Monday, August 07, 2006

"I want to smile"
My friend Hussam has a lovely smile.  And here in Palestine it is always getting him into trouble. 
Yesterday I ran into Hussam in a taxi.  I asked him what he had been up to.  "Last night I came back to Bethlehem through the Container Checkpoint.  And for the first time, the soldiers didn't stop me," Hussam told me.  "Why do they always stop you?" I asked.  "Because I smile."
Hassam told me that a week ago, he was trying to pass through the Container Checkpoint at Wadi Nar, the only checkpoint between the Northern and Southern halves of the West Bank accessible to Palestine without a permit to go through Jerusalem.  When an Israeli soldier asked Hussam for his ID card, Hussam smiled.  And that's when he found himself detained for questioning.
"First, one solider asked me 'why do you smile?'  I told him I wanted to smile.  You can't stop me." 
Hassam told me that another soldier questioned him.  He told him Hussam to stop smiling, but Hussam refused.  "I want to smile."  said Hussam.
Fortunately, the soldiers released Hussam quickly, but he told me that when got back into the bus, which had to wait during the interrogation, the other Palestinians on the bus started to yell at him for causes so much trouble.  But Hussam told him that he was going to smile.  Smiling is his was of being free.
I think my mouth hung open while my friend told me this story.  So much trouble over a smile?  But perhaps that's how resistance can start.
Please, end the violence and injustice.  We all want to smile. 

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