly happy with me, and said "very good, very good," about five times. I directed the guys to the road they needed, and settled back into my post. Not a minute later, someone that I didn't recognize at HQ, probably super bored, radioed to me.
"You're the cutest in the land, Danny."
Without hesitation, I replied, "That's what my momma says."
Ah, West Bank winter nights with nothing better than chatter on the network.