west bank checkpoint a useful reality check
When our guide advised us to start returning to the minibus.
After a full day of exploring in the West Bank, we stopped at a cafe called \"star \'n Bucks\" on the second floor of an apartment building to have tea and snacks, overlooking the lively Ramallah Avenue. Mohannad, a 35-year-
The old portrait photographer who offers travel services to earn extra cash seems anxious to set out.
The sky is dark and the air is cold.
He took us to the busy sidewalk and walked through a noisy outdoor fruit market.
After a while, we returned to the bus and on the way to the final destination of the tour, it set off through the closed streets: kalandia checkpoint on the highway connecting the de facto Palestinian capital and Jerusalem.
For the past 8 hours, we have been exploring the wonderful intimacy of one of the world\'s most tenacious geopolitical conflicts.
We largely avoided the typical tourist trap and visited part of the \"isolation barrier\", a clear concrete canvas that is now covered with political graffiti separating Israel from the West Bank.
We go through a garbage.
Refugee camps everywhere.
Back on the bus, Mohannad pointed out the Israeli settlement and painted the apartment on the top of the Wave Hill in the area.
After lunch, we were designated as \"Palestine-
Only under the Oslo agreement \".
When we arrived in Ramallah, we stopped to see Arafat\'s grave, a desolate and grandiose monument near the bureaucratic headquarters of the Palestinian Authority.
According to the website description of the last stop of the tour, provided by an Israeli
Palestinian joint venture Green Olive, where participants can \"experience the reality of Palestinian public transport between Ramallah and Jerusalem.
This proved to be understatement.
When the bus drove into the parking lot of the checkpoint, Mohannad looked at the instructions in a hurry: We wanted to keep our passports visible.
After checking, we will find a bus to the gate of Damascus.
But he added that he could not accompany us. His Israeli-
He\'s not allowed to pass his ID card.
We can only rely on ourselves.
The entrance to the checkpoint is a short passage made of steel bars, about a metre away, with more steel bars on the top of the head.
On a small open space at the other end, we looked back and mohannard was waving to us at the bar.
From there we walked into the waiting area to the ID control area.
The Och-colored wall is badly worn and the window is oneway glass.
Sitting at the end of this passage is a steel revolving door, behind it is the second with X-
A metal detector.
The fluorescent lamp on the top of the head illuminates the whole space with dazzling white light.
Security cameras are monitored in all directions.
It feels like a prison.
We lined up with about six locals and waited anxiously for our turn.
On the hoarse PA, a voice makes a command in Hebrew or Arabic.
The line did not move.
We don\'t know what to do next.
A few minutes later, several people in front of us began to cross the revolving door.
But all of a sudden it was locked and stuck inside by a woman.
The line stayed for a few minutes until the revolving door suddenly unlocked.
That woman with X-
And more of people with She go the past.
After a while, the revolving door was locked again, and this time there was a man trapped inside.
Part of the process is a seemingly random interval of imprisonment, which quickly becomes apparent.
When it was my turn, the team began to move and I rushed into the revolving door.
But it was locked before I passed.
Standing in a small space, I don\'t feel particularly anxious.
However, this feeling is disturbing and strange.
Of course, we are just \"experiencing\" as tourists \".
\"It\'s hard to imagine what this passage would look like for those working on one side of the isolation barrier and living on the other.
What happens to ordinary people who must implement this challenge
Including any moment of detention at the revolving door.
As part of a daily commute?
Once I was released, I fed my bag into X-
Through the metal detector, I found myself looking at a young Israeli woman in uniform through a thick glass window.
She glanced at my Canadian passport and handed it back.
We walked towards the exit with signs in Arabic, Hebrew and English.
It wrote, \"I wish you a safe and happy stay.
\"In the weeks since then, I have found myself thinking a lot about this revolving door and its description of the security architecture that now separates Israelis from Palestinians in the West Bank.
The wall with powerful checkpoint equipment seems to have resisted the threat of a suicide bombing. But with the U. S. and the E. U.
Now try to win two.
What will these separatist zones become, the National solution?
In some ways, they are invisible to the wider world.
Of course, when AmericaS.
Secretary of State John Kerry made a shuttle between Ramallah and Jerusalem, traveling in a military helicopter, completely avoiding Kalandia.
It is safe to say that when Prime Minister Stephen Harper was briefly dropped off in Ramallah on this week\'s hyped Middle East tour, his itinerary did not include the passage of this vague dehumanizing Portal
But perhaps diplomats and heads of state should find a way to experience where these mistrust is blamed on resentment, if only to understand directly what it means to not move forward or backward.