Need a permit
to go to Amman for cancer treatment? No problem. Work for us and you’ll have
it. Want to go study in Egypt? Visit your dying sister in Saudi Arabia? Get
out of prison? Stop getting beaten up? Sit in jail for a single year instead
of ten? Be eligible for family unification? Live with your children? Get
treated in the only institution that might save your life? Keep your
magnetic card? Your work permit? No problem. You help us, we’ll help you.
And on and on it goes, at every nook and cranny, Israel persists with one of
its most horrible, sinister and stealthy crimes – the recruitment of
collaborators. All black-listed, all guilty, unless you go say ‘yes’ to the
‘captain’. Black-listed regardless of what they’ve done or not done,
prevented a-priori, so that any natural right should have to be purchased.
Offer something in return. And that something is betrayal.
Want to accompany your ill baby to Hadassah Hospital, to be at his side? No
problem, says the ‘captain’ who is actually the Shabak (secret/security
services) officer. Just say "I am willing to tell you who throws stones in
my village, who rebuilt their home after it was demolished, give you as many
names as you ask for, guilty or not, five or ten, as many as you wish” and
then you can accompany your baby. And cure him. And have money to buy him
baby food. And the triple vaccination.
Did you say no? Goodbye then. It’s your own choice.
And the baby? What about him?
It’s all in your hands. You must decide whether to save him. Help us, we’ll
The right to life, to work, to health, to education – are not to be taken
for granted under Israeli Occupation. They are conditional. Goods to be
traded. Everything is negotiable. You can choose not to be shot, not to have
your house demolished, to study, work, get medical care even inside Israel.
You just need to say that one tiny, terrible word. “Yes”. Yes, I’ll work for
Thus behind the checkpoints that are removed and re-erected, removed and
re-erected, behind the Jews-only roads that are constantly improved, behind
the institutionalized land-grab, the indiscriminate killing, the starvation,
the humiliation, the ethnic cleansing carried out in broad daylight, lies
the most sophisticated bomb activated against the Palestinian people. It’s a
transparent bomb. Hits and remains invisible. It impacts, unreported.
Mostly. For whoever said “yes” to the Occupation forces, will not admit it.
Will not tell. Will not be counted.
And this bomb – recruitment of collaborators – is activated exactly in the
place that is supposed to be protected even under Occupation: civil space.
That space that Israel, according to the conventions it is signatory to, is
supposed to facilitate. Those civil needs that are to be provided for
population under occupation, not denied. That which official Israel keeps
claiming that it does.
There, in the Civil Administration, lies this terrible bomb. At any junction
of needs. That is where the real occupation is carried out. There lie the
real checkpoints that only grow with time. And the real wall stretches out
and deepens. And the cold, cynical darkness that has no borders, whose
emissaries are Shabak agents. “Captain Zakai” or “Moussa” or “Tomer”, whose
names these are not, of course. And they, unknown or documented by name,
they are those who stand at every junction of civil application in order to
refuse it, to condition it. Soft spoken, while offering a cup of coffee, a
cigarette. There the monstrous words are uttered, in outstanding politeness:
no problem, just work for us.
After these words, pending on the answer given, the dying Palestinian who
said “no” will go back to die, or will not see his dying sister, or will not
go to study or work or see his children.
Or he’ll say “yes”, I’ll work for you, and will receive a work permit, and
the right to have chemotherapy unavailable in the Occupied West Bank because
medical infrastructure is just not adequate, because Israel will not enable
it, and then die anyway. Because beyond the “yes” lies a huge, bottomless
pit of no return. It is but the beginning of the end. Danger of death,
ostracism, malediction, and remorse. A chronicle known from the onset which
people suppress in moments of desperation and weakness. All those good
people who answer “yes” to a question so difficult to withstand.
And for this crime, this silent, this damned, this transparent crime with
which Israel has caused good, normal people to cross the lines of no return
and betray their own people – Israel will be infamous for all eternity.
We have several stories of people who told Shabak captains “no” and paid a
Muawiya said “no” and lost his livelihood,
Eyad said “no” and had to part from his own
children, Faisal who – in order to say “no”
– nearly did the ultimate.
And this is their story.
And this is the story of the Occupation, from its onset to the present day.
Aya Kaniuk and Tamar Goldschmidt. Translated by Tal Haran.