Monday, January 12, 2004

I just watched an almost two-hour report on Channel One ("Mabat Sheni") on the checkpoints (called "Tarbut ha-Machsomim"), both those on the Green Line and those between various places on the West Bank. Part of the program was a first-person report by a woman reporter from the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv who volunteered to serve reserve duty at the Kalandiya checkpoint between the Kalandiya refugee camp and Ramallah. She interviewed other soldiers and observed what happened at the checkpoint itself, both when Palestinians were permitted to cross and when they were not allowed to cross because for some reason there was a "seger" -- a closure. It was horrible to watch. I felt like crying, especially when watching children not being permitted to cross or seeing their elders humiliated at the checkpoint. She also interviewed a young Israeli woman soldier who was serving her regular army duty at this checkpoint -- and this woman felt awful about what she was doing at the checkpoint, and at the same time seemed to express the feeling that it was necessary.

Another part of the program was devoted to a report on an attack on soldiers and civilians that happened at another checkpoint, where eleven people were killed by Palestinian terrorists (about two years ago). They interviewed the mother of the Israeli commander at the checkpoint, who had been killed in the attack, his friends, and also a member of Knesset who was a friend of the family and was bringing the issue before the Knesset. This report was very sympathetic to the soldiers and the untenable position they had been placed in by the location of the checkpoint -- in a valley, where they were exposed to fire from above.

There was more on the program, but let me say that one of the things that impressed me was that this was made by, and shown on, Israeli Channel One, which is owned by the Israel Broadcasting Authority, a government agency. The wide-ranging nature of the debate in Israel about the morality of the occupation, about what to do with the settlements, about how to respond to Palestinian terrorism, about the need for a Palestinian state, etc., is quite refreshing to see here.

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