Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's Illegal For You to See the Truth

As I've mentioned I just spent 3 weeks in Ramallah in the Palestinian territories/currently occupied/controlled by Israel.

There is another interesting phenomenon that I wanted to write about. This one fascinates and infuriates me.

It is ILLEGAL for Israeli citizens to go into the West Bank (the occupied Palestinian territories) or Gaza. Illegal. They are not supposed to go there. Even Israeli Arabs are not supposed to go there. Israeli settlers are evidently the exception to this rule, as they LIVE in the occupied territories.

It's important to understand that Arab family lines cross these arbitrary boundaries. It is illegal for Israeli (Arab) citizens to visit their families if they live in the occupied territories!

This is merely an attempt to keep Israelis from 'knowing' the truth of what is happening in the territories. The official government line would be that they don't want Israelis to be abducted and then have to work to free them. Sounds reasonable, but what if there could be a waiver that Israelis could sign saying they would not hold the government responsible? I think that's a great idea.

The law is being used to engender fear - Don't go there... you might not come back. It is also being used to hide the truth from good people who might question their own government if they 'get to know' the people on the other side of the wall and the conflict.

Unjust laws are an abomination!

I'm reminded of a story a friend of mine told me about his days in the Peace Corps in Swaziland, South Africa. It was illegal for whites and blacks to walk down the same side of the streets in certain areas. I remember him telling me about defying that law and quickly being 'moved' back to his side of the street by the police.

"Keep 'em Separated!" is a great tactic for making enemies of people... and keeping people from knowing who they are afraid of. So simple... and so effective.

I long for the day when laws like the 'white/black side of the street' and "it's illegal for you to go visit the 'other people'" are no longer obeyed. We allow ourselves to be controlled by unjust and ridiculous laws of man such as this.

All human beings deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.