I met a woman today while I was visiting the Palestinian village of Ramallah. Ramallah is located just inside the Apartheid Wall that divides the West Bank from Israel. The woman told me a story that broke my heart. As she showed me her ID she explained the three degrees of Palestinian “citizenship” recognized by the Israeli government.
The first are those Palestinians who were living in Palestine in 1948 on land that is now considered Israel. These people carry with them Israeli ID’s. They can vote and fly out of Israel’s airport in Tel Aviv. The second are those Palestinians who are living in East Jerusalem. They also carry Israeli ID’s and can fly out of Israel’s airport. These people cannot, however, vote. Because the first two described Palestinians carry with them Israeli ID’s they are also permitted to maneuver somewhat easily through the many checkpoints which surround the West Bank, as well the villages inside it.
The third type of Palestinian is those living in the West Bank. These people carry on them a Palestinian ID. These people are not permitted by the Israeli government to vote, to fly out of Israel’s airport, or to even leave the West Bank for reasons other than work or medical emergencies.
The Palestinian woman who shared this story with me pulled out her Palestinian ID as she spoke. She looked to me to be about my age, in her early 30’s, and tears streamed down my face as I listened. I tried to imagine the feeling of living my whole life in the face of guard towers, checkpoints, giant walls, machine guns, and tanks…and watching all of this surrounding me as the Apartheid Wall continue closing in.