The checkpoint country

Amira Hass, Haaretz, January 24:

Anyone who wants to become acquainted with Israeli society should go to the checkpoints. Not for a quarter of an hour, under the guidance of commanders who will glory in the pavilion they built for the people waiting in line and will explain that the upgrading and the expansion of the checkpoint are intended to benefit the locals. Those who really want to know the checkpoints should rather dwell here for hours, during several days. When you observe the soldiers, you will discover many Israeli characteristics among them, characteristics in which we have always taken pride.

Comradeship, for example. The comradeship is so strong that there are those who feel they can even deviate from the norms that have been created at the checkpoint, which are perverted in any case. At the Taysir checkpoint, for example, in two cases documented during the past two weeks, a soldier urinated in public, and in the presence of women. Perhaps it was the same soldier both times, or perhaps two different soldiers. This was but an extreme manifestation of the scorn the soldiers at the checkpoint demonstrate for the people who are at their mercy and must pass through there – teachers, farmers, merchants, schoolchildren, workers at the settlements. But this is also an expression of the soldiers’ self-confidence, of the knowledge that none of their comrades will prevent them from doing things they would not do in Binyamina or Bnei Brak.…