Monday, June 11, 2007

Security interviews

June 1

Left: Ayham in the Fawwar barber-shop.

and Ahmed are still here with Kareem. I went to get my hair cut in Fawwar Camp across the street today, it was interesting. On the way into the camp two Israeli soldiers stopped me and Ayham and started asking us questions: where I'm from, what I'm doing, etc. The same soldier is at the entrance to the camp every day when Ayham goes to school. I told him I’m an American of Indian origin at least five times, but he wouldn't listen to me until the other soldier started yelling at him. What exactly he said I don't know, but I kept hearing “American” and “Indian”, so I assume he was saying something along the lines of he told you where he's from already. It reminds me of my trip back to Haifa from Arafat’s burial (ask me if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

When I left the barbershop (a room with a mirror and a chair) the men at the store next door called me and Ayham back to talk to them. We went, I greeted the man who had called to us, and he took my arm and led me into the store. In the store a few young men including a policeman and an older math teacher at a school in Hebron were standing around; they asked me where I'm from, what I'm doing here, etc. There were four men total, all in their late twenties or early thirties except for the teacher, who was probably in his late-forties. It was all very polite, in typical Palestinian fashion they kept insisting that I eat: bananas, apples, fruit juice (Israeli-made), chocolate, salted sunflower seeds. They also kept giving me cigarettes. I got the impression that it was a Hamas interview as much as an investigation of a curiosity. I can’t say I blame them, Israel sends undercover agents all over the territories to assassinate people. It was disconcerting at first, but after ten minutes it was easy to talk about working at al-Ahli, studying in the US, how many brothers and sisters I have, etc.

Ayham wandered off, I’m not sure if he was told to leave or not. Eventually I said I should go back to Musa’s house and thanked them for their hospitality. Every one of them asked me to come eat at their homes; I said I’d be delighted to, but it was just a gesture, I probably won’t see them again and they probably figured as much.