Facing Off with a Humvee
The last week of October was one full of tensions and scenarios that any sane society should not have to confront. For me, I confronted a situation that Palestinians likely experience regularly but, until working in a Palestinian neighborhood, I had not found myself in.
I was on my way to work, driving along a very thin road that borders the wall separating one part of East Jerusalem from the nearby suburbs of Ramallah. The road is always difficult to maneuver as, if one car is driving towards you, you usually have to put one set of tires on the sidewalk. I’m sure it used to be wider before the wall was built, but this is how it is now.
As I drove around a curve, continuing to follow the wall, I suddenly saw several huge IDF Humvees in the thin stretch of road. I saw the dumpster on fire and a lot of smoke behind them but all I could think of was that there was no way to back up that whole stretch of road, especially with two cars behind me, and I really, really needed to get to work as the traffic had already been horrid.
There was one other car in front of me and I watched as the people on the street just helped him to the sidewalk and into driveways and then to another sidewalk to bypass the IDF vehicles. I also watched as it seemed the soldiers were waiting for something and they observed the cars coming towards them and the car bypassing them.
Suddenly, I was the next car up, squarely facing a huge Humvee. People on the street started waving me the same way the previous car had gone so I just followed their directions and quickly maneuvered over the sidewalk, into someone’s driveway and then onto another sidewalk. I felt a sense of camaraderie and was really grateful for these people who were so helpful, not even knowing me!
After I was done and arrived at my destination, I suddenly had the vague memory of the soldiers waving at people and seeming interested in the cars. Oh dear, what have I done, I thought. I think they were checking everyone or wanting people to stop and I just followed the example of the person in front of me without knowing who they were or anything. For all I knew, they could have had reason to not want to be stopped and I just implicated myself in following their example! But, when in Rome, do as the Romans do, so to speak, right?
For the rest of the day, all I could think was that the IDF or police may come looking for me or my car or something…Thankfully, this did not happen as they seem to have better things to do than chase after a young, pregnant American woman. Who knows if that would have been the case if I had been a Palestinian male but I wasn’t worth their time and maybe what I did wasn’t as questionable as I thought.
It did make me think, though. How frequently do many Palestinians get confronted with such situations? And how often do they end up innocently just trying to get on with their lives and are then perceived as guilty just for doing so? Or seem guilty because they happen to be in proximity to another who is? These things make day to day life so much more complicated than I have to deal with and causes me to realize how very privileged I am.