a day in deir yassin

A Day in Deir Yassin

They call it Givat Shaul.  The traffic court is in Givat Shaul. Nabil asked me to serve as his witness to the traffic accident that occurred near the Hizma checkpoint last year.  Even though a Jerusalemite, Nabil did not know his way around the ‘other’ side of town, and we hailed a couple of guys who looked Palestinian to ask for directions.  They were not Arab, but we did manage to find out where the beit mishbat was located.  We were foreigners in this land.  We parked in the underground parking and headed to the court.  The lawyer was not there.  The court clerk asked us where the lawyer was as Nabil’s hearing was at 10:30am.  I dialed the lawyer and he explained that the appointment was at 11:30am.

“No, your appointment is at 10:30am”, yelled the court clerk in her broken Arabic.

“Give me the phone”, she demanded.

And off she went in Hebrew yelling at the lawyer.  My Hebrew is extremely rusty and I could only make out about 50% of what she said.  Your appointment is at 10:30am, and you are late, why are you late, why are you not here, and so on. 

We waited.  Nabil asked me if he could go out for a cigarette.  A 54 year old man is asking me if he can have a cigarette?  I think he thought he was going to prison and wanted one last smoke.  But I said no.  I can not stand being in an Israeli court, and you  are asking for a puff. 

A young Palestinian teen-ager was escorted by two Israeli police into the court room.  He was handcuffed; wrists and ankles.  I wanted to know what he did, but we were asked to leave the court room. 

An older Palestinian arrived in panic looking for the court room.  He asked everyone.  No one would help him.  He spoke in Arabic.  The court’s public attorney asked him to relax and whether he spoke Hebrew. 

“Do you know Hebrew?” asked the public attorney.

“Yes, I know Hebrew, but I will speak in Arabic.”

 God bless him. 

I think he was the teen-ager’s father.  Thirty minutes passed and the Israeli police escorted the boy out of the court room, boy still in handcuffs.  He was a baby.  The public attorney told the father to pay 4000NIS at the post office and his boy will be released within 30 minutes of the payment. 

It was our turn, but I was not allowed to stay in the court room.  I sat on the bench watching Israeli civil servants walk to the Pepsi machine and to the bathroom, and then back to their office.  Everything was in Hebrew.  I read the signs.  I had a lot of time.  The dress code amongst Israeli civil servants was loose, at least compared to my experience as a civil servant in the US government as well as the PNA.  Tight fitting, mini dresses with plateau shoes or heels seemed to be the norm.  I was the odd ball in my long black pants, cardigan sweater, and flat shoes.  A female cop sat next to me to drink her ice coffee from Aroma.  I peaked into the court room.  Proceedings still in process.  When will they call me to the stand?  Will they give me a Quran to swear on?  What language will I use?  I don’t like the Arabic translator in the court room. 

They call it Givat Shaul.  It is cluttered with strip malls and government buildings, and Israeli civil servants of all shapes and colors.  There is an underground parking lot where you get a ticket and you pay through a machine before you exit the parking lot.  Everything…everything is in Hebrew.  If you don’t know the language, you are totally out of luck. 

But this is Deir Yassin.  It is difficult to find traces of this Palestinian village today.  Most has been erased to make room for this thing called Givat Shaul.  But this is Deir Yassin, and will always be Deir Yassin.  On April 9, 1948, the population was massacred by the Zionist terrorists. The city was depopulated in order to host Jewish immigrants in an expanding Givat Shaul.  This is Deir Yassin.   

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