We live near the Green Line and, because of the placement of Highway 443, pass through a checkpoint every time we go to Jerusalem. Checkpoints aren't all the same. This one controls entry onto a highway restricted to vehicles with Israeli licence plates. There are many who believe that these roads are, in fact, racist. Nothing could be further from the truth, as any of the Arab bus drivers who regularly take us to Jerusalem could tell you. But, these security measures are a necessity. Critics conveniently forget similar restrictions in other countries.
Case in point: the US response to the attack on September 11, 2001.
There were not only roadblocks set up around DC, all air traffic was rerouted away from the US, and even crossing the border by vehicle was temporarily stopped. It was only after many hours that traffic started to move again. I happened to be flying to the US two days later; the trip, which would normally take 4 hours, took 24 hours because of increased security. If the US was being attacked at the rate Israel has sustained shootings and bombings over the years, I would expect entry into America to be damn near impossible.
While real, these restrictions within and out of the territories are the direct result of terrorism. When Israel acquired the West Bank and Gaza, traffic to and from was relatively easy. I crossed the border in 1978 in minutes and there were no checkpoints anywhere. We visited Bethlehem, Jericho and Hebron and were welcomed (they wanted our tourist money, of course.)
And y'know, for all the bitching about the security fence (or whatever you want to call it), 10 years ago both Israelis AND Palestinians wanted more separation. A poll conducted in 1998 found 81 percent of the Israeli respondents and 63 percent of the Palestinians interviewed support(ed) a closed border. More importantly, both Israelis and Palestinians -- 77 percent and 65 percent, respectively -- said relations between the two peoples should be intensified in order to build support for peace. Ironically, one of the loudest opponents of a separation fence was Ariel Sharon, who was set against establishing any line that could be construed as a border.
Although living in Modi'in feels a little like being in the suburbs, we don't ever forget that we're also on the front lines.
crossposted to altmanaliyah.blogspot.com