A Day’s Work (Checkpoint [Life under Occupation])

by Mark Chmiel

I ran toward them and punched an Arab right in the face
I’d never punched anyone that way
He collapsed on the road
The officers said that we had to search him for his papers
We pulled his hands behind his back and I bound them with plastic handcuffs
Then we blindfolded him so he wouldn’t see what was in the Jeep

I picked him up from the road
Blood was trickling from his lip onto his chin
I led him up behind the Jeep and threw him in
His knees banged against the trunk and he landed inside
We sat in the back, stepping on the Arab

Our Arab lay there pretty quietly
Just crying softly to himself
His face was right on my flak jacket
And he was bleeding
And making a kind of puddle of blood and saliva
And it disgusted and angered me
So I grabbed him by the hair
And turned his head to the side
He cried out loud and to get him to stop
We stepped harder and harder on his back
That quieted him down for a while
And then he started up again
We concluded that he was either retarded or crazy

At the checkpoint
Young people have the chance to be masters
And using force and violence becomes legitimate
And this is a much more basic impulse
Than the political views or values
That you bring from home

As soon as using force is given legitimacy
And even rewarded
The tendency is to take it as far as it can go
To exploit it much as possible
To satisfy these impulses beyond what the situation requires
Today, I’d call it sadistic impulses

–adapted from IDF soldier Ron Firer, Checkpoint Syndrome
Outtake from Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine

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