This zine is an informal documentation of the daily rituals found in the Palestinian serveese. It is a celebration of the mundane acts that confront the absurdity of the Israeli occupation. It is also a guide to travelling around Palestine, but it does not pretend to lead you on a direct road. There are no direct roads in Palestine. Unless you are a settler*, that is. It also does not pretend to represent the experiences of all Palestinians living in the West Bank. It is up to you to do the pretending. Navigate through personal anecdotes, pictures of various pixelation and thoughtful screenshots in order to draw your own map of Palestine, a place where humor becomes necessary for survival. (Hopefully your map wonâ€™t be divided by checkpoints)
* “Settlements” are Jewish-only colonies being constructed in the West Bank since the 1967 war. These violate international law and impede the construction of a Palestinian state. There are now “more than half a million Israeli settlers living in 237 settlements across the West Bank.” Among other privileges, these settlers have access to highways that cut across the territory and that are reserved only to them.
When you ask for directions to the serveese station the next day they are given in relation to the nearest restaurant: â€œYou know the KFC down the street from the girlâ€™s school? In front of that.â€? It takes a while for you to find the unmarked station. The departures for these serveese are swift, as students line up and fill them up, one after the other. Get in. Remain calm. Take the time to figure out the procedure. 10 minutes into the drive a silent and unanimous decision is made. There is a flutter of hands, as everyone around you passes money to the driver and then passes the remaining money back. There is no hesitation on the part of the driver or the passengers who know exactly how much to pay for each distance travelled. You become part of the exchange, dividing the change and then passing it back to those behind you. And there you go, you have experienced the first unspoken rituals of the serveese.
After the Oslo Accords, the West Bank was divided into Areas A, B and C. This reduced the map of Palestine to look like a series of concentric circle graphs, with people trapped between different areas of control. Area A: Full Palestinian Authority control Area B: Half Palestinian Authority control, half Israeli control Area C: Full Israeli control The Palestinian Authority supposedly has full control over the cities and partial control over the surrounding towns, while all rural uninhabited land is entirely under Israeli control. Off paper, these lines are more blurred, as the PA has very little authority in the face of Israel. Israeli troops come in and out of cities to execute raids as they like. In a serveese, you know when you have entered Area C by the sound of the seat belts being clicked on. There is flurry of movement, as each passenger follows the driverâ€™s lead and puts their seatbelt on. The drivers all know the lines of demarcation; the passengers follow suit. Take note when returning into Area A: the first thing to happen is that all the seat belts come off.
Your drive in the serveese from Hebron is interrupted by a container checkpoint set up by the Israeli army and a subsequent three extra hours of traffic. Three women are sitting in the seats in front of you, laughing between themselves. In every village that you cross, the driver slows down to call over one of the shababs, who leans in and points towards a shortcut that will avoid the army. It is dark now and you can see the silhouettes of the three women, outlined by the red headlights of the cars lined up in front of you. Every time the driver swerves off into a small village in order to cut traffic, the women become agitated, talking between themselves and with the driver. The others in the van are doing the same. The driver stops and leans out of the window to talk to a driver in another car that is crossing yours. They both laugh and shake their heads, and the driver of your van decides to follow the other. When you get to the checkpoint, the Israeli soldiers shine a flashlight into the serveese. Everyone gets out their identification cards but they shake their heads. They are looking for the women only. The door is opened and the light is pointed on the line of women in front of you. A voice shouts gruffly from behind the light. There is stillness and then the door is shut. You finally see the figure of the soldier as he gestures for you to move on. The women at the front are quiet.
You’re on your way to Birzeit University from Ramallah. It’s 7 pm, time for you to go home. And it seems that everyone is going home, including the driver. Or trying to go home. Because as you leave Ramallah, he pulls into a side street and stops in front of a bakery. Leaning out the window, he yells at the line of men bagging kilos of bread. “One kilo!” You wait in silence with the rest of the passengers. A bag of bread is handed through the window and the driver places it on the ground next to him. Suddenly the three women in the back also want bread. Three kilos total. The man in the middle relays the message to the driver who yells out again. Three bags handed down through the window. It is warm and the serveese smells of fresh bread. You continue as if nothing has happened.
You are coming back from Jenin. From the window of the serveese you see a large Palestinian stone house surrounded by an olive grove. The valley that you are in sprawls into a hazy horizon. An Israeli soldier is on the roof of the house and is planting an Israeli flag on it. You sit up and try to get a better look but another olive grove is already flashing past. You cannot be sure of what you saw and no one around you is reacting. There is nothing for them to react to; they’ve seen it all. Only the Israeli soldiers walking around in the next Palestinian village confirm that something is happening. You never find out what.
Donâ€™t expect to relax in the front seat of a serveese at 9 in the morning. You try to remain natural, sitting at the front. But itâ€™s only your third time in a serveese and it shows. You havenâ€™t perfected the nonchalant silence, the disregard for the movement around you. You stare forward, secretly amazed by the view of the dry rolling hills. You are in Palestine. Suddenly you realize that the driver is speaking to you. The car is stopped at a red light and he is handing you a large bill. He gestures to the serveese next to you and rolls down your window as he yells at the other driver. You take the money and he points to the other driver. Bsoura, bsoura. Quickly, quickly. Time to make change, you finally understand and lean out the window to hand the other driver the bill. You wait and he returns a handful of notes that you pass again to the driver. The light changes green. You look back and there are more coins. The cars behind you take the opportunity to honk. Back and forth, again. The driver closes your window and shifts the gear to jolt the car forward. Both you and the driver look straight ahead, not saying a word. You hand him your fare of four shekels and a half in silence but he gives you a slight nod and smile in return.
Youâ€™re almost back to Ramallah from Nablus but then the driver takes a route off of the main one, up the hill and into a village. The serveese remains still; people sit bored looking out the window. The change of course is not important; you will all get somewhere in the end. In front of a small house on the edge of the village the serveese slows down. And then everything seems to move at once. There is a quick exchange of bags at the front between the driver and a girl who has run outside of a small house. All you see is the flash of her ponytail at first. For the first time you see your driver as a father, as he waves goodbye to his daughter who stands by the side of the road. And then you are back on the main road. Nothing has changed except the driver holds a plastic bag with his right hand. The bag picks up wind coming from the open windows and rustles the car awake. Slowly, eyes never leaving the road, the driver bends down to put the bag down and pick up a jar of salt at his foot. People start to look over as he slowly unscrews the jar, still keeping one hand on the wheel. He hands the jar to the man sitting in the passenger seat. The passenger peers into it nonchalantly, as the driver signals at him to wait. He dips his hand into the bag and takes out a green sour cherry that he bites in half and then dips into the salt being held by the man next to him. He cracks a smile of guilty pleasure, then passes the bag to the man and all of a sudden we are all involved. The bag and the salt is passed around to everyone with murmurs and smiles. The driver yells out to the man in the back not to be too greedy and everyone laughs. The cherries are passed back to the front and then there is silence except for the bag, which continues to rustle in the wind. 22
At all times of the day, Arabic pop music blares from the radio. It provides a good soundtrack for the views rolling by. It’s especially poignant when entering Nablus and when crossing through the Jordan valley down to Jericho. Actually, not at all times of the day. The mornings are mostly reserved for the news, where the presenter will list the damages done by the IDF raids the night before. Those imprisoned, those shot, those raided. No one lifts their head to listen. The driver is impatient to get to Nablus. You’re in Ramallah and there is bound to be traffic on the road. He takes one look at your group. Definitely foreigners. On the way out from Ramallah he explains that he is going to try to take the serveese through the Hizma checkpoint in order to get on to a settler road, only meant for cars with yellow Israeli plates. It cuts through the winding hills and will get you there twice as fast but you know that he has no chance. He is Palestinian, there are Palestinians in the car and that is enough for the soldiers at the crossing. But he insists. Sometimes there are no soldiers at the checkpoint and you hope this is the case. (The Israelis could sometimes do a better job of pretending these barriers are for “security”) But they are there, three of them bracing their guns at the man in the yellow cab. He has to do a U-turn around the checkpoint. It’s a no.
Additional information about Palestine An Introduction to Palestine http://www.sjpbruins.com/fact-sheets-handouts.html http://imeu.org/topic/category/palestin e-101
On the construction of the occupation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yb wJaCeeA9o
Palestinian culture http://palfest.org/
On BDS https://bdsmovement.net/what-is-bds
Solidarity with Palestine in Montreal: Tadamon! SPHR McGill Independent Jewish Voices McGill McGill BDS Action Network SPHR Concordia SDHPP UQÃ€M SJP UDM
Contributors Gracey Dannatt Maxine Dannatt Oscar Frandsen Jeanette Greven Nami Hirose Ibrahim Njoum Anna Ty Bashar Saadeh Text and collages by Maxine Dannatt Layout and production by Alice Rougeaux With the help of Khatira M. and Laura K. Produced with the help of Students for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR), McGill University and Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG), McGill University
This zine is an informal documentation of the daily rituals found in the Palestinian serveese. It is a celebration of the mundane acts that...