In his op-ed piece published on April 16, Gideon Levy bemoans the indifference to the occupation in the public at large, and the lack of a crusader for ending it in the Knesset in particular. Well, I’d like to reassure Levy that I’m reminded of the occupation every (work)day as I enter our (communal) dining room during floor-washing time.
Our dining room team has recently taken to pushing all the equipment (steam tables and warming ovens of various heights as well as other assorted institutional-size pieces) into the entrance, leaving a narrow passageway and reminding me of nothing if not a West Bank checkpoint in miniature. It has that feel too, of not being able to see out the other side. Then I came up with an idea (danger!): The youth movement activity of the 21st century.
Friends who were in Habonim tell me of all means of anti-capitalism indoctrination such as a crawling-on-hands-and-knees race for coins spilled at one end of a long gymnasium reminiscent of the famous digging-for-money scene in the film The Magic Christian; and being taken to a mall and given a few quarters per kid but admonished not to purchase from certain purveyors of enticing foods because said purveyors allegedly supported the grape growers, the leftist enemy of the day.
Why not, I thought, have youth movement members set up and operate a checkpoint? The activity might consist of building the checkpoint out of crates and other junk, an education in itself, as it has to be designed according to certain needs and parameters, with signs reading “Do not go beyond this point”; “Place belongings here”; “Men this way / Women this way”, etc.
Then each kid gets a card telling his or her “identity” and reason for needing to cross into Israel, for instance: Muhammad Abu-Kabir, age 78, suffering from heart disease, needs to get to Israeli hospital for treatment; accompanied by 20-year-old grandson”.
Meanwhile, the counselors have donned IDF uniforms and explain that they have received their daily directives from the intelligence services, and they know that one person in line is a suspected suicide bomber. Their object is to keep that person from crossing into Israel while not obstructing the innocent people who want to get across. The kids’ job is to convince the soldiers to let them cross in. Afterwards, of course, there is a sum-up session.
I challenge all youth movement members and counselors, and anyone involved in informal education to take this one on. I’ll be expecting the reports to roll in…including how many parents complain that the activity is “unpatriotic” and that the movement or school should be “apolitical”, as if anything nowadays can escape being political.
What more relevant activity could there be for a youth movement in 2009? If the Habonim members of the 1970s could crawl around trying to get their hands on a few coins, certainly our kids can spend an hour simulating a checkpoint, the tangible symbol of the occupation, no?