Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Diaries of a Daily Commuter:Next Stop...

by: R.Kafri

Thank you Israel! As a daily commuter from Ramallah to Abu Dis, and someone who has been delayed in Qalandia anywhere from one hour to three hours, only to turn around and travel through rural areas to get home after a long day of teaching and sculpting young minds, and someone who has sat in her car 3, 4 5, 6, 7 and 8 months pregnant in the white hot summer sun at the entrance of Azariyyeh waiting for the random checkpoint to be removed so I can travel exactly five minutes to get to campus, and the nearest bathroom, I want to thank you. Thank you so very much for this ingenious idea, this amazing creation of yours, this beautiful surreal, euphoric notion….The Peace Train, a railroad track that runs around the West Bank connecting Palestinian cities, illegal settlements and Israeli cities altogether. Oh no, please, this is not unreal at ALL; this is not in the least bit a ridiculous, unrealistic, crazy idea at all. Will you be including a stop in Gaza too?

Just out of curiosity, how will this work exactly? Will you provide recorded announcements clearly explaining what a passenger is to do when arriving at the next stop? I imagine a very serious deep voice with a heavy Israeli accent, coming through loud crisp speakers: “Next stop Ramallah Central Station, if you are Palestinians you may depart the train. Israeli citizens are strictly prohibited from traveling to Area A. Expatriate NGO employees will be subjected to harassment, interrogation and long hour delays the next time they depart Israel via any of its borders, should they travel to the territories.” The doors open for a few minutes then automatically close, and the train travels at high speed. Voice comes back on: “Next stop Jerusalem the Old City, welcome to a land lost, Palestinians not carrying permits are not to exit the train. Special permits are required for those wishing to pray in the Aqsa Mosque. Israelis and foreigners…Welcome to Israel!” Within seconds the train takes off again. I guess fastening your seat belt is a very good idea as the train would be traveling at high speed and considering how short these distances are, screeching halts are to be expected at every station…“Next Stop Maale Adumim: please watch for heavy New Jersey and New York accents that might shock you as you get off the train.”… “Next Stop: Abu Dis, please be advised what once used to be a suburb of Jerusalem is now nothing but a passersby corridor that leads to Bethlehem. Traveling to Area C is not recommended due to political unrest, unless you are a settler looking for a cheap mechanic to fix your car.” Of it goes again, swallowing the land with all its flashing scenes… “Next Stop: Bethlehem…the cradle of Christianity…Christian pilgrims may depart the train only if this is part of their Holy Land/Israel Tour, if you are traveling through the West Bank, please see the expatriate advisory note on harassment, and possible arrest when attempting to depart the state of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.” The train goes off again, you hang on really tight as it speeds through the hills passing one settlement after the other…. “Next stop: Kiryat Arba, please watch for armed fanatic settlers, any suspicious looking Palestinian is at risk of being shot…DEAD…in the HEAD. Also we would like to advise you not offend any incoming passengers by sitting in their seats or any seats for that matter…tell you what if you are Palestinian, we strongly recommend you move to another car, or depart the train altogether. Your life may be at serious risk…Next stop…….

Forgive me, I should probably give you a chance to explain this proposed project, I got carried away in your La La Land conjuring up fast trains carrying Palestinians, Israeli and settlers all in the same confined space. But seriously, there are so many questions that need to be answered. Who will sell the train tickets? Who will collect them? And most important how will the money be divvied up, will the Palestinian Authority keep the income that comes from tickets sold in the West Bank? Will you offer snacks? Kosher and Halal? What will the cars look like? To avoid conflict, will you designate certain areas to Palestinians and others to Israelis and settlers, perhaps the back of the car-stand only-for Palestinians? I think Rosa Park might just walk out of her grave if you do that. What about security? Isn’t that your main concern always….security…Israel’s right to defend itself? How will you maintain it, railroad checkpoints? “Next stop a random railroad checkpoint, the train will come to a sudden and forceful stop; you may lose balance and drop your belongings on the floor. Please watch out for any luggage that may fall off from the overhead compartments. Palestinian Authority passport carriers please step out of the train for random check…this check is for your own security and safety. So what if you feel disrespected and humiliated. Security comes first…” Oops I am sorry, here I go again…did not give you the chance to quite explain… Just one more thing and I hate to be the one to rain on your parade of great imagination (you should genuinely consider writing the next Harry Potter series with this imagination), but in order to build the railroad track, won’t you confiscate more land like you did when you built the bypass roads? Again I hate to be a party pooper here, but if you keep confiscating lands, there will be no place for us to live don’t you think? Or wait is that the point? The aim? The goal? "Next Stop…Diaspora…”


  1. This can not be Harry Potter, this is a horror movie. Wonderful style, was deeply enchanted by the article. Thanks.

  2. Well-put indeed Dr. Kafri. I couldn't help but laugh out loud at points, from the absurdity of the whole thing.

  3. Thanks Dr Kafri, well done. You explained the situation in a good way. Situation will change!!