Sunday, 22 August 2010

Chapter 1 Anxiety

I gave in my notice today.... then I panicked. I’ve been talking to people and ‘in’ is seeming like an increasingly elusive concept.

I’ve gotten very helpful but wide-ranging (and often conflicting) advice from a number of sources and the one thing I have learned is this:

There is no way I can guarantee that I make it across that border.

I’ve been told not to say I am where I am from, ‘say you’re Jordanian instead’.

‘Get a new passport issued if you’ve got lots of Arab stamps on yours.’

‘Tell them you don’t speak Arabic.’

‘Try to look and sound as westernized as possible.’

‘You’re better off flying in to Tel Aviv.’

‘You’re better off crossing the bridge.’

‘Say you’re on a Christian pilgrimage in Israel.’

‘Say you’re staying in the Palestinian Territories.’

‘Call it Israel never Palestine – that bothers them.’

‘Don’t say you’re a teacher, say you’re a tourist otherwise you won’t get in.’

‘Don’t say you’re a tourist or you’ll only get a one month visa instead of a three month visa.’

‘Try to stick to the truth as much as you can when answering their questions but try not to tell them anything.’

‘They might Google you so make sure you’ve got nothing online that might represent you as a politically or socially conscious type of person.’

Wow, really? This is the hardest I’ve ever had to work to travel to another country. I’ve been in a state of semi nausea since I started researching and actually find myself feeling afraid; afraid of the shame of being turned away. Being unacceptable. Failing.

On an intellectual level I’ve always been aware of the travel restrictions and difficulties the Palestinians face in their day to day lives. But even getting a tiny taste of its potential to happen feels like a slap in the face.

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