Religion & Beliefs

Grandmas Patrolling Israel’s Checkpoints

Any effective Israeli checkpoint guard must have the following defining characteristics: Fearlessness Stubbornness Nosiness Chutzpa Sound like your Jewish grandmother? Well, that’s what the ladies over at Machsom Watch thought too. Upset about the current state and management of Israeli … Read More

By / April 25, 2008

Any effective Israeli checkpoint guard must have the following defining characteristics:

  • Fearlessness
  • Stubbornness
  • Nosiness
  • Chutzpa

Sound like your Jewish grandmother? Well, that’s what the ladies over at Machsom Watch thought too. Upset about the current state and management of Israeli checkpoints, they formed an organization of female Israeli peace activists to offer civilian supervision. Too many times, they say, lengthy holdups at checkpoints have caused students to miss exams, women in labor to give birth before they reach the hospital, and degrading incidents. They especially lament the treatment of Palestinians at these checkpoints, who are often not permitted to travel freely even within their own townships. They decided that checkpoints would benefit from neutral civilian supervision. But who would they send to do the job? The solution: Jewish grandmas. Take Rahel Weinberg and Julia West, for example. Armed with sunhats, clipboards, and water bottles, they brave the heat on a daily basis in order to monitor the behavior of the Israeli checkpoint soldiers. What do they have that the soldiers do not? It's more about what they don't have: A lack of military training and an absence of M16’s on their shoulders. Like any good grandma, these two also have heart and compassion. They are willing to stand in the sun all day just so they can help speed up the checkpoint crossing process for those in need, and they understand the difficulty of the checkpoint soldier’s occupation.

Says Rahel, “They have a dreadful job. It is boring, they work in scorching temperatures and their shifts last ten hours.” What they are there to do is to make sure that these strenuous conditions do not lead to an abuse of power. Rahel continues, “When they see us, the soldiers ask themselves 'what would my mother or my grandma have to say about the way I'm behaving?'” Bottom line: When grannies are on watch, people watch their step. And that is exactly what Machsom Watch wants.

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