When Purim Decides Occupation

Today in Israel, it’s Purim. In the West bank and Gaza, it is another day of occupation. Like many days of the year, our holiday today defines their movement. On Tuesday, only two days ago, Israel decided that it will create a closure on both the West Bank and Gaza for three days, barring all Palestinian workers from entering. That’s over 75,000 workers who will not be able to reach their work over the next three days. Israel decided to impose the closure because of the Purim holiday.

This is collective punishment. Any person in Gaza who was originally given permission to travel is now forced to remain home (Christians originally allowed to travel for Easter still can, though). The only exceptions are humanitarian cases and Christians travelling for Easter. What about those who had been granted permission to go to a relatives’ wedding in the West Bank or Israel? too bad. A funeral? Tough luck.

As for me? I’ll be travelling to Jerusalem to celebrate Purim. No one will stop me. I am free to do as I please and to go where I want to go.

One of the scariest aspects of occupation is the ability for Israelis living within the green line to be totally unaware and unaffected by its existence. Everything I know about the occupation is from things I read, see on Facebook, or hear from friends and acquaintances on the other side of the line. It’s easy for people to claim that there is no occupation when it doesn’t affect us personally. To know the occupation is a choice. I chose to read about the general closure over the next three days. I chose to watch an absolutely horrific video in which a soldier kills a wounded Palestinian lying on the ground at point blank range (and yes, he was accused of stabbing a soldier, but no, he was not life-threatening in that moment or in the minutes before). I chose to expose myself to the realities happening on the other side of the green line and in Gaza.

Even so, I see only moments, and hear only about occurrences. I can’t understand fully a reality in which I have never lived. And while today I chose to read about occupation, there are many days in which I choose not to. Because for me and for fellow Israelis, occupation is something we can choose to see or not to see. But for those now unable to access Israel or other parts of the oPt over the next three days, there is no choice. There is only occupation.

(Featured Image: David Hurwitz via Creative Commons)

Hey, tell me what you think!