Excerpt of It's Easier to Reach Heaven Than the End of the Street by Emma Williams
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I looked at him. He had not used the phrase thoughtlessly.
The incitement, he was saying, is educating the Palestinian
population that all Israel is Palestine and to hate all Israelis. They
remind us of our worst enemies. What hate they have against us.
Why? Because people need an enemy to excuse their own problems,
the problems they have at home.We are weak. No one paid
the price for extermination. You know, Air Marshal Harris said it
was not in our priorities to bomb the crematoria and yet he
managed to bomb installations four kilometers away.
He didnt want me to comment, only to know. He went back
to the Palestinians. Were dealing with sponsored state terror. But
we are not committing atrocities. In fact we have many teams
dealing with the humanitarian side.
On the humanitarian side, General, what about Closure?* I
wanted to hear his views on the realities of life in the Occupied
Territories, described increasingly often as jails by those who
worked and lived there. What about these big prisons?
Ah yes. The fence. He gave me a short tutorial on tactical,
strategic, and operational considerations. The fence is the tactical
and operational solution to the Palestinian problem.
And the checkpoints?
I dont like them. I was flooded with complaints from the EU
and all the others. His arms swept round an imaginary roomful
of unhappy diplomats. We have a special team improving the
humanitarian situation, as I said, and weve removed half of the
roadblocks.Well need even fewer roadblocks with the fence. The
fence will decrease the need for internal closure. Therell be less of
a siege on their cities.
But the cities will be stuck inside the fence.What will happen
when the prisoners cant stand being captive any longer?
He paused. Im not sure I have the answer to that, the
general said. But, what I can say is that with this barrier we are
saving lives, Palestinian and Israeli.When Palestinians kill Israelis,
we have to take measures in retaliation: they get killed. So we save
their lives this way.
At that moment, I found out later, a retaliatory measure was
about to start in Rafah at the southern end of the Gaza Strip. But
our talk had come to an end, and we stood up. I put out my hand
to shake his, and he grasped me, pulling me toward him for a kiss.
As I left I felt mildly like a bought woman, walking through
the outer office with the eyes of the uniformed girls on my back.
I had wondered if we would meet again, as he had said he hoped.
And then hed grabbed me. His smile as he pulled me, that hunter smile,
the same everywhere: no harm in trying, the smile said.
I drove away, forgetting the slow leak in the tire, thinking again
about Peters questions.Where was it that we had gotten to? How
had we gotten here? Amos Gilad had given his answer, in part, but
he had not offered much hope for getting out of the situation.
Here was a general in one of the worlds most powerful, well-equipped
armies, and even he was fearful.Thinking about his wife
and daughter missing a suicide bombing by minutes. Just as we
had the memory kept resurfacing missing a suicide bombing
by minutes. Me and my children.
We had arrived in Israel, eventually, just before the second
Intifada began. When the bombing of civilians started in Israel
one month after that, we began to feel the fear. How many times
since then had we been in the wrong place but not at the wrong
time and therefore still alive and whole?Café Moment,
HaNevim, the narrow streets of Mea Sharim where the Orthodox
live, Pizza Sbarro, Ben Yehuda Street a dozen times over. My
favorite café on Emek Rephaim, where the casualty surgeon died
when he had broken his unbreakable rule not to go to cafés and
restaurantsbut his daughter was getting married the following
day so why not? He and she had both been killed. No bride, no
wedding. The staff in casualty knew he must be dead because he
was always first there after a bomb and this time he wasnt.
Excerpted from It's Easier to Reach Heaven Than the End of the Street
by Emma Williams. Copyright © 2009 by Emma Williams.
Excerpted by permission of Interlink Books. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.