Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ronny Perlman and the work of Machsom Watch

Machsom Watch is a project of Israeli women providing a watchful presence over IDF treatment of Palestinians at Israeli check points. And Ronny Perlman is one of the women who goes to checkpoints twice a day – in the morning when Palestinian adults are going to work and students are going to school – and at the end of the day when they are returning home. Her observing presence is intended to encourage humane treatment of Palestinians. Ronny and her cohorts write a report after each watch which they believe will become a history of the occupation they vehemently oppose. Ronny described an Israeli bureaucracy which makes life miserable for Palestinians. 200,000 Palestinians are denied admission to Israel “for security reasons”. Undoubtedly some are security risks, but others are put on the list “because they took chemistry in college and that may mean they know how to build bombs”. Getting a traffic ticket in the occupied territory may mean the offender’s name appears on a computer list, denying him/her entry to Israel. Removal of the name from the listg may take years.

Ronny believes the recruitment of Palestinians informers has played a larger role than the “security barrier” in reducing suicide attacks against civilians in Israel. She cites the example of a woman who took her son to Jerusalem three times a week for dialysis. That permission was suddenly denied, leaving the mother vulnerable to being pressed into service as an informer. Such a practice degrades both oppressed and oppressor.

Ronny is a remarkably loyal Israeli. She describes her two sons, one a physician, the other an ornithologist, as kind and compassionate men – and loyal IDF soldiers. Ronny says they cannot talk politics at home, but, recently, her sons called her at the checkpoint she was observing to wish her happy birthday. "Sweet", she said. She acknowledges Machsom Watch is not growing. Like many in the peace movement, they are tired and, probably, discouraged. “It is amazing”, she says, “the Western world allows Israel to continue its oppression of Palestinians.”

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