Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Too busy to run our own occupation עסוקים מכדי לנהל את הכיבוש

I thought surely I’d heard everything, that the situation couldn’t get any more Chelm-like, and now I find out that the IDF, finding that it’s too busy to staff its own checkpoints ― the manifestation of the occupation ― is farming this uh, lively task out to private security firms עברית. I can picture the Chiefs of Staff meeting where they came up with this one:

Chief of Staff: Men, the Tul Karm checkpoint is a problem. There just aren’t enough kids in the 18-20 demographic to man it. Something’s gotta give.

Colonel in charge of manpower: Gabi, what’s the problem? Just crack open the Yellow Pages and give Soldier of Fortune a call. Or Jane’s Defense Weekly. I know I have their number somewhere in my Rolodex here…

Chief of Staff: Nah, let’s go blue and white. Hand out some defense contracts to the local boys. Issue an RFB and I want at least three quotes on my desk by 07:00 hours tomorrow.

Colonel in charge of manpower: Right, Chief. Right away.

I mean, could it get any more ludicrous? We don’t have time to run our own occupation? Oh, excuse me, I meant “liberation”. Let’s see if we can explain things to our alien journalist from another galaxy:

Alien: I’m here with Yam Erez in the West Bank, and I’ve got to say to the folks back home, the way they run this show is downright confusing. Now, Ms. Erez, would you mind explaining to me again why you Israelis are in charge here, yet we can’t visit Ramallah?

Me: Well you see, Israelis aren’t allowed there.

Alien: You’re in charge of this territory, yet you’re not allowed there.

Me: That’s right. It’s in Area C, which is Palestinian-controlled. I mean, it’s ours, ‘cause God promised it to us, and She’s overall in charge, but it’s under Palestinian control. I mean…oh never mind.

Alien: So who’s that fellow over there? The one wearing the Muslim clerical-style head covering and the 5.5 kids? Is he a Palestinian?

Me: Oh, you mean him? He’s a settler.

Alien: A settler. So he’s…

Me: Israeli.

Alien: He’s Israeli. So how come he’s allowed to be here, yet you’re not?

Me: He’s Jewish.

Alien: But aren’t you Jewish?

Me: Yes, I am, but I don’t live here.

Alien: So let me get this straight: You’re Israeli, so you’re not allowed to be here, but he’s Israeli, and he’s allowed to live here. But you’re both in charge. Yet not really in charge, ‘cause the Palestinians are sort of in charge.

Me: Well, I can visit. For instance, were he to invite me, I could visit that settler.

Alien: Uh-huh. And suppose that nice actor of yours, that Muhammad Bakri fellow, wants to visit the settler. Would that be OK?

Me: Well, actually, no, it wouldn’t.

Alien: But I don’t get it. Mr. Bakri’s Israeli, isn’t he? So that means he's an occupier. What seems to be the problem?

Me: Yes -- I mean, no, that is, yes, he's Israeli, but he’s an Arab.

Alien [looking flushed]: It must be the heat. Do you suppose the settler would give us some water? I understand it’s a scarce resource in the occupied -- excuse me, I meant liberated -- territories...

What next? Oh, I have an idea: How about importing Thais or Filipinos to man the checkpoints? Isn't that what we Westerners do with our unseemly tasks? Farm them out to foreigners? Oh, that's right, [slaps forehead] you need permission from…what ministry was it again? The Welfare, or the Agriculture Ministry? I can’t seem to keep all the regulations for the various wood-hewing, water-bearing nationalities straight. [snaps fingers] Hey, I’ve got it! How about employing the Sudanese refugees to do it? They need work; we need staff―it’s a match!


  1. I seem to recall that Blackwater (an American company that hires mercenaries worldwide) had a mostly-third-world population working for it in the occupation of Iraq.

    Jeremy Scahill wrote a book about that company. I'm not quite sure why it's actually legal, but if they open a subsidiary in your neighborhood? WORRY.

  2. Instead of outsoursing checkpoint personning, why not shift responsibility to the outfit which staffs the prisons? They do essentially the same work of permitting and restricting passage and now that the govt has begun releasing some prisoners as gestures, they may have available staff. Also, they can hire and do not depend on draftees. I understand why the latter are reducing, since service in IDF seems less obligatory in Israel. I could surmise more, but that would become another column and unseemly as such. YYbYZhL

  3. This is great - funny and clever. Made me laugh at the end of a long day. Worthy of publication.
    - David F.