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Welcome to Where?

Imagine yourself in these shoes… you and your family live imprisoned behind concrete walls twice the height of the Berlin wall, grimly underlined with razor wire and punctuated by sniper towers. Each tower stands foreboding like a giant inquisitor sneering down over a barren, ravished land; their bullet proof glass eyes cruelly manned by young patriots ready to burn lead holes through human skulls. The occupying force frequently closes the roads and highways you use for work, to see family and friends or hope to God don’t need to reach a hospital. Yet the citizens of the occupying force pass freely on these same roads.

Settlements, internationally recognized as illegal, command most every strategic high point and continue to multiply. Your neighborhood sits surrounded by settlements. And thus your sweet middle aged mother cowers in her home. Yes, she could have been your Mom… had you been born elsewhere.   Caught between unpredictable settlers known to kidnap and burn children alive without repercussion and the racist military presence establishing checkpoints on your street corner, you agree with your mother and keep your beloved children home rather than risk their walking to school.

While strolling to the market one night with your grandfather to pick up dinner, the occupying military inexplicably storms the street firing tear gas into the crowd. You swiftly grab your ailing grandfather by the arm and hurry away as throngs of men, women and screaming children struggle to find fresh air. The high pitched gasps of your grandfather’s wheezing fills your ears while stinging tears blur your vision. The soles of angry, excitable young men pound the ground in the opposite direction; soon they will throw rocks in symbolic protest, receiving gun fire in return. Your crime is your ethnicity. Welcome to apartheid. Welcome to Palestine.

Matt Mullins spent three weeks based in Ramallah, West Bank during November 2014.

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