Sunday, February 25, 2007

A Full Circle: The Complete Sage






July 15, 2005 Sweet Home Sweet



So it took me nearly five years to take a chance and go back to Gaza to visit my family. I was in DC and my work permit was expiring mid May and my work wanted to keep me longer I could not legally do it and school was coming in the Fall, so I saw that I had some time that I could spare and see my family which I love and miss so much. My family has asked me every summer to go, but I could not due to complexity of the situation and the unrest which does not bother me, but getting caught in the middle disturbs me. My friends in DC and I kicked it for a long time (Joey, Kari, Kellee,) and I bought a ticket on the Russian airlines out of Virginia Dulles Airport. The Russian had a good deal for about less than $1000, a round trip ticket to Cairo International Airport. I called the Israeli embassy a week before and inquired about flying into the Tel Aviv airport, they hang up the phone on me! Was not nice, but I think they thought I was a prankster.

July 15th 2004 was a Saturday and my friends from Senegal, Ethiopia, and Bahrain decided to come to the airport with me to see me off. Getting lost in the Dulles airport is a must and part of the experience, but when I got to the register, it took them more than 20 minutes to figure out the code for Palestinian passport, they panicked and I panicked as well, I thought they would not let me fly that day. They tried to put PAL , PNA and none of them worked, finally when they called some superior they figured it out. I came to later know that it was PSE even the Egyptians airport struggled with that one. Anyways, the give me the ticket and take my language and I see my friends off, I go into one of these giagantic trucks that moves travelers from a gate to a bus and the bus takes you to the airplane. But before then, the immigration guys took I-94 form from my passport and give me back my passport. I get in the airplane and I release I am in a foreign country already, English is not spoken and if spoken it is spoken in a very strange manner. Anyhow, the flight was headed to Moscow and the crew was very helpful and there was several meals and refreshments served. A day before my friend Kari Ann bought me the Thomas Friedman’s book “The World is Flat” a very entertaining book with many new concepts. I get to Moscow and man I started to notice the changes already, different languages, people from all over the planet, 10 years back in technology, everything is overpriced, but smoke—my dad instructed me to buy him some cigarettes something I did not want to do. I did not know how much I appreciated life in the US till I go there, but people were nice, granted music and movies were more expensive than in the US.

Couple of hours later we board the jet and be on our way to Egypt. But before I boarder the jet, I ran into a couple of ladies I have met back in BYU and we had mutual friends, it was fun to see how far the BYU connection can go, we actually even sat near each other on the jet. They were going to visit Janice, a mutual friend of ours from Michigan, she was studying Arabic there. Couple of hours later, we are in Cairo and getting our language together, I could feel the change again there, people look like me and speak my native tongue, but I was not adjusted, I was still thinking in English and speaking it in to people who do not necessarily understand it. My good American friends—by now we are good friends—they wanted to wait for me so we can share a cab, but I wished things worked this way for us. I knew their American passport can get them very far, but mine cannot get me anywhere. So I told them to go ahead and leave without me and I will catch up with them later—was call on my part. So the border’s officer sees my passport and tell me to stand aside, I did. A minute later some uniformed officer comes and tell me to grab my stuff and follow him. They take me to this dark room and looks really old and has a funky smell to it. There were a grouped of four uniformed officers enjoying their dinner, I was told to take a seat and wait. Which I did, there was a Sudanese gentleman was sitting next to me, very fun guy who worked in the gulf and wanted to take care of business before he heads home. He told me about a security officer who will call me in a minute and ask me questions and wants to see my paper. The Sudanese man told me to “bribe” the officer in fact he gave me Egyptian money to do it—I only had Dollars with me. I thought from the movies this is a common practice in Egypt in the rest of the world. The officer called me in, he was a young hot shot who did not have a uniform, asked for my papers and I shoed him what I had and told him I have an appointment in the American embassy in the morning that I needed to go to. He was really nice person; he called his superior to ask his opinion on what to do with me. The last thing was for me to give this guy a bribe, I chickened out and I did not do it. The officer asked me questions and basic things then 20 minutes later he told me that I got to go to the deportation room, a room where they put the world rejects to deport them or escort them to other ports so they can get the heck out of Egypt. He said some odd comment as I was leaving “You and the Jews are cousins, you are one family and they should take care of you” I was not sure what he meant, but I thanked the officer and went to the room in a bus, where they guy harassed me about giving him a tip which I did. But before I can leave the airport, there was a more senior officer with many stars on his shoulder told me “and take care of me too, I want to live” “E7nah 3awzeen ni3eesh Kaman” I said sure, and walked away.

Finally, I get to the room where all my home boys are placed and there are two police officers with big books guarding them. There was no one in the room but Palestinians young and old male and female. I was so happy to see my home boys and so many of them, these guys received me and talked to me, asked me questions about my family and my background, they told me to shave my beard for my mom. They got me some tea—Ido not think the honor code was in affect then; I was not yet a student of BYU and send a runner to get us some food, he stole our money, but got us a sandwich or two for a lot of $$$...I had my camcorder with me and filmed the room and the nasty bathrooms in there, I even interviewed some of these guys for fun. They news from home were not all great, but the Israelis were. So I was in the room by 5 AM and the bus that will take us to Rafah cross the Sinai comes three hours later. So after handing the officers with cigarettes and handing out cigarettes to some no ones that I needed nothing from, more security guys come and ask us to drag our stuff and follow them. These guys were not nice, they were demeaning and rude, some of out hot blooded Palestinians almost caught in fights with them, but good thing we had older people who were peacemakers.

We go through customers and these guys open out bags and play with the contents like they know what they are doing then they ask me, if I had any electronics on me, “Yes, I do have the camcorder!” he tell me to fetch it and then I panicked, I thought he would check out the content of the tape and then get me in trouble for filming the nasty bathrooms. But he did not; he simply just wrote that I had a camera on my passport so the guys at the other end of the borders will make sure I still have it with me and not just drop it in the way to some Egyptian dude. Minutes later we were on our way on a good condition bus, the driver an armed security officer were to accompany us all they way from Cairo to the Rafah borders. They charged us an arm and a leg for the ride and they took us to shop in places that took advantage of us so they can get a kick back. For example water bottles in Egypt are about .25 US cents, but the place he took us to was about $1.5, as much as I tried to bargain with this guy he would not let down. I also could not go very far because these guys have my passport.

During the ride, I could not help but notice the many security check points we had to go through and the number of military police spread all over the place in the streets and on the roads. I think it was six hours later, we made it to the Egyptian borders and there were huge lines there, was very chaotic and so many boys running around slamming you with all sorts of tickets and fees that you are to pay to them, some shady stuff, but if you travel on this road many times, you get the idea. Anyhow, the Egyptians custom agents check my language, go through it and look at my walkie talkies and ask me about them, the handle of my bag breaks and it became harder to carry it, but once the custom guys cleared me, I was to load my stuff into a new bus that will take me to the Israelis. Before I do that, I tracked the guy who signs off on my passport that he checked the camcorder, I found him and he singed it for me, he had no uniform on which was confusing.

Right where the Egyptian borders, there are shops selling cheap merchandise like smoke, cheeses, and some other things, many Palestinians use and abuse these cheap products and make huge profits by just carrying it through the borders to sell it for four to six times as much. Before we left there was many fees we were to pay to the good people of Egypt about 180 Egyptian pounds to get departure permission, once you do that, you load up everyone in a crappy bus and head to the Israeli side which is a very interesting experience.


So, twenty minutes later, we get to the Israeli side of the Rafah Borders, it was much nicer than what I have seen so far, and much more sophisticated and armed. There were so many armed officers who look ready to shoot t any given point. They looked tense and prepared in their green uniforms and large guns. In the bus all the men and boys were standing and the ladies were sitting, the bus was crowded, people want to get home and get to the Israelis before they closet their side—if one misses they would have to sleep on the borders for the night, where no services or anything provided. We start unloading the buses at that point it was in the afternoon around 3-4 PM, before we go into the same building where the Israeli border guys check us in, we had to go through some sophisticated technology that resembles an MRI machine, only standing and one goes in there for about 30 seconds and there are instructions on how to do it properly, during that time the Israeli officers are watching you inside the machine and another one only few feet away with a gun in an aim position. All men had to go in the MRI machine, most women had to go there, but sometimes they will send the pregnant women to another machine. I go through clean and get into the office, the agents collect our passports and ask us to wait in a waiting area, and there were chairs and air conditioning, it was a nice setting. Most people will be called in about five minutes and they go through security and collect their belongings and go to the other side and load their language and get ready to get to the Palestinian side. I waited for five, ten, fifteen, twenty, half hours and bit more then three officers in civilian clothing come—two males and a female. They spoke to me in English “Are you tired” They asked. “No, but you know, long trip” I replied. Then he said “where you coming from” “US, Moscow, Cairo” I said at that point he started touching me in the stomach area like he was looking for weapons or whatever. Then, they took me into a room inside and asked me to put all my stuff in the box and take out my shirt, I did do all that, an officer came and run a machine on me and then told me to wait, another officer who spoke in Arabic—but he was not an Arab told me to come to a room with him. In the room there was another officer on a computer and greeted me. They both started talking to me. They asked me the basis questions: “where have you been?” “how was the trip?” What did I do in America? Who are my friends? Who paid for my school—thanks to BYU, that was an answer that helped a lot. I answered all their questions and the conversation was so casual that we talked about an Israeli pop artists and one of the officers went back and got me a poster with her asking me “do you still think she is hot?” Do not get me wrong these guys were professional and asked the real questions, and even gave me love advice on who to marry and what to do with my life. He offered me a bottle of Sprite half empty, I declined. But the other officers he was an Argentine Jew, so we spoke in Spanish, he liked that. I told the officer that I needed help to get out of the Gaza Strip, he said that will take forever and I need to file with some administrative agency and because of my young age this will take some time. They also asked about a family member who has the same name as mine, I said I have no idea who was this guy, but we offred to call my mom and ask her for that guy’s info, but they said there was no need. After 15 minutes I was done, they cleared me to go, I went out picked my language and went to the bus that takes us to the Palestinian side, I was so relieved when I left the Israeli side, I really felt that they will keep me or something. The bus was crowded and the Palestinian guys opened the border gate and let us in, as we were unloading our belongings, the Palestinian officers came and collected out passports and asked us to go about a block to get them. A taxi driver grabbed me and told me he will get me my passport for me and drive me home, he told me it will cost me about $35 to get me home, I bargained, but could not get much—it was a rip-off though. I went with him and the officers from the National Security or the Preventative Force handed me my passport and asked, if the Israelis have talked to me, I said “Yes, they did” at that point, he called another guy and asked me to go in for an interview. I was not surprised, the Egyptians met me, the Israelis interviewed me and the Palestinians have to do that as well. The interview had the same questions, who pays for my college? And if the Israelis have offered me any sort of help. I said no, no such thing and I said that I had a scholarship that pays lots of money. The driver was yelling at me to get back so we can get to the check point before they close, we had about an hour drive to get to my town. The security officer asked me if I pray, which was an odd question. The fact that I told him about going to a Christian school confused him. When my answer was “alhamdulilah” praise the lord, which means a humble yes. He let me off the hook. I was now done which security clearances for one day, and was getting ready to surprise my family who did not know of my visit—just ideas, nothing solid.

I discovered that there is a new check point “Abu Hooli” which could give us a wait of hours and maybe days, this check point borders an Israeli settlement and Israeli soldiers have killed many there, some Palestinian have actually done some damage there to the Israelis. And there is a new street that the Israelis bulldozed so the cars cannot go from the North to the South or the other way around. All these things were not mentioned to me by the driver who said “Bawaslak la bab elbeet” I will take you to the house door, but he did not intend to do that he deceived me and I did not know better. Anyway, we got to the checkpoint and there was a long caravan of cars waiting to be allowed in, there was a bunch of Palestinian capitalists are taking advantage of this bad situation by selling tea, coffee, nuts….etc. we waited for about half an hour, people started slightly moving forward and our driver moved forward too, the Israelis are yelling at the people not to move forward, fired guns at them, but it looked that people were sick of waiting and decided to cross the checkpoint which we did, we were luck that our car was surrounded by tow huge tomato trucks so if the Israelis shot we will be safe. We made it out of that area and 15 minutes on the road, we heard that a 15 year old kid was killed at the same checkpoint, he was from almasri family.

About 30 minutes way from home, the cocky driver, who was rushing things, got us in a CAR ACCIDENT with another car. I was shocked and could not talk at that point. I literary had to jump from my seat to avoid hurting my legs—I was sitting in the front seat. People started gathering near the car asking me about what happened. I said nothing I was like, I spend five years in the US and I could have died in a car accident 30 minutes away from home. It was ironic, and I was mad at the situation, both drivers and the crappy roads. So the driver asked for the money and arrange for another car to drive me to the next point, where the street has been bulldozed where I switch cars. The new driver asked me about the accident, I did not want to talk about it, but there was a guy with a beard in the taxi with us, he was from jabalyah camp, the closest to home, so he helped me move my stuff from the taxi when we switched and I invited home to share the taxi with me where I pay for both of us—I was paying the same amount anyways. In the way, they started talking politics, he was mad at the US and the war in Iraq, US support to Israel and the list gets bigger. I kept my conversation short, now my hear is jumping from my body, it is already home. I was thinking about going back to the old streets, and the places where I grew up. Things changes to the worse from what I can see, the streets have more graffiti and guns are everywhere, roads are damaged—what do you expect from a five year intifadah? I barely could recognize my street, but I did and three minutes I was at the door of my house, I could not believe it, it was so surreal, some of the neighbor kids came to the car, but I did not want them to ruins the surprise, I ran as fast as I could to see my family and surprise them. And the taxi started unloading my two bags. I knock the door and my sister in law—I did not know her by then and have not met her before opens the door. I asked if my mom was there, and she was and walk into the room or the kitchen and there she was, she could not believe it, she was crying, laughing smiling, she was overwhelmed with emotions. She was so happy and so was I. and everyone started coming to our house, news spread fast courtesy of my countless nephews and nieces, an hour later, our house was like a small town. My brothers and sisters have grown up, some were much bigger and taller than I recall, my dad closed the shop early and joined us, he also was overwhelmed and proud that I could come and surprise them in this fashion. He looked a bit older, but his hair was in its place. My sisters all have small armies of kids enough to start a third intifadah. It was one of the greats feelings I have experience in my life. The only bad part about this trip was the fact that my mom got sick for a week because the surprise shocked her. Next time I will give them enough time notice. Perhaps the fact that I was lucky in my travel, pretty much everything worked out for me, borders were opend and my way was clear, did not have to stay weeks on the borders like others who had to go through this humiliation.

First week of August, I had to apply with the Department of civil affairs who in turn will coordinator with the Israelis to authorize me to leave the Gaza Strip. Many people have told me that I will NEVER be able to leave the Gaza Strip because I was young, and the Israelis were disengaging from the Gaza Strip, I even went to the MidEast, an American institute in the Gaza Strip to ask them for advice. They director was a jerk and asked me mockingly "Why Did I come back?" I give him one of my world famous angry looks; smiled and told him that "I have been away for five years and I needed the time with my family" he looked at me and said "So what?" I was like "Who is this guy?" I told him I want you to know that I will go back to school. He said: "Sure you will, when you have three kids of your own, the Israelis will let you out" This was scary, just thinking about missing my first semester at the MPA program. I got even more mad and put my go-get attitude and shot back..."I will make it out of here" By then my cousin who was with me interfered and we left the place. Now, I had this guy tell me I will not leave, the Israeli solider telling me I will not leave, some folks in my family telling me that it would be hard to get a permit from the Israelis to leave the Strip.

I was getting nervous and thinking, I will not longer have fast internet and be able to enjoy new releases of movies when they come out. On the same day I filed with the Department of Civil Affairs, they got my papers (I-20, ticket, letters of acceptance, ID card...etc.) Once I did this, I was told it will be two weeks. So my flight leaves from Cairo International Airport on the 25th of August 2005. I was in a good shape time wise. I also had to go to Egypt to get a new US visa from the American Embassy; this will take about three days.

So in order to get in Egypt one needs to get a transfer visa, which I tried to get form the Egyptian embassy in Gaza. However, there was bad luck, on the same day I went to the embassy, there was a major bombing in the Sinai desert and Egyptians everywhere where on high alert and in bad mode, so the door of the embassy the guy told us "Go Home" which was not all too shocking. Now, I thought if the Israelis clear me to leave the Strip; the Egyptians should let me in since I had papers and I have a set interview with the American embassy in Cairo. Boy, I was wrong. I was told that a visa to Egypt takes more than a month--remember I only had two and half weeks to make it to my flight.

I have an aunt that lives and works in the United Arab Emirates; she is a teacher by training. She also had to do the same thing and go through clearance process. She had her kids with her; I think there are five of them. She did not have a hard time especially because my uncle Kamal a business man and is well connected with big guys with this borders people, he arranged for a special taxi to drive her all the way through the borders and pick her up on the other side. Because she and her kids had to stay on the Rafah borders for couple of days to be allowed in, it was painful so getting out was much easier for her. Thanks goodness, I did not have to wait this much to get in.

Ten days later, my cousins call my family and tell them that they have heard my name on the radio and I have been cleared to travel outside the Gaza Strip, I was happy. I have listened to the list of names of people cleared to travel every day since I applied, but somehow managed to hear my name and someone had to tell me. I packed with haste and got all my goodies and my Mom hooked me with more food items. My brother arranged me a ride with one of his guys who know the way--he turned about to be a crock. I saw my family off that night, and had to rush to the Rafah border crossing at 3 AM, my sisters all came down to our house, we partied, but when I was about to leave they started crying and it hurt me to see them do that, so I cried along (sorry guys, it was emotional) I was rushed to the rafah border, it was a shared ride, there were about five other people and all were heading back from the Gaza Strip. My family got me some change for the road, some Israeli money to pay for the ride.

So, we get to the border point, and the first we had to wait by the Palestinian side, no one was open, it was too early. I got to meet and talk to a lot of people like me traveling around and enjoying the good life abroad. Three hours later, the Palestinian security guys open the office and collect our passports to send it to the Israelis for another clearance. Hours later, they bring back the passports and load us in cars that will take it to the Israeli side for final check. It was very chaotic and disturbing to see all old, sick, kids, women, all fighting to get in the first car to make it to the other side before they close--which is a regular practice by the Israelis to shut whenever they feel like it--I was again cleared to travel, loaded my bags with these guys who gave us fro clear instructions of taking off all our metal objects, shoes, belts, coins, keys so the Israelis won't find a reason to send the whole taxi back.

I have noticed a large number of women and senior citizens going with us and these people do not carry any language with them, very un-Arab thing to do. I came to know these guys, are business people, they go to the Egyptian towns, buy cheap merchandise and cross the borders with it, sell it for at least quadruple the price and make a living. They buy cheese, hygiene products, smokes, food…etc. But there is a risk, if the Israelis manage to see what is in your bad, they will most likely confiscate their goods or slam them with a large fee that people decide to leave their stuff behind. Till this point I ma not sure who gets the customs or the stuff left behind, I literary saw ballots of smoke boxes and all brands were there local as well as American.

WE did just that, took couple of hours to move 500 meters, and very sophisticated process and time consuming if I may say. Remember, this is August in the Desert; it was HOT, and sweaty. We make it to the Israeli side; they put us in the machines outside the door. Remember MRI machines, they scan everything. The Israeli security officer is standing there with a gun aimed at people in the machine in case they make a wrong or a right move, intimidation at its best. The security guys will speak to me in Arabic, and there Arabic was bad at best, English bailed me out.

Once, they let us inside the building an officer who speaks Arabic well, collects our passports and send us in a waiting area. Then they will check it, take a photo of us, and send us to a custom agent who charges us about $50 a person to get out. I would have paid $100 to get out from the sun's way. After clearing us again, we went outside, men and women started praying it was 3asir time (Third prayer of the day) some sat waiting for the bus to move to the Egyptian side, where we would be allowed into Egypt.
A bit before the evening, we made it to the Egyptian side, one cannot help but notice the difference, less guns, less technology and more guards dressed in white uniforms. People raced to the counter to hand in their passports to the Egyptian officers to look at them and hand them a visa or deny them. Me and the guys I got to know during the course of the trip, handed in our passports and answered questions. The type of questions they asked assured me that I will be denied entrance; I started feeling that I will most likely be denied entrance of the Egyptian land for the second time…... and I was.

The Egyptian officer asked me to show him that I had a valid US visa in order to let me be deported to the Cairo International Airport on a bus where an armed Egyptian officer guards is form the border point till the detention room in the airport. I told him, I got the papers that will get me the visa (I-20 form, Letter of Submission, bank statements…etc.) He asked me if I had tanseeq which means coordination with them done on my behalf so they would let me into Egypt. I said, no. at that point was indifferent, but took my passport anyways. I sat around with my new friends, all of them got through, hundreds of people were allowed into Egypt either by deportation on a bus to the airport or by letting them into the country—depending on their visa or lack of visa. Half an hour later the officer came back and told me that I have to go back to Gaza, get a visa and come back. I tried to reason with him, use the best of my negotiation skills; nothing seemed to work with him. I did admired him for his dedication to keep Egypt safe from terrorists with my skills (I am joking here) the guys who got their paperwork done and about to leave the border point, said “We are sorry Hani, you came this far” there was a lot of nice people there after all. I told them, “It is not like they are denying my entry to heaven” I was mad, but could not do much.

At that point, I called my family and asked them to do something form their end, they tried, and called some people, they gave me a name of a guy who works in the borders that might be able to talk the Egyptians into letting me in. I tacked him down the whole night and suddenly he came. I grabbed into him and explained the situation he said “no paper work, Egyptians won’t let you in.” I was like “thanks a lot for nothing” so I had to spend the night in the border point because the Israelis have shut down and there is no way to go back till the morning.

There were other rejects, so I wasn’t the only reject. There was this 20 something Palestinian kid form the southern part of Gaza who is an IT student in Russia, who had the same problem as I did, the Egyptians tried to help him more than they did with me. I mean even the head of the Egyptian border point met with him. But all that got him nothing and he had to stay with us the same night. His name was Hossam. There was this older Palestinian women who was going to receive medical attention in Egypt, she has all the paperwork, but her son was along with her and he was to take care of her while she was in Egypt. The officers told her, they would let her in, but not her son. There was another Palestinians guy who is a mechanic and was to work on cars that were given to the Palestinians by a donor country and literary you can see the cars 100 years away from our detention area, but they won’t let me go and work on them. There was also an older Palestinian guy who I think is a businessman and does this in purpose so he does not have to pay the entrance fees to the Egyptians, he goes there and sleeps the night in the borders and in the morning, he bribes some officers there to let him buy cheap smokes in turn he would carry them cross the borders in make couple of hundred dollars in one night. We all got to know each other and talk for a long time.

The place was literary an empty garage with few old metal seats and tens of dressed in white Egyptian security officers. I feel bad for these officers, because once the Palestinian leave the Israeli side they think “no more enemies and people who mistreat us” so the Palestinians are not very nice toward these Egyptians officers who are underpaid and overworked (for real they are!) with minimum entertainment in the desert, there guys are board to death and would talk to anyone. I spent sometime talking to them and getting to learn about the.

It was pass sunset now and we had to do our fourth prayer of the day, which we did in a group and it seemed to me that the Egyptian officers wanted to keep as much distance from us as possible as if we had the Avian Flu or something. Eventually, we got hungry and wanted food, my mom actually gave me some food which lasted me some time, but I had to get rid of it near the Israelis, because they do not look kindly at it. Where can we get food in the desert? Literary there are no shops, nor businesses around that piece of dry land probably due to security issues and bilateral agreements between the Israelis and Egyptians. We could not even buy anything from the duty free store because we were in the no man land and they cannot sell us a thing.

I asked one of the officers and told me to wait, there is a guy who can run and get us some food and drinking water. He came later one and charged us through the nose for some sterile bread and some no name corned beef can. We wanted anything, we were so hungry, we paid him what he asked for and even more. But the funny thing was when we opened the can of meet, before me and the guys even dig in, a group of aggressive cats attacked us wanted our food, and they won’t even leave when we try to signal to them to walk away. We ate what we could, and everyone was hungry still, but not much you can do, we prayed our last prayer of the day—I do not remember if we did it in a group or solo. Everyone wanted to crash for the night, we look around and collected a number of smoke boxes and used them as sheets. My mom was helpful here because she has backed me a light blanket which felt like silk because when you are stuck, anything helps to alleviate your suffering. All the guys were happy I had it, so when I woke up, there was like three guys sleeping next to me. It wasn’t weird because I expected it and we did not have enough smoke boxes. In the morning, the lady and her son were gone, the Egyptian have granted hr permission to leave due to her sickness.

We had to wait for the first bus to get on it and get back to the Israeli side to get back in the Gaza Strip. My family tried to help form their end, they went to the Egyptian embassy trying to talk them to let me into the country, but the guys at the embassy were not very helpful and told my family that I need to get back in and then get back once the paperwork has been filed plus two to four weeks wasted. Our bus came, and the older Palestinian guy bought his smoke with the help of some Egyptian officers whom got a slice of the pie. He loaded his box and kept bragging to us about how clever he is, in fact he said he would help me to get my own box of smokes, I was tempted, but never done it because I was too chicken to get into this shady business.

We got back on the bus and head to the Israeli side, it has not changed since the day before, same machines, probably same officers…etc. this time I was not interviewed by the Israelis, they let me off the hook. They did however interview the mechanic guy whose family has been involved in some resistance activities. Once the Israelis cleared us to go back, we got on the bus, but before I think I walked into an café for Israeli officers, they gave me an awkward look, I took that to mean “get out of here” which I did. Ia minute later an Israeli female officers came and yelled at the bus driver for not controlling us. By that time of august, the borders were not very busy because most Palestinians who live abroad have already returned to where they work or where they go to school, so we did not have to wait for hours.

Once we arrived to the Palestinian side, they took our passports and I was determined not to be interviewed by the security guys and not to be taken advantage of by a taxi driver. Fortunately, the Palestinians gave me my passports and no need for interview me. The word on the street that the checkpoint of abu holly was closed and we have to wait for half a day or even longer. I got in a taxi for 10 shekels about two dollars, the taxi will drive me to the checkpoint and leave me there till the checkpoint opens. Actually, that was a great deal because if I took a cabbie to drive me home, he would want to charge me for half day work. We arrived to the checkpoint and there was craven of cars and trucks waiting to be let in. I took my stuff out put it to the side of the road, I was starving by then, we took a corner of the street me, the older guy, and the mechanic who joined us later. As we sat others came and joined our circle including a farmer of the southern Gaza city who is going to drop his produce up north to jabalya the biggest market in Gaza Strip, it also happen to be the largest refugee camp in Palestine. To tell you the truth there was a lot of tea, coffee, cold drinks and snacks sold to people as they wait for the checkpoint to open. Politics was all what these guys talked about, who is better, worse? What will happen once the Israelis disengage? I listened more than I spoke. Tried to find a driver who would rive me home, found one who wanted eight dollars but he seems not to know where I was going, I did not want to go with him. Hours later about 8 hours later the checkpoint opens or people got sick of waiting and started moving. I found a taxi driver who would take 10 shekels and drive me to Gaza City, a 30 minutes drive. It was getting late already, I got in the taxi and paid my toll, the drive was safe no problems, got o Gaza City at 9 PM, and looked for a taxi that will take me to my town Biet Lahia , it took a while but I found a driver who was going north, charged me 2 shekels (.50 cents). Remember I was carrying my two bags with me all the way from one side of the city to the other, they were heavy, but I did not mind. The driver dropped my on the main street, about 10 minutes walk to my house. I toughened up and got ready to lift my odd shaped language. Once, I arrived to my street, my parents were standing outside waiting for me. They were so relived to see me back and feeling back for my trouble. I was happy to see them too because they will make me a nice meal, but I was also worried about getting back to the house where my newly wed brother might find it awkward that I was in the house. He has just gotten married four days ago and they were staying in our large house. But sure it was awkward because his wife did not know me and I have been corrupted by Godless America (that is a joke)

Now, I am back and I had to arrange a way to get back to the United States from Gaza

My younger brother was just married two days prior to my first attempt to depart the Gaza Strip to get to the US. I had a number of concerns that kept bogging me as I was planning this trip:

• Will the Israelis allow me out of Gaza again, they have permitted me once, and can I still use the same permit.
• How long will it get the Egyptians to get me a visa to enter their land? I did not have weeks, school starts in days.
• My ticket was to leave from Cairo on August 25th, and now it was 21st of August. After all it was with Russian airlines (Aeroflot) the only customer service number I can find for them is in Russia and a voice mail in New York.

Some family and friends stated blaming each other for this problem, my dad says “Your mom should never have insisted on you coming back, now you are trapped here with all of us” My mom was mad at the Egyptians for not allowing me into the country when the Israelis did. In a way my mom was happy that I am back so she can have me around—easier for here then to plot in the dark my marriage. But to be honest I do not blame the Egyptians, I do blame the lack of information and vague instructions. I was really mad, because that will cause further delays, and money to buy a new airline ticket and border fees.

Now, I did not have a game plan. But when you got a large family as I do, you come to appreciate that. My older brother who manages to befriend all sorts of odd people has come to work miracles. He contacted a cousin of mine, Sameeh who is a leader of the Alqsa Brigade military wing (till this moment Sameh makes the news on daily basis) to ask him what he can do, since he has great contacts with the intelligence community and just about everyone in the government. Sameh was really upset that I left the US to come visit—he has great respect for American and the West. Sameh actually trained in many places including Virginia, US. He was featured on Skynews the other day and my roommates loved his pictures with guns. What Sameeh did for me, I cannot thank him enough for. He called his guys and check with them and it turn out that we got people. Here is what happened

• Sameh asked me for some paperwork (letter of admittance to school, passport, I-20 form)
• His friends made copies and went to the local Fateh office—this is the party of the current president of Palestine—issued a letter of recommendation addressed to some big shot in the intelligence office in Gaza.
• The letter in short said “Hani is a good guy and he is our boy, he needs help to get to Egypt where he will need go to the American embassy to issue him a visa”
• I have also kept in touch with the office of Civil Affairs to figure out if the Israelis will let me out again on the same permit.
• Things were looking good and two days later I was told that my tanseeq paperwork is done and I got to hit the road again in my way to “Freedom” by freedom I mean fast net.
• Sameh Informed me that he will shoot in my leg next time I come back to this crappy place, he was serious and was mad, but he was a great help, so he could say anything he wanted. I knew he has the guns and the guts to do it.

On the same day I heard the news, my brother called the same lousy cabbie that took me in the first time, some of my family came to our house to see me off…again. My mom did not cry much this time; she might have thought I will be back home soon. Same thing happens, I get to the borders, the Egyptian side was closed, few hours later the open the door and take our passports, send it to the Israelis for clearance. I prayed that the Israelis will not send me back this time. They did not! Before, I boarded the taxi, I ran into Hossam, the kid who was going to Russia and had the same problem as I did. So it was nice to see familiar face in the crowd. We chatted for a long time, and it was a great company. When we both were cleared we got in taxies, took of my belt and went through the same sophisticated security machines and all went smoothly. This time we were on the road to the Egyptians with a boast of confidence, after all me and Hossam were bragging about how connected we were.

We arrived to the Egyptian side, and everyone chased to get through the traffic and hand in their passports. The Egyptians asked us when was our tanseeq paperwork was done, gave them the date and they asked us where we were going. Hossam said, “I am going to Russia” “via Egypt” he added. I said to the officer “I am going to Cairo” “My paperwork was done yesterday” he thanked me and ask us to wait. As we were waiting the Egyptian officers who tried to help Hossam earlier saw him and said he will help us get out stuff sooner. Hossam seemed to like the guy, but little did he know, the guy cannot do much. In fact, we did not need him we were good to go. Anyhow, the officer went in there and got us our passports with a stamp of valid for 7 days (it was our visa, I guess) Hossam if I recall correctly gave the officer about 25 Egyptian pounds (roughly 5 dollars), he snuck it to him in the passport in the bathroom.

I called my family and told them the good news that I will be heading to Egypt and everything is kosher or Halal as we would say in Arabic. My family was so relived that it has worked out this time. We paid our entrance fees roughly 35 dollars. We head it for the gate, me and my boy Hossam. The Egyptians let us out of the door and had us go through some routine security and examining our passports.

At that point, I was so happy that I am now in Egypt, a country I feel I know from all the movies we watch, pretty much the same familiarity people have with cities where Hollywood studios shoot.

Now, the cabbies all wanted to take us, different cars, vans, trucks and all have a quote, many guys want to sell us phone chips, food…etc. but we went for the taxi who would take us from Rafah, the border town to Cairo, about 6 hours drive. He charged us something like $10 for the ride, which seemed like a good deal. We loaded our bags and we got in the taxi that was in a bad shape, but who cares. There were 4-5 other riders in the taxi, an older woman who covered here mouth and had her daughter with her, two other quite.

Hossam and I were engaged in conversation, when this lady won’t shut up. I thought covering her mouth with make her more modest, but little did I know. First she wanted to play her music, and then she started passing fresh figs, which we did not eat. She got mad at us and said not so nice things. And her finally act was she wanted us to go to this restaurant Yamani she said he sells fresh seafood, I was willing to try it, but then when we found the place, me and Hossam decided not to buy food with these folks, again the lady got mad at us. So we bough snacks and we seem to do fine. Hours later we make it to Egypt and the taxi driver drops the talkative lady with her daughter in some shady neighborhood, she was trouble all around. The driver volunteered to find us a hotel for the night, both I and Hossam had to go to a hotel because we have to wait. I did have some in laws of my extended family living in Cairo, my mom wanted me to look them up, I did not till later.

Now the driver took us to this hotel in the old city of Cairo. It charged $30 a night for double bedroom. I thought it was a good deal. I gave the guy some bills, he did not give my change back, so I figured what this is guy is about, I changed the rules of the game, I would give him the exact change and I want to give him something, I would add it. We check in and were shocked by our rooms, there were not as good as I thought they would be, but did not whine much about it. I have learned that the driver who dropped us at the hotel, has asked for a kick back which he had received.

We were both tired and hungry, which promoted us to go downstairs and buy some snacks, we could not find anything nearby. The hotel was by Nadi Al Shams some old and large sport club. I was impressed by Egypt’s size and its security forced all over the road, they have stopped us all along the road and even near the bridges—where some kids tried to sell us some merchandise. WE crashed for the night after watching some TV, I liked the music channel, it kept me up for a while, but both of us were tired.


We woke up around 7 AM and took care of business and got ready for a very long day in a strange place. We were told that the hotel serves a complementary breakfast. Me and Hossam went down to the lobby’s restaurant and showed them the key, they gave us a plate with bread, an egg, jam, butter and a small bowel of foul a common Egyptian/ Arab breakfast made of beans. I love this stuff, but the way they serve it in Egypt is more liquidy and olive oil was not provided. We ate our breakfast and drank our sodas and thanked the waiter, left him couple of Egyptian pounds and went out to get a taxi.

There was a taxi driver at the door waiting to find some tourist to rip off, he did not let us walk away from him, he asked for about 50 Egyptian pounds to drive us to Midan El Ta7reer, this is where all important government and foreign business in Egypt takes place. Hossam said if we talk a block away form the hotel, we will get a cheaper ride, he seems to know his way around, so we did walk a block away and found a cabbie who ask us “how much do you want to pay for the ride?” it was a strange question, but we told him something along the lines of 20 Egyptian pounds, he said 40 Egyptian pounds, we got in and paid him 35 Egyptian pounds, he was happy, we were thrifty.

I loved the streets in Egypt, we saw some many squares and historical monuments along the way, it was a large city, there were huge ad billboard everywhere, selling movies, shampoo, soft drinks and even some political billboards (the time we were there was a week away from Egypt holding its presidential election) It was about 25 minutes ride. I went to the embassy, the American one, and Hossam went on his way to find the Russian embassy to get his visa. We separated and agreed to meet somewhere later that day. Anyhow, there was so many security officers around the American embassy, and barricade on both ends of the street, I showed my paperwork to the officers, they check my plastic bag and let me go through.

Now, my interview with the American embassy was supposed to take place three days prior to my arrival. Obviously I did not make it because of the delays. I waited for the Egyptian American officers at the door and told them the situation, they told me I need to call the company that schedule the interviews—the US outsource this job to a third party who charges about a dollar a minute on the phone. I tired to talk them out, they would not listen. So, I went cross the street and made the call to the company and briefly explained the situation to them, they were very helpful and did their best to get me their soonest. They told me I can go there not tomorrow, but the day after tomorrow and my name would be on the list. That was the best I could do, so there was not much to do, so I went on to figure out what paperwork the American embassy would want me to fill. I went to the bank where the Americans outsource their fee collection and paid about $50 in fees, I was given an application in English and a sheet of instruction sheet in Arabic. I was told that I would need photos, and my I-20 form, my passport, and my financial statements. I got everything ready to go. The guy, who took my picture, had a little shady shop and guessed I was either form Tunisia or from Yemen, I laughed.

Later that day, I met with Hossam and went to eat in a Koshari shop called El imbratoor (Egyptian rise with lintel beans, onions, noodles and hot sauce) it was tasty and cheap. Then we went to a movie together. Hossam figured out what he needed to do and he need to go later tomorrow at 4 PM to apply for his visa. The movie was fun, I think it was with Adel Imad the most famous Egyptian actor “El safarah fil ‘Omarah” then we hit the streets of Cairo for shopping. After couple of hours, we found a taxi and we headed back to the hotel. We called it a day.

The next day, after our breakfast, we head the road and Hossam started taking care of his application and he was to go later that day to get his visa to Russia. I did not have much that day, so I just hang out and enjoy what Cairo has to offer. I think that day, we had launch at Hardee’s, and they had nice halal burgers (Kosher) As I am used to serl service, I thought this American restaurant will be the same like in America, but these guys had servants and there was no refills, which was not cool. It was a very expensive meal though, more than $4 which is a lot of money in Egypt, you would think that would stop people from buying it, no, it does not.

We went to another movie, and it was fun, but I hated the guys working in the theater, they are a rip off, everyone asks for a tip for anything, you tip like at least four individuals before you get to watch the movie. The gal that cut our ticket asked for na tip, I pretend it not to understand. The guy who put us in the cafeteria and put a gun to our head to buy overpriced food items asked for a kickback. I did not order a thing, but Hossam ordered mango juice and got me a sprite. When the bill came, he yelled “What the Heck, this is a rip off” in Arabic “Ya waradi hadul ‘hramya.” He paid and we got in the theater, the guy who gave us sin the showroom, wanted a tip and harassed us, I paid this guy. I thought that would be it, but inside, there was an usher guy who gave us seats and asked for another tip. Good thing, we did not have any girls with us, because these guys shame folks in front of their lady friends.

After the movie, we headed to the Russian embassy and Hossam got in with his paper, I sat on the door of the embassy, kicking it with the security guys who were form Southern Egypt (the kind ones) they loved talking to me, they were board to death. And the offices they were guarding did not have much threat unlike the American embassy does. At the door there was a guy selling a basic Egyptian instrument Rababah I bargained the guy and he gave me three for the price of one, yes he did. I asked the officers if they would play some on it, the officer laughed and told me give it to the other officer, he knows how. After that they got me a chair to sit and tell them stories.

Half an hour later Hossam came out and he was granted a visa and was a happy person. We left the embassy place and he had to go get an airplane ticket, so we went back to Midan el Ta7reer where there are scores of travel agencies, we shopped around for a cheap ticket to Russia, he found a guy who made us walk with him like 5 minutes where he took us to another ticket agent, who could not help us. We kept shopping till we found a travel agent who sold him a ticket for about $400. He paid and before that he had to show his passport in indicate that he has a visa to Russia. Now, Hossam was set and he had an extra day to waste in Cairo.

I still have the phone number of my distant in-laws living in suburb of Cairo; I called these guys and convenience Hossam to come along. The in-laws had kids of my age and that’s why I needed to go meet with them, these guys tried to help me in the first time when the Egyptians would not let me in my first attempt. I called in and got the directions, we took a cab and it was 15 minutes ride. They lived in a different neighborhood, middle class, not too many tourists go there, they live near Masjid ‘Amro Bin El ‘as, the first mosque to be built in Egypt, it is a huge a nice complex. We got lost for a minute, so we called again form a telecommunication office who charged us nickels for the call. When I could not get the direction, my in laws asked me to give the guy next to me the phone so he can figure out where we were. Ten minutes later, my distant in law came and took us to their house.

So now that I am in Egypt and heading for my appointment at the American embassy in Cairo for my interview, I had kind of worried that it might be a challenge to get my US visa again.

Stood in line at the door of the embassy early that morning and my name was checked in a sheet with the gate keepers, a minute later they let us in, screen us in a room with all the technologies they can use. I made it to the councral window handed in my papers, there were so many lines and lanes for all various services the embassy does. 20 minutes later they called me to different window with a number, the guy was a white male early forty, really nice guy. Asked me questions in English and made sure that I have all the paperwork and applications he can have, there were litarty more than 30 pages involved. He told me to take a seat and then called me to ask me if I have any financial statements from my dad, I said no, but I told him that my dad works for the UNRWA (a subdivision of the UN who serves the Palestinian refugees) He really insisted upon that. But I made him aware of my timeline, my earlier border troubles with Egyptians and my school has already started. He was a kind guy, he did not yell at me.

Now, I am back at my seat while he is running all sorts of background checks, and doing his data mining on me. 5 minutes later he calls me and ask me a question "Have you ever lost a passport in the United States?" I was like "oops, this guy knows something, I said no on the form because I really did not make a big deal out of it" But I remembered the incident, it happened in NYC in 2002, where I forgot my bag in a Cab coming from the JFK airport to visit a cousin along with my good friend Shadi. I told this story to the counselr guy and I said the truth and showed him the police report, I way happy that I said the truth. I almost denied that out of fear to deal with consequences.

15 minutes later he called me and said "I will issue you a visa!" I was so happy, and overwhelmed by emotions because at end my long journey to the US has not being a waste. The officer was a gracious and a kind person who really wanted to help and he did I think expdaite me application. The next day was some holiday in the US and they were not working, so he said it might take couple of days to get my visa to me. He asked me to go pay their courier about 50 Egyptian pounds so they can deliver it to my place (the hotel I was staying) I thanks the officer and let him know that I appreciated it. He probably hears it all the time so it was not a big deal, but I really was grateful.

On the same day, I called my family and told them the good news, they were happy that my trouble was not wasted for nothing. My friends back in Washington DC got a hold of my (Nawar Shora and Mary Fantaye, Kari Ann) got a hold of me and learned of the news. Kari actually, knew some many government officials all the way to Collin Powell and she was willing to make some phone calls. But there was no need.

I went to shop for an airline ticket to get back to the US, but I could not because they had to see that I have a visa first before they help me. Two days later, I got my passport and my visa back with the courier (TNT, ironic name ha!) who missed me the first time, but I got a hold of them and came back for me.

I took the passport and head back to Midan Elta'hreer to get my ticket. I started shopping around and knew, my options were narrow because of the timeline I had. British Airways and Air France insist that I get a Transfer Visa if I was to fly with their airlines, I did not have time for this. Since I was not going there, I did not understand why the need for the transfer visa.

Hours later I got a deal on the Malev airlines (Hungarian Airlines) first class ticket to JFK New York. Boy that was nice, it was to fly early morning the next day. The price could not be anymore right, for just under $1000. I took it since they did not ask for a transfer visa. I tried the Russian airlines, which my earlier ticket was with them, but it was overbooked. Once I got my ticket to JFK, I got online and looked for a ticket to Utah from JFK, and found one with JetBlue for under $300. So the whole trip was planed now. I did have one concern, I only had two hours of layover in JFK so two hours to get through with immigration, customs, officials and terminals to make it to the right terminal in JFK, it was the only option I had

The Egyptian officers spent 25 minutes trying to figure out the international code for Palestine travelers—the same thing happened in when I was flying out of Virginia, it is PSE if you are curious. Egyptian airport was way nice, I thought it would be old and dirty, but wrong I was, great airport and smooth operation.

I loved my trip, the airlines was really nice and took care of me since the first minute, they treated me to a lunge in Egypt and another one in Budapest airport, lots of food, drinks (I love the Yogurts) and they even gave me a gift for flying with them.

Immigrations officials were nice, no major worries, just couple of questions. Customs did not even open my bags, I did have two small sizes, but they did not think big deal. Security to change terminal was very personable and speedy. I made it to the right gate and had plenty of time. I was so happy that I am back in the states for real because I kept thinking that something will go wrong and I will have to go back.

Got to Utah after midnight and my buddy Jonathan picked me up and then I took him to eat on the same night, we talked and finally I made it to my apartment (I did not have keys) I woke up the new roommates to open the door for me, which the did. I slept on the coach that night, in fact I did not sleep at all because I was still impressed by how I made it to the States only a week late.
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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

July 15, 2005 Sweet Home Sweet! One

July 15, 2005 Sweet Home Sweet



So it took me nearly five years to take a chance and go back to Gaza to visit my family. I was in DC and my work permit was expiring mid May and my work wanted to keep me longer I could not legally do it and school was coming in the Fall, so I saw that I had some time that I could spare and see my family which I love and miss so much. My family has asked me every summer to go, but I could not due to complexity of the situation and the unrest which does not bother me, but getting caught in the middle disturbs me. My friends in DC and I kicked it for a long time (Joey, Kari, Kellee,) and I bought a ticket on the Russian airlines out of Virginia Dulles Airport. The Russian had a good deal for about less than $1000, a round trip ticket to Cairo International Airport. I called the Israeli embassy a week before and inquired about flying into the Tel Aviv airport, they hang up the phone on me! Was not nice, but I think they thought I was a prankster.

July 15th 2004 was a Saturday and my friends from Senegal, Ethiopia, and Bahrain decided to come to the airport with me to see me off. Getting lost in the Dulles airport is a must and part of the experience, but when I got to the register, it took them more than 20 minutes to figure out the code for Palestinian passport, they panicked and I panicked as well, I thought they would not let me fly that day. They tried to put PAL , PNA and none of them worked, finally when they called some superior they figured it out. I came to later know that it was PSE even the Egyptians airport struggled with that one. Anyways, the give me the ticket and take my language and I see my friends off, I go into one of these giagantic trucks that moves travelers from a gate to a bus and the bus takes you to the airplane. But before then, the immigration guys took I-94 form from my passport and give me back my passport. I get in the airplane and I release I am in a foreign country already, English is not spoken and if spoken it is spoken in a very strange manner. Anyhow, the flight was headed to Moscow and the crew was very helpful and there was several meals and refreshments served. A day before my friend Kari Ann bought me the Thomas Friedman’s book “The World is Flat” a very entertaining book with many new concepts. I get to Moscow and man I started to notice the changes already, different languages, people from all over the planet, 10 years back in technology, everything is overpriced, but smoke—my dad instructed me to buy him some cigarettes something I did not want to do. I did not know how much I appreciated life in the US till I go there, but people were nice, granted music and movies were more expensive than in the US.

Couple of hours later we board the jet and be on our way to Egypt. But before I boarder the jet, I ran into a couple of ladies I have met back in BYU and we had mutual friends, it was fun to see how far the BYU connection can go, we actually even sat near each other on the jet. They were going to visit Janice, a mutual friend of ours from Michigan, she was studying Arabic there. Couple of hours later, we are in Cairo and getting our language together, I could feel the change again there, people look like me and speak my native tongue, but I was not adjusted, I was still thinking in English and speaking it in to people who do not necessarily understand it. My good American friends—by now we are good friends—they wanted to wait for me so we can share a cab, but I wished things worked this way for us. I knew their American passport can get them very far, but mine cannot get me anywhere. So I told them to go ahead and leave without me and I will catch up with them later—was call on my part. So the border’s officer sees my passport and tell me to stand aside, I did. A minute later some uniformed officer comes and tell me to grab my stuff and follow him. They take me to this dark room and looks really old and has a funky smell to it. There were a grouped of four uniformed officers enjoying their dinner, I was told to take a seat and wait. Which I did, there was a Sudanese gentleman was sitting next to me, very fun guy who worked in the gulf and wanted to take care of business before he heads home. He told me about a security officer who will call me in a minute and ask me questions and wants to see my paper. The Sudanese man told me to “bribe” the officer in fact he gave me Egyptian money to do it—I only had Dollars with me. I thought from the movies this is a common practice in Egypt in the rest of the world. The officer called me in, he was a young hot shot who did not have a uniform, asked for my papers and I shoed him what I had and told him I have an appointment in the American embassy in the morning that I needed to go to. He was really nice person; he called his superior to ask his opinion on what to do with me. The last thing was for me to give this guy a bribe, I chickened out and I did not do it. The officer asked me questions and basic things then 20 minutes later he told me that I got to go to the deportation room, a room where they put the world rejects to deport them or escort them to other ports so they can get the heck out of Egypt. He said some odd comment as I was leaving “You and the Jews are cousins, you are one family and they should take care of you” I was not sure what he meant, but I thanked the officer and went to the room in a bus, where they guy harassed me about giving him a tip which I did. But before I can leave the airport, there was a more senior officer with many stars on his shoulder told me “and take care of me too, I want to live” “E7nah 3awzeen ni3eesh Kaman” I said sure, and walked away.

Finally, I get to the room where all my home boys are placed and there are two police officers with big books guarding them. There was no one in the room but Palestinians young and old male and female. I was so happy to see my home boys and so many of them, these guys received me and talked to me, asked me questions about my family and my background, they told me to shave my beard for my mom. They got me some tea—Ido not think the honor code was in affect then; I was not yet a student of BYU and send a runner to get us some food, he stole our money, but got us a sandwich or two for a lot of $$$...I had my camcorder with me and filmed the room and the nasty bathrooms in there, I even interviewed some of these guys for fun. They news from home were not all great, but the Israelis were. So I was in the room by 5 AM and the bus that will take us to Rafah cross the Sinai comes three hours later. So after handing the officers with cigarettes and handing out cigarettes to some no ones that I needed nothing from, more security guys come and ask us to drag our stuff and follow them. These guys were not nice, they were demeaning and rude, some of out hot blooded Palestinians almost caught in fights with them, but good thing we had older people who were peacemakers.

We go through customers and these guys open out bags and play with the contents like they know what they are doing then they ask me, if I had any electronics on me, “Yes, I do have the camcorder!” he tell me to fetch it and then I panicked, I thought he would check out the content of the tape and then get me in trouble for filming the nasty bathrooms. But he did not; he simply just wrote that I had a camera on my passport so the guys at the other end of the borders will make sure I still have it with me and not just drop it in the way to some Egyptian dude. Minutes later we were on our way on a good condition bus, the driver an armed security officer were to accompany us all they way from Cairo to the Rafah borders. They charged us an arm and a leg for the ride and they took us to shop in places that took advantage of us so they can get a kick back. For example water bottles in Egypt are about .25 US cents, but the place he took us to was about $1.5, as much as I tried to bargain with this guy he would not let down. I also could not go very far because these guys have my passport.

During the ride, I could not help but notice the many security check points we had to go through and the number of military police spread all over the place in the streets and on the roads. I think it was six hours later, we made it to the Egyptian borders and there were huge lines there, was very chaotic and so many boys running around slamming you with all sorts of tickets and fees that you are to pay to them, some shady stuff, but if you travel on this road many times, you get the idea. Anyhow, the Egyptians custom agents check my language, go through it and look at my walkie talkies and ask me about them, the handle of my bag breaks and it became harder to carry it, but once the custom guys cleared me, I was to load my stuff into a new bus that will take me to the Israelis. Before I do that, I tracked the guy who signs off on my passport that he checked the camcorder, I found him and he singed it for me, he had no uniform on which was confusing.

Right where the Egyptian borders, there are shops selling cheap merchandise like smoke, cheeses, and some other things, many Palestinians use and abuse these cheap products and make huge profits by just carrying it through the borders to sell it for four to six times as much. Before we left there was many fees we were to pay to the good people of Egypt about 180 Egyptian pounds to get departure permission, once you do that, you load up everyone in a crappy bus and head to the Israeli side which is a very interesting experience.

So, twenty minutes later, we get to the Israeli side of the Rafah Borders, it was much nicer than what I have seen so far, and much more sophisticated and armed. There were so many armed officers who look ready to shoot t any given point. They looked tense and prepared in their green uniforms and large guns. In the bus all the men and boys were standing and the ladies were sitting, the bus was crowded, people want to get home and get to the Israelis before they closet their side—if one misses they would have to sleep on the borders for the night, where no services or anything provided. We start unloading the buses at that point it was in the afternoon around 3-4 PM, before we go into the same building where the Israeli border guys check us in, we had to go through some sophisticated technology that resembles an MRI machine, only standing and one goes in there for about 30 seconds and there are instructions on how to do it properly, during that time the Israeli officers are watching you inside the machine and another one only few feet away with a gun in an aim position. All men had to go in the MRI machine, most women had to go there, but sometimes they will send the pregnant women to another machine. I go through clean and get into the office, the agents collect our passports and ask us to wait in a waiting area, and there were chairs and air conditioning, it was a nice setting. Most people will be called in about five minutes and they go through security and collect their belongings and go to the other side and load their language and get ready to get to the Palestinian side. I waited for five, ten, fifteen, twenty, half hours and bit more then three officers in civilian clothing come—two males and a female. They spoke to me in English “Are you tired” They asked. “No, but you know, long trip” I replied. Then he said “where you coming from” “US, Moscow, Cairo” I said at that point he started touching me in the stomach area like he was looking for weapons or whatever. Then, they took me into a room inside and asked me to put all my stuff in the box and take out my shirt, I did do all that, an officer came and run a machine on me and then told me to wait, another officer who spoke in Arabic—but he was not an Arab told me to come to a room with him. In the room there was another officer on a computer and greeted me. They both started talking to me. They asked me the basis questions: “where have you been?” “how was the trip?” What did I do in America? Who are my friends? Who paid for my school—thanks to BYU, that was an answer that helped a lot. I answered all their questions and the conversation was so casual that we talked about an Israeli pop artists and one of the officers went back and got me a poster with her asking me “do you still think she is hot?” Do not get me wrong these guys were professional and asked the real questions, and even gave me love advice on who to marry and what to do with my life. He offered me a bottle of Sprite half empty, I declined. But the other officers he was an Argentine Jew, so we spoke in Spanish, he liked that. I told the officer that I needed help to get out of the Gaza Strip, he said that will take forever and I need to file with some administrative agency and because of my young age this will take some time. They also asked about a family member who has the same name as mine, I said I have no idea who was this guy, but we offred to call my mom and ask her for that guy’s info, but they said there was no need. After 15 minutes I was done, they cleared me to go, I went out picked my language and went to the bus that takes us to the Palestinian side, I was so relieved when I left the Israeli side, I really felt that they will keep me or something. The bus was crowded and the Palestinian guys opened the border gate and let us in, as we were unloading our belongings, the Palestinian officers came and collected out passports and asked us to go about a block to get them. A taxi driver grabbed me and told me he will get me my passport for me and drive me home, he told me it will cost me about $35 to get me home, I bargained, but could not get much—it was a rip-off though. I went with him and the officers from the National Security or the Preventative Force handed me my passport and asked, if the Israelis have talked to me, I said “Yes, they did” at that point, he called another guy and asked me to go in for an interview. I was not surprised, the Egyptians met me, the Israelis interviewed me and the Palestinians have to do that as well. The interview had the same questions, who pays for my college? And if the Israelis have offered me any sort of help. I said no, no such thing and I said that I had a scholarship that pays lots of money. The driver was yelling at me to get back so we can get to the check point before they close, we had about an hour drive to get to my town. The security officer asked me if I pray, which was an odd question. The fact that I told him about going to a Christian school confused him. When my answer was “alhamdulilah” praise the lord, which means a humble yes. He let me off the hook. I was now done which security clearances for one day, and was getting ready to surprise my family who did not know of my visit—just ideas, nothing solid.

I discovered that there is a new check point “Abu Hooli” which could give us a wait of hours and maybe days, this check point borders an Israeli settlement and Israeli soldiers have killed many there, some Palestinian have actually done some damage there to the Israelis. And there is a new street that the Israelis bulldozed so the cars cannot go from the North to the South or the other way around. All these things were not mentioned to me by the driver who said “Bawaslak la bab elbeet” I will take you to the house door, but he did not intend to do that he deceived me and I did not know better. Anyway, we got to the checkpoint and there was a long caravan of cars waiting to be allowed in, there was a bunch of Palestinian capitalists are taking advantage of this bad situation by selling tea, coffee, nuts….etc. we waited for about half an hour, people started slightly moving forward and our driver moved forward too, the Israelis are yelling at the people not to move forward, fired guns at them, but it looked that people were sick of waiting and decided to cross the checkpoint which we did, we were luck that our car was surrounded by tow huge tomato trucks so if the Israelis shot we will be safe. We made it out of that area and 15 minutes on the road, we heard that a 15 year old kid was killed at the same checkpoint, he was from almasri family.

About 30 minutes way from home, the cocky driver, who was rushing things, got us in a CAR ACCIDENT with another car. I was shocked and could not talk at that point. I literary had to jump from my seat to avoid hurting my legs—I was sitting in the front seat. People started gathering near the car asking me about what happened. I said nothing I was like, I spend five years in the US and I could have died in a car accident 30 minutes away from home. It was ironic, and I was mad at the situation, both drivers and the crappy roads. So the driver asked for the money and arrange for another car to drive me to the next point, where the street has been bulldozed where I switch cars. The new driver asked me about the accident, I did not want to talk about it, but there was a guy with a beard in the taxi with us, he was from jabalyah camp, the closest to home, so he helped me move my stuff from the taxi when we switched and I invited home to share the taxi with me where I pay for both of us—I was paying the same amount anyways. In the way, they started talking politics, he was mad at the US and the war in Iraq, US support to Israel and the list gets bigger. I kept my conversation short, now my hear is jumping from my body, it is already home. I was thinking about going back to the old streets, and the places where I grew up. Things changes to the worse from what I can see, the streets have more graffiti and guns are everywhere, roads are damaged—what do you expect from a five year intifadah? I barely could recognize my street, but I did and three minutes I was at the door of my house, I could not believe it, it was so surreal, some of the neighbor kids came to the car, but I did not want them to ruins the surprise, I ran as fast as I could to see my family and surprise them. And the taxi started unloading my two bags. I knock the door and my sister in law—I did not know her by then and have not met her before opens the door. I asked if my mom was there, and she was and walk into the room or the kitchen and there she was, she could not believe it, she was crying, laughing smiling, she was overwhelmed with emotions. She was so happy and so was I. and everyone started coming to our house, news spread fast courtesy of my countless nephews and nieces, an hour later, our house was like a small town. My brothers and sisters have grown up, some were much bigger and taller than I recall, my dad closed the shop early and joined us, he also was overwhelmed and proud that I could come and surprise them in this fashion. He looked a bit older, but his hair was in its place. My sisters all have small armies of kids enough to start a third intifadah. It was one of the greats feelings I have experience in my life. The only bad part about this trip was the fact that my mom got sick for a week because the surprise shocked her. Next time I will give them enough time notice. Perhaps the fact that I was lucky in my travel, pretty much everything worked out for me, borders were opend and my way was clear, did not have to stay weeks on the borders like others who had to go through this humiliation.


To be continued…..
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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Humor Section

My first standup gig was back in 2001 in a LDS ward talent show, my roommate who would not allow me to play music on Sunday—that’s my own Arabic music—asked me if I would do something for the ward talent show, I guess that was a way he could include my in the ward activities. But I really do not have any talents to speak of; he thought I can tell jokes. Actually he was not the first person to tell me about this, it was my friend Jesse Nix from Texas he thought I should do standup. I did not take him seriously, because back then I was still learning English.

Anyhow, I wrote some lines for the talent show and showed up, I had a good response, people laughed out of sympathy, I think. I jokes about Provo, Utah and about the large numbers of Book of Mormons I was offered. I later got involved with various clubs on campus in which I would perform and deliver some lines, I was involved with the student group on campus (BYUSA) and that was fun. I did audition to the biggest comedy club on campus Divine Comedy in 2003 and in 2006 and in both times I got great response and helpful feedback. I never qualified for the Divine Comedy club because I was told that I got no mentionable musical talents—they do sketches in the Divine Comedy and whole bunch of Dorky Mormon comedy. In 2004, I have performed in George Washington University—Washington DC to large crowd of 200 gathering for an Eid dinner. I was there with a number of my Mormon friends—the evening was open to all, they dared me to get up and deliver some of my lines, which I did and I think the Mormons were the only ones laughing. The Muslim audience who were in attendance laughed, but not as hard as my Mormon buddies. A month later, there was an interfaith dinner between the Mormons and the Muslims in BYU Barlow center in Foggy Bottom in Washington DC, I was invited to perform that evening, they were more than 100 people in attendance, I was not prepared , but I did better that evening because both Mormons and Muslims enjoyed an equal amount of laughs.

I have also performed in 2005 and 2006 in a sold out talent show for my graduate program at BYU with audience of 150 in attendance, I try to introduce new material in every time I get on the stage, but since most of my audience have been members of the LDS Church, they seem to enjoy my puking fun of members and attitudes in the church—people in Utah enjoy a great sense of humor for which I am grateful

But more recently I joined a comedy club on campus called HumorU, an exclusive stand up club with a great cast and funny people both proper and improper styles for BYU. I did a show a number of sold out shows with them, and I had great fun with the audience and the cast. I like Stand up better, because the person with the microphone is the only responsible person for the lines and the jokes, if jokes suck, it is his fault, not the audience’s fault like in the other forms, which puts a little bit of pressure on the performer to make their jokes better. The club members strive to be BYU proper because of the sensitive audience on campus, first night of the show some comedians went off script and tested new materials that might have offended some of the audience, although, there was no hacklers or people who left the show, the club censored some of its members. As part of the comedy group on campus, yesterday I had my first standup gig where people have actually paid to see us. I was nervous a bit, but I had a great support of my friends and my cast members, it was fun, jokes were funny, people were laughed there were very few if any boos. I am grateful that HumorU have invited me to take part of this fun event. We have another show tonight and it will be as good, thanks for the audience support our shows are all sold out.

I came to realize that there is always ways to make a joke better and funnier, the more one tells the joke the better is gets and the better the response from audience. In telling a joke, I found English to be both an asset and a liability. People enjoy foreign accent that is not so thick, but different. English sometimes betrays me when I want to deliver the bunch line, but so far this has not been a major setback, in fact when I screw up a line people laugh harder not at the joke, but at me.


Ladies and gentlemen, I am an Arab at BYU and I love it here. I love all you big, fat, obnoxious Americans. But I get tired of saying the same thing over and over, so I would like to clear up some common questions I get asked every day.

Are you a terrorist?

No.

Were you joking about being a terrorist?

No.

Seriously, if you were a terrorist, you’d tell me right?

Yes.

Do you like fried chicken and destroying America?

No.

How about just fried chicken?

Yes.

Are you planning on stealing our beautiful women?

Yes. Two words ladies; Oil Money. Who do you think gets that $3.00 a gallon you’re paying? Stupid Yankee Devils.

And yes, I’m Moslem. There are a lot of similarities between Moslems and Mormons. I have Mohammed, you have Joseph Smith. I have the Koran, you have the Book of Mormon. I’m going to Heaven, you’re…not.

All I’m saying is if you want to change, I can send over two representatives who can totally change your life.

But sometimes it’s hard being a Moslem at a Mormon school. But whenever I’m feeling like I don’t really fit in, I just go watch the medieval club, and suddenly I feel much better about myself. And I always wonder, if they really did find themselves back in medieval times, would they start a Stone Age club? I’d ask them, but they frighten me. I mean there guys look like Crusaders and I do look like an infidel to them.

I have more material, but some of it’s a little Anti-American and I’m afraid President Bush will declare war on me. How do you like that joke, College Republicans?!? PLO POWER!

I think that the two most violent games in America are the two games that are exclusively white, try Hockey, and NASCAR. I do not know about you, but when someone beats someone and corners them back home, this is against the law, but in Hockey I learned that it is not against the rules to be "violent" Sure is. NASCAR is another dominantly white game, and crashes are crazy.

People back home get shot and suffer violence, people here as well get shot, the only difference is people here get shot over a PlayStation...3 or was is over a Wii?

I like swimming, I do enjoy it occasionally to hit the pool with my American buddies, but it really hurts to see my American friends beating me to the pool and being ahead of me while I am stopping in the middle of the pool to catch my breath while my American buddies are just non-stop cruising the pool. But I cam to realize that it is simple physics why Americans are much better swimmers, they are FULL OF GAS, and therefore they simply float!!! Darn it, the while freaking country runs on GAS.

Anyone likes to go to the laser tag place and enjoy a fun game of laser shooting? (to all those who raised their hands) Yeah, I am glad you are hearing today because I also meet a bunch of rejects and losers over there. So I guy and play in the regulars’ night and look at these rejects and wonder how American ever became the great nation it is? So these guys give me a gun and trained me to use it, I thought this would be the only time they would trust an ARAB with a gun! Man, these guys sure make me feel home, I feel like I am in A FREAKING WAR ZONE. Anyhow, my first night with these guys, I got killed so many times, literary I charge my gun and just walk out and someone will snipe me. I mean things were really bad, that the theme of the evening was “Come Shoot an ARAB” I mean it was really bad....it could be much worse, I could have invited my Mexican freinds, then it will all trun to become a MINUTEMAN PROJECT.

So this summer, I worked as a security for a big event in Provo, Utah—Stadium of Fire—it was fun for me, I enjoyed checking bags and asking people to be searched. Yeah, I want to take my revenge on the Americans this time, I get to check them. “Yeah you, the blond, you are a security threat to America” “I have to check your bag” Isn’t America a great place? Man, I testify that i have not seen a single bag without "the essentials" which i came to later know as
"Advil, Exedern, Aspirins, Tylenol", there are so many SICK people out there, which is cool I mean, back home we do not carry these things with us becasue we do not have them to to start with. So couple of hours later, some tall guy walks to me and says: “Hey Buddy, have you seen any ARABS around here?” I was like what? But then I held back for a minute..... and shot back “No Señor, no hablo Inglés” “No hay Moros en la costa!!!”

So I was dining in a fine restaurant the other day—I do not do this very often unless someone else is picking the tab—and this waitress comes and greets us, but we are in Utah here and people are nothing short of friendly, so I learn that she is from Israel and she learns that I am a Palestinian. She was not thrilled by learning my background, and asked me if I needed the food “to stay” or “to go” I was like you know what “My family tried the to go option and they do not seem to have done well, I am going to opt to the stay option—this refers to the refuges, there were who evacuated and those who stayed who lead a better life for the most part.

Isn’t great that we live in a country that people are so lazy to shop outside, and just buy things they see on TV? I mean this infomercials and commercials are so effective and they can get you to buy anything. Call now to get this crap, but if you call within 10 seconds will load crap up. I mean I just find myself reaching for the phone and dialing their number. “Call NOW keeps ringing in my head. Man, these guys got to buy a country album “Going South” and I am a Palestinian. You know what they got me to also buy, a coffee machine. But the thing is I do not like coffee and I also I attend BYU where we are not supposed to drink tea or coffee. I am telling you people these guys are good, I wonder what I will buy next? A Confederate flag?

After 9/11 many things changed especially in airports where I feel I am on first basis with the security guys TSA and thus. They receive me at the door of the airport and know me well; they even know my favorite soda. In the airport, it is the only time I feel that I have to impersonate American accent and be on my best behavior. It is amazing how far a clean shave can take you in the airport. I flew first class the other day with a major carrier. Yeah, first class, NICE all you can drink is free and you can be as butt hole as you want and no one will tell you a thing. But you know I will NEVER fly first class again, not in my LIFETIME. They gave me seat number one, BOY this was a curse, I was so SCARED to sit there, I mean literary the cockpit is LITERARY inches away from me. I even was scared to go to the freaking BATHROOM because the BATHROOM door was side by side to the cockpit and I am TALL and DARK, even if I tired to SMILE, people are still tense. But I could not hold it any longer and we were in our way to DC—about 4.5 hours long—I went to the bathroom and was careful to open the right door and the OTHER DOOR. I noticed signs of discomfort in the eyes of passengers on the same flight, as much as they tried to smile, I was like sure “I would scare myself, I am feeling GUILTY already. I made sure to make my stop in the bathroom as brief as possible. But once I walked out of the bathroom, I found the whole crew waiting anxiously for me by the door and surround me with LOVE and Smiles. Man, it was INTENSE, but nothing happened as far as I know.

Another airport story, I am not sure if many had to go through this, but whenever I go to the airport, these guys will always put an SSS code on my ticket and send me to another place for clearance. So I am thinking what the SSS could mean, let’s see SUNNI, SHIITE, SUFI, sacrificial, suicidal, sacrilegious, single, stupid, snappy, sloppy, soapy, shady, sabotage, Semite, safety, security, salacious, Smokey, stinky, sand ninja, Saudi, sarcastic, Satanic, Scum, Scandalous, Scary, scanty, scoundrel, scruffy, saboteur, second class, secret-operative, Sad, Sadr boy, Senile, senseless, sentimental, sentinel, shaggy, shrewd, slippery, sissy, Saddam, sleazy, sneaky, smelly, smuggler, solider, spineless, spooky, splinter cell, spy, socialist, standoffish, stinger, stingy, strafe, strafe…any thoughts? I do not know about you, but none of these words have a positive connotation in the United States at least.

I thought it was great to attend a four year old college and can invent your OWN country and tell people you are from there and having them say that they have been to that place. So I invented a country called Hanistan where I am KING. That is not the fun part, the funny thing was when I had someone that he actually went through Hanistan in his way to BRAZIL, I was thinking that Hanistan would be somewhere in Central Asia, but Brazil sounds nice. I had another lady that told me she was in Jordan last summer but because of security risks, their trip to Hanistan was cancelled, no she was not joking either she was SERIOUS.

Marriage Survey:

This is a fun survey I have put together for fun, I mean no disrespect to my culture, my religion or any individual or a group. As it goes in the Arab culture, dating is not a big deal over there, and people do not get to know their significant other informally before they commit. So I thought I need to create “tools” to help me cheat the system. One of these tools is this survey. This survey will be handed by my mom to the ladies that are possibly to be my wife.

How old are you?

18
19
20
21

On a Scale of 1 to 10

How much do you hate America? 1 I hate America as much as I hate Peanut butter 10 I hate America as much I hate Michael Bolton?

On the same, scale How wicked do you think America is, one is least wicked 10 America is the great Satan

How much of a wife’s time need to be spend in the kitchen?

90% or less
94% or less
96% or less
98% of more

On the 1 to 10 scale how of a good cook are you? 1, I cannot cook worth a nickel, 10 I can cook like George Foreman

How much money does your father have?

A lot of it
Stacked
Extremely Wealthy
Does not know what do with money

How Many Kids do you want to have?

7 or more
8 or more
9 or more
10 or more

Bottom Line, Do you also want a career?

Yes
No

What is your weapon of Choice ?

AK-47
UZI
M-16
Bazooka

What percentage of your money is spent on clothes?

1%
2%
2%
90% or more

Define Chocolate:

Sweet Dark thing
Tasty Desert
Soul Food
Women’s best friend

Did you major in any of the following majors:

Social science
Children Education
Family Therapy
Dance

Where would you want to go on a honeymoon?

Pakistan/Afghanistan borders
Baghdad
Somalia
Darfur

What did you get for Christmas?
(Trick question, Muslims do not celebrate Christmas)

Checkout my Stand uP Comedy group for jokes, videos and more at: http://www.humoru.org/
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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Movie Treatment


Dad I am tired of feeling like we deserve to be afraid.

Is it violence that

I know that I shouldn’t, but I cannot control what I feel. My heart beats steady, but calm at your side. It is the only time I feel safe.

PRELUDE:

BOY: I am missing something. It is deep and important but I have never known it and so can’t describe it. Many say we lack freedom, my friends say, “I need something to keep me busy,” my father says, “it is our land that is missing;” my mom says, “it is peace.” I don’t think that’s all it is. This is my world. We Palestinians come to this world in a town in which we live, we grow up, we throw the first stone, and in the same town we also die.

An open market in downtown Jerusalem, in the Western part of that holy city where Israelis do their shopping, a young Israeli girl comes as a usual face, a face lost in the crowd. Fully westernized looking and dressed, she looked like any American girl in the beginning of her twenties. She was wandering in the shops she was not looking for something in Particular while thinking.

GIRL: It is good to be back in Israel. I love this place. (She sees the little girl and smiles at her, the little girl smiles back missing a tooth) I love this city. (then a figure walks across the little girl’s image and takes her hand to walk away. GIRL looks up the figure to see a woman wearing a shroud and looking at her with a hesitant and protective look. GIRL receives the look and loses her smile thinking,) I just wish it didn’t scare me so much (then she looks at the people around her)

OPENING SCENE:

CHILD1: So What did you do?

CHILD2: I was so scared, I had never been chosen by a guard before I started to shake.

LILBROTHER: He must have known there was something wrong, you are never supposed to act nervous. You are only supposed to act like you don’t know how to talk.

CHILD2: He did know, and he began questioning me. But, I was strong. Finally, he decided that I was OK, and he was going to let me go, but then, he called me back and told me to go get him some tea because he was thirsty. I was so scared that I was going to do it when he told me to leave my shoes. If I wanted them back I would have to bring the tea. When I came back with the tea they were laughing and told me to put my shoes on.

CHILD1: And?

CHILD2: I put them on. But they were all wet. I didn’t say anything I just turned and started to walk home. Squish squish squish. Then the soldier yelled, “hey boy when do you think we are going to have peace and live together?” I turned around and said “ When you quit peeing in my shoes and I stop peeing in your tea”

LIL BROTHER: ehhsh (not believing it)

CHILD1: Did he shoot at you?

CHILD2: (acting tough) I was too fast.

(when a helicopter noise is heard they all perk up and watch as it flies over them.)

CHILD1: Wow it is a Huey cobra.

BOY3: You don’t know anything it is an Apache, American made. It is the best. 1857 hp, 186 miles per hour, Typical load out of 8 Hellfire and 38 Hydra 70,and a standard 30mm chain gun with optional anti-tank rounds.

CHILD1: Wow, it has missiles attached.

LILBROTHER: (Flips it off and yells something)

CHILD2: Be careful what if it sees you?

LILBROTHER: Ahh, you have to be important to get killed by one of those. In fact you have to be lucky to shot at by one of those missiles, it costs thousands of dollars to get one.

BOY1: If one of those missiles hits you even Allah will have trouble putting you back together.

BOYs: Yah, (watching it fly by, It turns on its axis at them and they all jump and look scared running off. Then a shadow is shown crossing the wall.)

BOY: (Grabbing his little brother from behind and pretending to be an Israeli by speaking Hebrew) What are you doing in this neighborhood boy? Where is your I.D. card?

lilBROTHER:Ah, what do you want to speak Hebrew for anyways? I thought you were a soldier’s bitch.

BOY: Hey, watch that tongue. You are too small for such firepower.

LilBROTHER: Yah, but

BOY: Nothing! The sun is going down, there is a giant helicopter flying around looking for you, and most importantly you are late for dinner. Say good bye to your friends (grabbing his arm and waving it for him as he leads him away)

LilBROTHER: (as they walk off he stops struggling and the walk bumping into each other as they go) Are you really going to go to a Jewish college tomorrow?

BOY: Yes, but don’t worry they don’t know that I am going as a spy.

LilBROTHER: That’s good, but are we going to see you anymore.

BOY: (Hugging his brother as they go) I am not going to die, I am just going to Jerusalem.

AT HOME:

(They enter their home where the family is throwing a party for him, they enter and he sweeps through everybody as they welcome him and do whatever Hani says they would do at this sort of a family event) Minha la eli a3la minha, from this one to higher (better) one 3okbal alshahadah alkebeerah , Hopefully you will get a higher degree erfa3 rasna, make us proud (literally, raise our heads)

FATHER P: As you all know, I love my son. I wish that he could have gone to an Islamic University, but I am very proud of his achievements. He is a symbol of my hope, and great things will be done by him, Inshallah. ..

MOTHER P: (as the father gives a long winded speech) Son, Your father will be a while, so I have something for you.

BOY: Mom this is so great I will love it.

MOTHER P: How do you know you haven’t seen it?

BOY: As long as it is not that pizza from that recipe you saw got from America, I am sure that I will like it.

MOTHER P: Quick, I think your Father is climaxing.

(They both look up and smile)

BOY: (He opens it to find a bottle of Old Spice cologne and a Koran is very impressed)

MOTHER P: It was your father’s recommendation. It is a leading brand all the way from America. It will make you a magnet for good and pretty girls (she squeezes his cheek.)

FATHER P: I know that my Son is prepared to succeed, look even now he reads from the Koran.

AT HOME W/ GIRL

FATHER I: I couldn’t wait any longer; I started to open it. Then the thought of you being disappointed…I taped it back up.

GIRL: Dad I already know that I got in.

FATHER I: How would you know that? Come here. (calling her over).

GIRL: You opened it because you didn’t want me to be disappointed if I didn’t get in. Then when you were sure I had gotten in you taped it back up and called me in to see the surprise on my face.

FATHER I: (surprised at how correct his daughter was) still, this is cause to celebrate. It means you will stay with me, no more trips to America.

GIRL: (She is silent on the issue).

FATHER I: Please be happy about this, I‘ve missed you so much since you left.

GIRL: I am Dad.

FATHER I: I noticed you didn’t buy anything today. I thought I said you were supposed to buy something from the shops.

GIRL: It was my first time back Dad, I will work up to it.

FATHER I: Good, but try to by small things (smiling).

GIRL: Mom said it would be more therapeutic if I bought really expensive things.

FATHER I: (overplaying his uneasiness) Did she? (Trying to get up) What was her number again?

GIRL: No DAD, it is still morning over there.

FATHER I: OK, OK, I’m fine.

GIRL: Thank you Dad, for working so hard to make me feel normal again.

FATHER I: You are going to love what lies ahead of you. You will get started in your classes, see old friends, and maybe even meet a good boy.

GIRL: (she punches him in the ribs)

FATHER I: In fact, I ran into JERK the other day, he has just finished his military service.

GIRL: (Punching him again) Now, you are going to get it. You didn’t tell him that I was coming back.

FATHER I: Well he asked about you, and I may have.

GIRL: DEAD!

FATHER I: He looked sharp in his uniform.

GIRL: I don’t care if his underwear are made of gold, I will not..No!

FATHER: I like him.

GIRL: Dad I will live with you, but I am not going to date the boys you like.

FATHER I: He is a good man who has served his country.

GIRL: He is so political Dad; it would be easier to marry the entire Knesset than it would be to marry him.

FATHER I: Well I will remember to tell him that.

GIRL: (She punches him again but lays back against him and smiles as he runs his hands through his hair)

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL SCENE:

The sun hasn’t come up yet, but the sky has a pale blue light across it as Father P walks out with his son giving him advise:

FATHER: (takes his son’s face in his hands and says to him) Education is light.

BOY: I will remember. (Walking off).

FATHER: Oh son, could you take this envelope to a friend for me at the mosque. It will be easy. Just go to the market right away and find you cousin. This one is for him, the other you must deliver to Habib Hamadi. Your cousin will show you. He will be easy enough to find, but this must be delivered at 3:00 p.m. So go early, it cannot be late.

BOY: (Walks off).

FIRST CLASS:

TEACHER: Welcome class, to English 101. I am your teacher Mr. Wolfenstein, and you are lucky our class will have a native English speaking Assistant. Mr. AMERICA will you please stand and introduce yourself.

AMERICA: Hello, everybody. My name is Jon Wayne Nielsen from Northern California. I am also a student here as I will be studying under a fellowship for the next nine months. Oh, I can’t help you get your visa, and, no, I am not a CIA operative. (The students chuckle especially some girls who are smiling at him) Pleased to meet you.

Scene with the Girl Meeting up with some of her friends.

HEBREW CLASS: (Boy is sitting alone in the class, and AMERICA comes in and sits next to him).

AMERICA: Wow, it seems like wherever you go you can’t get away from me.

(They walk together a little.)

AMERICA: Well it seems like your English is good enough that we should be friends and you can help me try Arabic.

BOY: So you decided that you wanted to go to Heaven.

AMERICA: No I grew up there.

BOY: (Smiling) I am going to go into the market to meet my cousin, if you want you could come, and I will introduce you to him.

AMERICA: Well, I’ve been told to stay away from the market, but I am already just feeling a little too pent up. Plus maybe if I take you with me anybody thinking about causing trouble will wait until after we’ve passed. Let’s go.

(When the cousins are walking around campus of the Hebrew University along with the American, they keep running into hot Israeli chicks dressed like porn stars, revealing most of their weapons, the guys go crazy. “Wow, I love the blue.” “Kill me with dull a knife” “I make a fine sugar daddy” “My reputation precedes me by about one foot”

IN THE MARKET:

BOY: COUSIN!

PUNK: (holding his hand up to quiet his cousin, he adamantly stares at his target)

BOY: PUNK.

PUNK: (talking over his shoulder without looking back) Now, just hold on this guy looks a little too aware of his surroundings.

BOY: (looks suspiciously at the character)

AMERICA: What is he looking at?

PUNK: SHHhhh…

ALL: (Look forward watching the man as he takes off his jacket showing nothing).

PUNK: (Disappointed)

AMERICA: Whoa! Wait a minute was he looking for what I think he was. What is he crazy?

BOY: (looks at him with his eyes too wide open to not be saying yes, then he turns to his Cousin) You should be more careful; you shouldn’t just come into this neighborhood looking for this kind of thing.

PUNK: I want to know what it looks like. Do they scream? Are they calm? Do they hesitate?

BOY: You could get hurt. Aren’t you afraid?

PUNK: You spend enough time in this neighborhood and sooner or later everyone gets hurt. It’s not a matter of how, it’s when. Question is what are you doing here cousin. (flipping his pinky on his lip to show he is the older of the two).

BOY: I came to prove myself in a fight with you.

PUNK: (Smirks, but doesn’t look away. He begins by asking in English to the American) Do you like Brittany Spears?

AMERICA: NO.

PUNK: Good, neither do I. Do you like Simon & Garfunkel?

AMERICA: (wierded out a little slowly replies) Yah, why not.

PUNK: Who says we don’t have anything in common with Americans?

BOY: I have a message from my father, and he needs us to drop off a message but time is short.

PUNK: (Looking up more serious for a second around the market he says: Yes, lets get going now, before we are interrupted. It is easy to find. (To America) Come friend we will walk together. (Walking off he looks at America to ask) How tall are you?

AMERICA: 6 foot 2

PUNK: (waiting a moment) Is that big in America?

AMERICA: Above average

PUNK: (measures his height in comparison as they walk off).

SOME SCENE with the GIRL:

DROPING OFF THE LETTER:

(They hear an explosion in the distance)

AMERICA: Now, that is a discomforting sound.

BOY: (Looking over the city) Welcome to the city. That sort of thing happens every once in a while.

AMERICA: Do you ever get used to it.

BOY: (looking at PUNK who is talking seriously with the recruiter) Some people try to act like they are, but I hate it.

AMERICA: I expected to see it more often.

BOY: Don’t believe what you see on the news (now watching concerned as PUNK is being taught by the old man. He watches as they both mouth the words allahAkbar)

AMERICA: I will try to keep that in mind.

I NEED A COUPLE SCENES HERE OR A BETTER INTRO TO THE DANCE PARTY AT THE CLUB:

“MEET THE COUNSELOR”

(The COUNSELOR is small man with a skinny face who is so overwhelmed that he keeps working the whole time he talks. He does stop working as h asks about BOYS family, and is a little too swift and witty for a counselor. One gets the impression that he may have really gone somewhere in a different career, but instead he was too immersed in the career he has. It is difficult to tell whether he doesn’t care at all or cares all too much. He does have an extremely serious glare that he uses when he talks to boy about his status as a student.) I NEED TO ASK SHADI IF HIS BROTHER RAN INTO ANY WEIRD OR SPECIAL CONSIDERATION AS HE WENT TO HEBREW NATIONAL UNIVERSITY.

COUNSELOR: I was expecting you yesterday. I had a tour all set up to show you the campus, why didn’t you come? Did something happen?

BOY: No, but I came from the West Bank and had to go through several checkpoints, I was running late and so I just went straight to my classes.

COUNSELOR: Ohh, that’s a shame, but I wanted to talk to you first.

BOY: I would have come after class, but my father asked me to deliver something for him.

COUNSELOR: Did he? Tell me about you family, BOY.

BOY: (Looks confused during the question) my parent’s have two other children, sir.

COUNSELOR: Were they excited when you received your acceptance letter?

BOY: (More comfortable) Not, as excited as I was. Especially, my father he had hoped that I would go to the same school that he had.

COUNSELOR: Hmm, (thinking) well my son eventually I hope that we can make this an experience your father will value.

BOY: (Smiles, and leans in) I will.

COUNSELOR: Good attitude, but remember people are aware of your presence on campus.

BOY: Yes.

COUNSELOR: Well, it was good to meet you. I want you to see me twice a week for now. Don’t act disappointed I will make your time worth it by buying your lunch.

BOY: There are perks to refugee status.

COUNSELOR: (taken aback by BOY’s wit, he looks at him even closer and says slowly) I’ll see you on Sunday.

IN THEIR ENGLISH CLASS:

AMERICA: OK, time is up, if you need more time to prepare yourself I don’t want to hear what you have to say. Come to the table with what you have right now. OK, Esther, you go first. What are your dreams?

ESTHER: My dream is simple and very traditional. I want to get married and move into a large house for my family. I would fill it full of memories of holidays where all of my relatives could be in one place. Also, I hope to have three kids.

AMERICA: Only three?

ESTHER: That way if one is killed we will still have two. (She looks at BOY for a slight second and then looks down.)

AMERICA: (almost appalled by the thought, he stares at Esther and tries to let the awkwardness he alone feels pass by asking someone else). Umm, Qaifa what about your dream?

JERK: I am studying to be an engineer and I want to open my own company so that I can make a lot of money.

AMERICA: Ok, I knew that somebody was going to say it, now we are really speaking English. Are there any questions from the group? There better be questions from the group or else everybody who hasn’t shared will get zero credit at the end of class. (A group of hands go up).

JEFF: How are you going to start your company?

JERK: I plan on going to work for an American firm and I will seek investors while I am in America.

ESTHER: Do you have a girlfriend?

JERK: Three kids is a lot. (Laughing with the class).

BOY: What do you want to make?

JERK: (Stops laughing) Bulldozers.

AMERICA: Ok, Now, you are speaking Texan., lets move on before another Intifada breaks out. BOY what do you dream about?

BOY: I have the same dream all of the time.

ANOTHER STUDENT: Are you at church with only your underwear on?

BOY: (Laughing) I wish, but no. Uhh, I am walking through this blockade at this place where boys go to throw rocks at soldiers. In my dream I just keep on walking. Nobody can see me or maybe they are afraid of me I am not sure. But I can just walk right through with no problem until I get here from my parents house. Nobody gets mad, nothing gets in the way.

ESTHER: Wow it is so pretty.

BOY: Good, because I think three is the perfect number.

ESTHER: Oh, (she feels uncomfortable and blushes).

BOY: Don’t worry; I already know that I am not your type.

LETS GO TO A PARTY:

AMERICA: That was mind-blowing, ahh I don’t even know what to feel about that class.

BOY: I think that JERK wants to kill me.

AMERICA: Wait, you are not being serious are you?

BOY: (Shrugs).

AMERICA: So what do you do on the weekends? I don’t think I am ready to go throw stones.

BOY: You are alone; I am going to go home the night before the Sabbath.

AMERICA: Which one?

BOY: Huh?

AMERICA: There are three in this city.

BOY: Oh, Friday.

AMERICA: So we have to go out tonight.

BOY: No.

AMERICA: What do you mean no? This is your chance to stop missing your family for a minute and have some fun.

BOY: (shakes his head)

AMERICA: I can’t go alone, lets go into the market, find your cousin, and he can show us a place to go tonight.

IN THE MARKET:

PUNK: You have been in Jerusalem for two day and already you want to go to a club. It is this American’s fault isn’t it?

AMERICA: Yes.

PUNK: Ok I know the place. They allow anybody in, and it is great. Plus it is free for us because they only charge for drinks. There will be no spending money at this club.

BOY: Don’t worry he doesn’t drink.

PUNK: You don’t drink?

AMERICA: Nope. I never felt the need.

PUNK: This guy is truly a surprise. No drinking, no Brittany Spears. (to AMERICA) Do you have two girlfriends in America?

AMERICA: Nope.

PUNK: Are you even America?

AMERICA: Be careful it is a lot harder to apply stereotypes to Americans than you think.

PUNK: Nope. He is American. (To BOY) He thinks he is always justified.

Dance Club Scene:

Entering the Dance club you see a side of Israel that you are probably not used to seeing.

BOY is not completely comfortable, but they are trying to get him to lighten up a little. The Guys leave him alone, when he sees GIRL from across the room. She notices him and makes a slightly weird face reaching to sort of cover her face, which makes him smile. She notices his smile and smiles herself and looks at him also.

AMERICA: What are you looking at?

BOY: Do you see that girl over there?

AMERICA: The pretty one?

BOY: (exhales, but doesn’t take his eyes off of her)

AMERICA: Good luck that girl is the bomb.

RANDOM GIRL: BOMB?!

THE GROUP she is with: BOMB?!

(And everyone starts to scramble towards the exit. AMERICA gets caught up and pushed out along with PUNK. As the crowd pushes out GIRL and GUY remain transfixed on each other. Finally, they are left alone in the room. Girl looks around and after assessing that they are alone. Slowly walks towards him speaking.)

Girl: Do you speak English?

BOY: Well. Do you speak Arabic?

GIRL: A little. Do you speak Hebrew?

BOY: Poorly (smiling)

GIRL: (looks at him and turns to walk out)

BOY: I know enough to tell you that your beautiful, but I don’t know enough words to describe your beauty properly.

GIRL: (Over her shoulder) Poorly?

BOY: I am getting better. (Music Starts)

GIRL: You didn’t run.

BOY: You didn’t either.

GIRL: I wanted to know why you were staring at me, and…I didn’t feel scared. (Her eyes ask why she wasn’t scared)

BOY: I was thinking. How does such a flower grow in this desert?

GIRL: (slowly walking forward pauses when she gets close to him looks up into his eyes for a second and puts her arms around his neck)

BOY: (He reaches his arms around her tentatively)

GIRL: Are you scared?

BOY: I don’t know what I feel.

GIRL: Good answer.

BOY: What is your name?

GIRL: Hanna

BOY: (repeats it) Hanna

GIRL: (She smiles and pulls herself closer)

BOY: The song has ended.

GIRL: But I don’t want this dance to.

(the next song is a loud punk disco song that is too heavy to dance to and they slowly pull a part separated by the violent scale)

AMERICAN: (enters from the exit) I thought I had lost you. It’s more difficult to get through to an angry crowd than I had expected.

GIRL: (Pulling him close by the shirt whispers into his ear) Find me! (Then, she turns and leaves the club with BOY moving after her and AMERICAN stopping him)

AMERICAN: Were you just dancing with the hot girl?

BOY: Did you see her?

AMERICAN: She was the only other person in here.

BOY: No one has ever looked at me with eyes like that before.

AMERICAN: (Laughing softly) Isn’t there something in the Qua’ran about not falling for girls who aren’t afraid of bomb threats.

BOY: Don’t joke about the scriptures.

AMERICA: Done, but let’s go. The police are bound to get her soon. (pulling BOY with him).

Over the Weekend he is with his family.

His little sister is sitting in front of a mirror wrapping material around her face like a Hijab.

SISTER: BOY, I can’t wait to be old enough to wear a veil. Don’t you think they are so beautiful?

BOY: Don’t try to grow up to quick; the older you become the bigger your problems get.

SISTER: No, You are wrong. Life is easy. When you get old you can get married and then you get to cook whatever you want in your own house. My house is going to be beautiful with a kitchen, and I am always gong to wear my Hijab.

BOY: What do you know about getting married?

SISTER: It is easy. You meet a boy and then you get married.

BOY: What kind of boy?

SISTER: (Resenting the obvious question) a good one.

BOY: And me what kind of woman should I look for?

SISTER: same.

BOY: A good one?

SISTER: Yes.

BOY: What if I already met a girl? How do you know if she is good?

SISTER: (Eyes wide open) I will tell you. It depends on how she looks at you. If she looks at you like this (mimicking sultry eyes) she is not good. If she looks at you like this (making a sweet face) she is good.

BOY: Really, I think it was the second one.

SISTER: WELL, then I need to interview her. I will tell you for sure if she is good.

BOY: OK, I will let you meet her if I can, but you have to make a promise first.

SISTER: from this eye to the other.

BOY: Don’t tell Mom or Dad.

SISTER: She needs to bring me a present when she comes.

BOY: Who? (smiling)

SISTER: (Smiling back) I don’t know who you are talking about.

BOY: This is good no one will ever suspect you.

SISTER: It is because I am very small.

GOING TO SCHOOL:

FATHER P: Son, what is your schedule today?

BOY: I have classes until noon and will probably study after going to prayer.

FATHER P: Go to the mosque north of campus, I need you to deliver this to a friend in Jerusalem. It has to be there before prayer hour, so do not go anywhere else first. Oh, and get me one of those nice foreign shirts that you can buy on campus. I don’t want a cheap remake from the markets.

BOY: Yes father.

(She walks to school peacefully realizing the beauty of the city. She sees people smiling at her and she hears noises as she goes).

AT SCHOOL:

BOY goes to the bookstore to pick up a shirt for his dad who has asked earlier to get him one of those “foreign” and “exotic” shirt sold on his campus. BOY realizes that he does not know his dad’s size so he calls home.)

BOY: Dad, what size of shirt do you wear?

FATHER P: Oh, I do not know, Let me give you your mom, she would know.

MOM: It is size 17, and sleeves 34, honey.

BOY: Are you getting ready for your trip mom?

MOM: I have always been preparing for this trip.

BOY: Good, I guess then I should start packing now to follow your example.

MOM: Inshallah.

(On his way, he runs into a group of Israeli kids.)

STUDENT ONE: Hey Arab boy, where is your bomb?

JERK: I cannot believe they let them attend our colleges. Go back to your tin house, camel boy.

The Israeli girl walks by and stops to see how he reacts.

BOY: I am very proud of my tin house. I set it up by myself and drove the stakes in with my hand because we could not afford a hammer. It is something I worked for not rather a government handout.

JERK: (Stops smiling)

BOY: In fact, I love my shack. It is much better than our old house back in Ashcolon; what a dump that place was. You should know, don’t you live in my house now?

(Walks away wondering why that simple conversation made him so afraid compared to everything else.)

(And he walks away, leaving the Israelis student confused and shocked by the Pal guy’s statements.)

HISTORY:

The girl approaches the father about his job, and about being more lenient towards the Palestinians. (maybe this could be the scene at the Passover dinner) It brings up the conversations with the two fathers on history.

Father P: SON you don’t understand the history. There is more to this story than just hate, there are reasons.

Two separate scenes, but yet parallel to each other. A Pal grandfather is setting around on the dirt and gathering some of his grandchildren around him. On the other hand, an Israeli grandfather is setting on a nice fancy coach surrounded by a couple of grandchildren. In both scenes the grandparent are telling their accounts of history of the region. While the story is being told, the screen merges and both of them tell the same story betraying different people, different causes, and different sides and yet the story is the same. “We have always belonged to the land” “The land has always belonged to us” “We were kicked out and expelled, the Romans kicked the Jews, the Israelis kicked the Pal”, “We had no place to go, it is and it was our last option” “We are here to stay” “They won’t intimidate us, they have tried and we won, the Palestinians won because they are still there, the Israelis won the wars with the Arabs.” “We had to take up arms and stand for our cause” “your generation will keep the struggle alive” “They do not want peace, war is what they called for” “No one cares about us, we are living in memories” The Pal says “all people live on their land, but for us, our land lives in us” “Our dream lived in us and it is too dear to waste.” Both conclude “They have to show interest in peace first” “Our friends will make sure that we will exist” “Our daughters and sisters will make sure that our struggle will live on.” “This is why we should not give up, endorse to the end.”….etc.

BOTH: It is them against us.

DINNER HOSTED BY SISTER:

The scene where the mom goes on the HAJ, and the father informs them that he will be at a conference for the entire weekend. He cannot go to the Haj because he feels that the work he is involved in is keeping him from being ready to go. The little girl asks her brother to bring this girl over for dinner. The little girl cooks dinner, and BOY brings GIRL over. On their way through his neighborhood the girl is surprised at what she sees. He tries to give her a tour, but she is constantly aware of the people around her and the security fences. GIRL is surprised and repulsed when she sees a young boy being displayed in a suicide bomber uniform holding and AK-47. As she walks she starts to block out the sounds again, until she sees the hospital as they are walking by. She remembers that she needs to find a place to get some experience. As she enters his home she is amazed with how well kept it is. It is really beautiful on the inside with art work and the like all over the walls.

GIRL: Wow, it is so beautiful. Who did this?

BOY: My Mother, she always wanted us to have a perfect home.

GIRL: It is like a whole different world.

SISTER: (From the other room) You are late.

BOY: Checkpoints

SISTER: You should have left earlier. (entering the room she gets surprised and motions for her brother to come to her when he gets to her she whispers to him) She is Israeli?

BOY: Yup.

SISTER: Can Israelis be good?

BOY: I think so.

SISTER: OK I will find out.

GIRL: I didn’t know that this house was being run by such a talented woman. What may I do to help you with your dinner?

SISTER: HMM, you could stir for now because it takes a long time to get up on the chair every time.

GIRL: Thank you ma’am.

SISTER: (whispers to her brother) She is well brought up.

BROTHER: Who is that?

BOY: Our guest.

Brother: She is Israeli?

BOY:Yup

Brother: Why isn’t she wearing an army uniform?

BOY: Beyond the checkpoints, people aren’t all soldiers.

BROTHER: She is very pretty.

BOY: Yup.

BROTHER: I won’t tell mom and dad if you don’t tell my friends that you had an Israeli here.

BOY: Deal.

(During Dinner they laugh as the little girl acts like the mom to them all. During dinner Girl pulls out a small box.)

GIRL: I have brought a present for my hostess.

SISTER: OH you shouldn’t have, (she looks at boy and smiles).

(Opening the package she finds a Hijab and maybe a clip for her hair.)

GIRL: It may be big now, but as you grow as big as your heart it will be ready for you.

Brother: (Interrupting) What did you bring for me?

At the end of the dinner the little girl leans over to BOY. You see them from outside the circle with the light on the inside of the circle. Trying to hide her voice in the shadow the little girl whispers.)

SISTER: She is good. (Smiling they lean back and you can see GIRL in-between them listening happily to BROTHER tell her about the tank he wants her to give him. They both look towards her, and she looks across the table smiling at them and catching BOY’s eye. He smiles appreciatively at her and she smiles back slightly blushing and hiding redness by combing her hair to the side. Following this motion she risks another look up and finds boy still looking at her smiling.

They date and stuff gets messed up.

The violence following the holiday should go in here.

The Father is pushed by the people of the government to push back. He wants to listen to his daughter’s pleas, but the push of the hardliners is too powerful. They discuss the rule of law here.

SOLDIER: Sir, just like you expected another round of rioters. Should we follow your plan?

FATHER I: Have they moved against the border of the town?

SOLDIER: Not yet sir, they are only beginning to gather.

FATHER I: Do as planned and close all of the checkpoints. Nobody, gets in or out.

RULE OF LAW FIRST DRAFT:

FATHER I: Israel is the rule of law, it is stability among instability. The government must be heavy handed against those that can’t maintain decent social behaviors. Every time some one rises up they think that sort of violent behavior is acceptable, the norm. This outlaw behavior cannot be ignored, the law can only protect both of our people if it has power to stop and punish those that fight outside of its decent boundaries.

If we can keep the law secure then the next generation will be able to solve the problems. But we must uphold a system of law.

GIRL: And being open is the first step for my generation to solve those problems.

FATHER I: you are behaving beyond open, and being open does nothing to protect the rule of law.

GIRL: Can’t you see father, it extends it to the Palestinians. If they have a stake in it, they will uphold it.

FATHER I: They have a stake in our security; this was a lawless land before our people came here.

GIRL: My dreams are full of nightmares every night; this is still a lawless land (walking out).

FATHER I: GET BACK HERE! (Pounding the Table in front of him) There is a law and you will abide by it!

GIRL: (pausing to breathe She tenses her back and walks from the room)

A scene where boy can hear a mob of people, but she can’t. It would be placed perfectly

BOY: Can you hear that?

GIRL: What? (whimsicly)

BOY: Those people, there is a demonstration, and it only gets that load when the military goes in.

GIRL: (seeing a different look in his eye she grows afraid) I don’t hear anything.

BOY: The crowd they are out, and the military is in the city, and…(hearing another sound in the distance he struggles to make it out from the noise of the people. Suddenly, his eyes widen because he realizes what the sound is. Bulldozers are tearing through homes.) I must go. (The noise is louder now in his head).

GIRL: Stop, there isn’t anything.

(The sound of gunfire turns him towards the city. Whipping around towards the sound BOY focuses his eyes as the crowd’s noise turns into screams)

GIRL: (Still talking) You should stay here today. Please.

BOY: Can’t you hear them crying?

GIRL: Who?

BOY: My people.

GIRL: They are miles from here. How can you hear them?

BOY: YOU CAN’T?! Why don’t you hear that?

GIRL: (CRYING) I can’t. Please, don’t make me. Just stay.

BOY: I have to go to help them.

GIRL: You are going to get hurt, don’t fight stay.

BOY: (Taking her face into his hands and looking deep into her eyes) With you I have a hope that I have never known before, but people are being injured and homes are being destroyed. There won’t be time to fight for there are too many who will need aid. I will find you again. (Leaves)

GIRL: (weeps as she watches him leave) That is the first time I have seen you afraid.

BOY: (Goes home to find that most everything is in place the streets are silent, then all of a sudden he happens upon the street where everything is happening. It is dusty and people are moving everywhere. He looks ahead and you see him from behind standing in a city street that you have seen before, but there is a cloud of dust that fogs out the end of the street. People are running out of it into the clear. Several get shot as they come out of it. BOY, starts to move again. Stopping several times to help carry wounded. He runs into a friend.) Brother, what has happened?

FRIEND: I don’t know they started to Bulldoze homes, and a confrontation broke out.

BOY: WHY?

FRIEND: Do you think they tell us?! AHH Fuck! They killed Hazan.

BOY: Hazan?! He wouldn’t hurt a fly.

FRIEND: His home was on that block.

BOY: Have you seen PUNK?

FRIEND: no.

BOY: (Sees his little brother in the crowd, he runs to him and grabs him)

BROTHER: But, they are bulldozing our homes!

BOY: And, they will bulldoze you.

BROTHER: (Is scared but tries to act strong)

BOY: Mother, and Sister will need your protection. Go and make sure that they are safe. If the bulldozers or soldiers come, get them out of there. The family needs your protection.

BROTHER: Yes, I’ll go.

BOY: (Grabs him) this way! Go down small and dark streets only, it will be safer.

BROTHER: BOY!

BOY: What?

BROTHER: Hazan is dead. I saw PUNK and he was very mad. He said that Hazan was dead.

BOY: (Realizing that PUNK may be in danger, he begins to look around and sees the recruiter and runs towards him) PUNK! Where is he?

RECRUITER: Where you should be. He has gone to retaliate.

BOY: Where?

RECRUITER: He will die his death a victorious martyr for Islam.

BOY: And you? What will you sacrifice today as you run away? As you hide and send off others?

RECRUITER: (SLAPS BOY)

BOY: (unaffected, the question stands). My question stands.

(Runs after, PUNK. This is the scene where he runs all over looking for him. People think he was probably shot by the soldiers. BOY runs up a long plain hill that crests at a place in the desert. The city behind him and at the top of the hill, he sees PUNK and yells to him. Punk turns and sees BOY. He tries to run off, but looks down to the bomb around his waist and is too scared to run with it. Instead he keeps walking away. Boy sees this and will not accept it. He runs after PUNK to try and stop him, to be heard, to be a voice of peace and reverence.

BOY: Wait! I won’t let you do this.

PUNK: GO HOME!

BOY: I will follow you, and they will see that something is up.

PUNK: (turning and grabbing BOY by the neck holding the trigger mechanism up in his face) You can’t stop me! (Tears in his eyes) They killed Hazan! Hazan! Our poor retarded friend is dead. (pushing him back) How could he fight? How could he teach them his pain if not I go?

BOY: You will just be bringing more pain. We don’t understand why they come. Do you think that they know why we are doing this? Do you think they know why we retaliate? They are as confused as we are. I have seen how they fear it, but they are also helpless to stop it. Right now you aren’t, you can stop it.

PUNK: Why would you want me to stop? Are you afraid I will hit your precious girlfriend?

BOY: (Crying) I am afraid you will hit you.

PUNK: (Pausing) WHY? I hope they hit me. It is the only hope I have left. Where is my home? What am I? They never leave me alone. I have no option. Where are we supposed to find hope? They can have my tin shack home I hate it. They can have my nation! They can build their cities, they can have their jobs, and foods, and children, and mothers, and fathers. I have nothing anymore. They have my hope. How could anything be more dark than this?

BOY: There is more than just Hasan that needs you. I can’t explain to you how I have hope here. But I do, and you are as much a part of that as she is. Please, if you can’t see it in yourself, just trust mine.

PUNK: Nothing can erase this hatred. I can’t live with anger any longer.

BOY: Somebody has to do something different or this is going to keep happening.

PUNK: What about what IS happening?

BOY: What about what might if our people have hope again?

PUNK: I can’t even imagine it, I am always afraid.

BOY: Come back home with me and make your first stand against that fear.

PUNK: (He pushes BOY back who falls to the ground. Then, he rents his jacket and screams as he exposes and starts to remove the bomb. Then he drops it on the table at the recruiters home. I am not ready to describe the recruiter’s response. I need to talk with Hani first.)

PRAYER SCENE:

Walking together and talking in the city.

Amazed by the thought he stands and starts to move forward. He pauses on his first step because he hears the call to prayer. When she asks him why he has stopped (she hears nothing). He turns to see the pinnacle of the Dome of the Rock mosque. He turns back to her, and she squints as if to read him and looks over his shoulder seeing the minaret of the mosque. Slowly she hears the call to prayer also and looks to him as if to see what he will do. He returns her gaze straightens himself up saying,

GUY: I can’t go now I have to go.

GIRL: to pray?

GUY: (looking over his shoulder) Please understand this has always been there for me. He never rests.

GIRL: Can I drive you there?

BOY: I’d like that.

(They drive to the Mosque during the rest of the call to prayer)

(Offering her a veil to cover her face he takes her into the mosque, he whispers into her ear and then directs her towards the woman’s section. As she enters people great her repetitively

“Salamalekum”

(She responds hesitantly, with a slight suspicion for she has never been addressed as such. Entranced by her subtle sense of surprise she slowly enters to where the women are praying. Watching the women pray with images of BOY also praying with the men she feels a secure warmth developing in her heart. So, quickly that she is not only extremely aware of the feeling, but she is somewhat fearful of this growing sense of calmness. She is not overwhelmed though, not a convert. She is completely aware of the delicate and peaceful surroundings filled with a people that she has feared for so long. The same people who she had vilified for the instability of her nation, laws, and security were here before her welcoming her presence. They are as aware of her presence as she is of theirs yet their mutual awkwardness and unease was nonexistent. At this point she cannot block out the sounds anymore, she cannot blind herself to the world around her and the sound of the prayer being called increases and she recognizes it. As the women leave the prayer greeting her she tries to reply back, but her she struggles to even nod her head in appreciation as she fights back her tears and sense of injustice)

(Waiting wide-eyed and pensive in front of the mosque for BOY, he exits the mosque saluting several other patrons and locates himself at her side trying to locate her thoughts

by looking into the same space that she is. He glances from her and then off into the space that she is looking and then back at her breaking the silence with:)

BOY: Sorry to keep you waiting.

GIRL: I am so glad you felt you had to come here. I wanted you to come here.

BOY: I was surprised that you wanted to..

GIRL: Can I be honest with you?

BOY: My heart would die if it knew that you wouldn’t?

GIRL: It’s beautiful. I would have never thought I could see so many peaceful people in this city. This was so soft, serene, and reverent, but deep down inside that is not what I feel when I think about Islam. This was so good, but I have never seen anything like this outside of this mosque.

BOY: You can’t judge everything off what you see in the streets. There are many great Muslims.

GIRL: I know there must be, but where are they? (Looking out into the city she stands up facing the city and asks) Where are the reverent demonstrations? Where are the peaceful voices? Where are those women everyday? (She turns to ask this final question facing him and the mosque).

BOY: (Tries to interrupt her)

GIRL: (now shedding tears she emphatically insists) They have no faces to me! I only know that face…that horrible smiling face from the market (she shivers slightly).

BOY: (sadly admitting) to some people it is the same thing.

GIRL: ITS NOT. I’ve seen both…what those people have in there and what I saw (she stops herself as if her comments need no justification or maybe she just doesn’t want to relive that experience)

BOY: Please try to understand

GIRL: Whatever! If reverence is a practice of worship, it should also be a practice of life. WHERE ARE THOSE VOICES?

BOY: I don’t even know what to say.

GIRL: You don’t have to say anything to make me understand. I feel safer around you, but I am still so skeptical of what this becomes once I walk out of here.

BOY: GIRL, ( he hugs her to calm her)

GIRL: I love you…(he is surprised to hear her say such a thing)…but if you let this image die, so dies that love. I cannot love the face I knew.

THEY: (driving together from the back seat you can see them holding hands).

INSERTS: The GIRL overhears the father, The boy finds out that he got into the University so that they could watch his actions and find out more about the father. He goes and read the letter only to find that it was empty. The father was sending him away from the hot spots that he knew about. He will then go in search of his father. To talk things out with him. It is in this scene that the father describes the balance of Power. “they have weapons of mass destruction; We have to be weapons of mass destruction.” The son asks about his brother’s fate.

BOY: What about OLDER BROTHER? Was the balance worth it?

FATHER P: (slaps him) Don’t you dare talk about him. Leave him out of this your brother was a hero.

ONE LINERS:

I bring peace even to the Israeli’s, I bring a balance that stops a greater war.

BOY: I don’t want to live in America, I want to live in Palestine. I just wish I felt like I could live here.

The son says, fine continue with what you are doing I don’t care any more. But I am staying in Jerusalem this weekend. Will you still send them?

We don’t want to cause death. There are those of us who balance. We are balancing for life. Security comes from fear.

What is the one thing that our peoples truly lack? Trust father, TRUST. Life will come from trust.

AMERICA”S big lines

Come on I will buy you some lunch.

I just don’t understand. You just don’t act this way where I am from, how do people run around with such few cares. Don’t peoplecare about each other.

Why can’t you let me live.

Are you afraid I will forget? I want to forget. I don’t want to remember misery. I want to live without fear. I was not in Aushwitz Dad, but I feel like I am there now. I know that you didn’t cause that father, but your holding me back from leaving it. I don’t want to bare their burdens anymore, mine are too heavy. What reality is my life? I was always afraid. If only this one, still there is one Palestinian who doesn’t hate me yet. One who makes me feel secure. Why do you want to ruin that? Why are you so afraid of me enjoying my life.

I am not trying to save an Israeli father, I am trying to save anybody. I don’t want people to die anymore.

Don’t try to change the world. Change yourself and find your world.

We don’t want to cause death. There are those of us who balance. We are balancing for life. Security comes from fear.

This scene can come during the violence between the two sides:

AMERICA: I just don’t understand. You just don’t act this way where I am from, how do people run around with such few cares. Where are law and decency?

PUNK: Why do you think you have to do this?

AMERICA: Have you ever woken up and realized that you have already had or experienced everything that you had ever wanted.

PUNK: No.

AMERICA: I did, and after a realization like that there are several things you can do.

You can throw it all away, and that is just not an option. I found that happiness is worth every little effort. You could keep living you life happy or you can help other people until they get the same thing. I think everybody, can really find a way to maintain a stable and happy life with family, friends, and God willing a decent job.

PUNK: This is so different; there is nothing that you can do in our world.

AMERICA: Do you think that I don’t know that I don’t do any good? Do you think that I am only here because I am positive I will change everything? Sometimes it is good enough letting people know that the option exists. There is another way, and the few people who could better their existence by it should be able to do it. Just because everything says, “no” doesn’t mean that you don’t go on trying to do as much good as you can. The world no matter how shitty will always be what we make of it.

PUNK: I never thought.

AMERICA: You never thought shit, if your cousin is about to go do something you know is wrong get your ass in gear and go stop him.

BOY: (Goes to stop his cousin from blowing himself up).

(She tries to escape in fear) Shoot me I can’t live in this world.

FATHER: (Remembers the words of his son, enraged saying “You are wrong father, today I brought security and peace to an Israeli because I would only that some of us live lives.”

I thought things could only be equal if you felt I was as scary as you are. My son, BOY al-Madhoun, learned that things could be better than equal. I have carried the thought that our strength must be equal and balanced for so long that I can’t learn any more. So, I am going to teach you. I never knew that my son could die of my wounds. (Pushing GIRL to her father). Tomorrow I will bury my true hope. Now I have only one son left. Please do not take him from me (Turning and limping away).

Timeline for the end

They learn of the strike. BOY has to go after his mother. AMERICA and PUNK go after the father and GIRL at the hospital. (have one of them say that near check points slow down catch your breath and act as if you are bored, maybe you could show a shot of them going through a checkpoint as if ignorant of any danger at a crucial time.

A spy character overhears the father’s whereabouts and it is implied that the target changes somehow. (maybe a radio message is sent)

The father confronts the girl at the hospital.

AMERICA and PUNK learn that the father is going to confront the girl and go to the Hospital as quick as possible. They get through a checkpoint quickly because AMERICA tells the guards that he is with him. When they ask who he is, he holds up his document saying, I am a guest of your country studying at Hebrew National University.

The father leaves the HOSPITAL. Then, boy is shown going through a checkpoint Maybe right before the scene with the girl almost as if she was thinking about him. :

Working in the Hospital the young woman notices the little girl again. They meet eyes and GIRL slowly develops a relieved smile as she watches the little girl sitting on the edge of her seat. The little girl smiles back showing a missing a tooth. GIRL is in the shot smiling when all of a sudden an explosion rocks the wall behind her causing her to fall forward. A missile is shown leaving a rocket launcher slowly unlatching from its launch. The propulsion flame spews flame opposite its path recklessly. GIRL struggles to get to her feet and run, but is sent against the wall when the second missile hits the wall now closer to the little girl. Looking up from the debris and through a dust with uncommonly thick particles in it (float flakes into the air) She focuses on a helicopter flying in the distance. It shows a shot of it in the air slowly floating to the left. GIRL looks up to see the little girl crying, but alive and looks back to the helicopter. A hand is shown on a control stick launching a missile pressing down in highly slow motion. Limited by the pain, but reaching for the little child with strength beyond her powers, Girl drags herself to her feet and runs for the little girl. The missile is shown igniting. And GIRL gets to her feet. The clamp releases again as girl runs pushing a cart towards the girl and diving to get her. The missile silently detached now travels towards the building from a Camera’s eye view. The shot speeds up and travels directly into the wall next to the hole in the building silently. The explosion erupts from the inside of the building releasing sound again with dust and debris flying over the two and the wall falling over and extinguishing the light.

The helicopter hovers a moment surveying its prey. Almost scouring the rubble for victims. There are shots of the rubble then the Helicopter as if it is looking at it. Then AMERICA and PUNK run into the shot looking up. Punk covered with perspiration runs up to a crowd which hides to watch the helicopter from safety and takes a gun from a standby. Taking aim at the helicopter, he fires several rounds at it screaming as if to scare it away. The helicopter turns and reels on its axis and the camera rapidly zooms into the window as if a great black eye looking at PUNK. Then another man in the crowd steps up and fires also. Several other sites in the city start firing at the helicopter. With flashes erupting from all over the neighborhood the helicopter rapidly makes a retreat. As the people in the crowd run off after it or to hide, PUNK stares up at it out of breathe and lowers his head. He looks to the side and sees the boys from the beginning starring at him from under an awning. He grips the gun as if trying to break it and yells,

PUNK: I gave up violence yesterday, but if I ever see you boys thinking that this is the answer

(pointing to the gun), I will find you and make you pay so bad that you are going to wish you had a school to go to.

PUNK throws the gun to the side as if disgusted to touch it but also disappointed in himself and runs off. The boys step out from under the shade slowly and tentatively as if into strange new surroundings.

BOY gets to his home only to find his mother) Mother you have to get out of the house now. MOTHER: She quips, “this is new, now Palestinians are asking us to leave our homes.” BOY: (He smiles and laughs embracing his mother) Mother, my whole life has been what you have given me. Thank you. Mother: (With a tear running down her cheek she says), “Don’t try to change the world, Change yourself. (pausing). Now you decide where to go, I am not sure where is safe in Gaza right now.” Crying he leaves her, and she prepares to pray.

They cannot find the girl, but the father is being hurried off the scene covered in soot and limping. He yells to them, “Look for survivors and bring them to the mosque.” They begin to look for her.

FATHER I is now shown doing something I don’t know what yet. Probably preparing to go on patrol because he finds out that his daughter is in Gaza.

BOY is stopped by the agent who was trying to convince PUNK to carry a bomb. AGENT: BOY! Quick come hide with us, there has been a strike and patrols are about to enter the city. BOY: Where did it happen? Was my father there? AGENT: It was the hospital. It collapsed and we believe your father was inside. BOY: It collapsed with everyone inside. AGENT: Immediately. There is no chance of surviving what those bastards have done. Even children have been slaughtered. BOY: NOOO!!! (to himself as the old man keeps speaking) That was it. It was all gone. It had taken me an entire life to find my hope and in a flash it was stolen. AGENT: (mumbling something about duty, but BOY is just staring at the bomb that they had made for PUNK the day before. The man leaves the room for something and comes back to find that BOY had left).

BOY wearing the bomb walks toward some sort of guard post. As he walks through the city wearing it everybody seems to be looking at him, everybody seems to be an enemy and he violently walks past them all.

The Recruiter comes to the scene from the hospital. Looking for FATHER P). PUNK: (stops him grabbing his clothing to catch his stumbling tired body) He is unharmed and was moved to a safe location.

RECRUITER: I must find him, I must tell him the news.

PUNK: What news?

RECRUITER: His son! He has gone to avenge his father.

PUNK: (Grabs a hold tightly to the man’s shirt and shakes him).

AMERICAN: What? What is he saying?

PUNK: How do you know this?

RECRUITER: I told him that his hospital had been destroyed. I said that his father was here and he said so was his girlfriend. I left the room, and he was crying. I came back, and he was gone and so was the weapon that we had made for you. He has changed; he will be a righteous sacrifice in defense of his great father.

PUNK: (THROWS the man down, and the recruiter proceeds to praise as he gets up and scurries off after the father).

AMERICA: What did he say? Tell me? What is it?

PUNK: (stunned) BOY, is going to Jerusalem wearing the bomb made for me.

AMERICA: (throws the debris in his hand down) I don’t understand how people can have so little care for each other. You just don’t act this way where I am from. (he begins overthrowing everything in the debris that he can get his hands on) Where are law and decency?

PUNK: Why do you think you have to do this?

AMERICA: Have you ever woken up and realized that you have already had everything that you had ever wanted.

PUNK: No.

AMERICA: I did! After a realization like that there are several things you can do.

You can throw it all away, and that is just not an option. You could keep living you life happy or you can live to give the same thing to other people. I know people can maintain a stable and happy life with family, friends, and God willing a decent job. I know I benefited from it.

PUNK: This is so different; there is nothing that you can do in our world.

AMERICA: I know that I don’t do any good! Do you think that I am only here because I am positive I will change everything? Sometimes it is good enough letting people know that the option exists. There is another way, and the few people who could better their existence by it should be able to. Even though everything says, “no” doesn’t mean that you don’t go on trying to do as much good as you can. The world no matter how shitty will always be what we make of it.

PUNK: I never thought.

AMERICA: You never thought shit, if your cousin is about to go do something you know is wrong get your ass in gear and go stop him.

PUNK: (gains resolve to stop BOY, but then they hear rocks banging against each other something)

AMERICAN: (Looking around in the foliage he has overturned)

GIRL: (faintly) HELP.

AMERICAN: GIRL is that you? (Standing quietly)

GIRL: Help.

PUNK: There! (pointing they start digging away the debris which lets air into the hole and being able to breath she calls out)

GIRL: BOY.

PUNK: She is alive.

GIRL: There are two of us.

PUNK: We have a live one! (yells to everyone, and the father who has returned to the scene)

GIRL: Where is BOY? Is he safe?

AMERICA and PUNK: (Both freeze and stare at each other, AMERICA looks at punk with his eyes saying to go nodding his head)

AMERICA: (into the hole) We will find him. (to everyone) Come help! (Father P turns to listen to the sound and looking you can see the American waving from the other side of the lot and PUNK running off).

(Everyone starts to move towards the American.)

FATHER P: (Being approached by the recruiter, he brushes by paying no attention to him.)

RECRUITER: I have great knew of a glorious rebel…

AMERICA: (Starts to lift the piece of roof on top of GIRL. He begins to push with all of his strength and other hands come to his aid and push along with him. The rock lifts and he yells to “get them out.” You can see the little Pal Girl and GIRL laying in space between the overturned medical cart that she had pushed earlier. It is crushed and they are covered with dust.

GIRL: Take the girl first.

FATHER P: (runs in slow motion towards the survivors, but cannot see anyone behind the rock that America now holds up. Then a man emerges holding the little girl covered in soot, bleeding, and crying. He stops in his tracks and looks at the girl imagining his own daughter. He can’t hear anything but his heart as he watches the little girl reach out to someone slowly standing from the debris. The rock falls and a cloud of dust comes from it as GIRL stands reaching back to the little girl. Taking her in her arms and hugging her tightly crying.

GIRL: (You can’t hear this it is read from her lips) You are OK. We made it. Father P: (Reaching the two he is confused with GIRL, but takes the little girl in his arms and hugs her to safety. As he walks off AMERICA is looking at his strength confused. GIRL tries to catch her self and her breath. She looks up into the sky and combs her hair back. She looks around not really knowing what to do. Father P has stopped and watches the girl in her confusion. She looks up to him as if to say do you question my motives now? He tries to walk off, but instead tells one of his aids to help her and bring her to the refuge where they can check her wounds.

PUNK: (Is running after BOY. He follow the same streets that BOY once searched for him at. Running up the same long hill that boy had run near the crescent the apache helicopter abruptly swoops into the shot. Punk is stopped, as the wind blows him back and the helicopter is so close it nearly hits him. Tybalt Copter: (turns a little to the right as if staring PUNK down.) PUNK: (stands up looking it straight on. As he looks back at it they are shown from the side staring at each other. PUNK sees BOY walking behind the helicopter. The Helicopter turns as if to look at what PUNK sees, but PUNK looks forward again and catches its attention. Making it look back towards him. A close up of his dirty sweat covered face having given up, he looks right into the Helicopter and yells:) BOY, (BOY from an opposing hillside turns to see) SHE IS ALIVE. (only before he can say “alive” the voice is drained out by the helicopter’s gattling gun. His mouth is only shown mouthing the words before the bullets reach him and a cloud of dust sprays behind his body by twenty yards or so.) Tybalt Copter: (having found its prey hovers over the body for a second) BOY: NOOOOO!! TYBALT Copter: (Reels around looking for the sound, but BOY hid behind a wall. The beast sees nothing so turns and heads back towards Israel) BOY: (Shown behind the wall in tears, he slowly gets up and walks forward determined). Today, I understand for myself what everybody was talking about. I understand all of the anger, the passion, and the torment. I understand why we hate ourselves now. For, the first time after so many years of confusion and asking myself why, I fully understand my brother and why he did what he did. He must have been so sick of seeing his and our father’s hopes crushed; he couldn’t see any other alternatives. There are no other alternatives! I felt the pain and anger surge through me, as it must have them when they watched their hopes and aspirations stolen. Incapable of meeting their hope, it seared their hearts everyday. I want everyone to know the madness it causes to have hope stolen. It would have been better to have never known it. I can’t stand it, Death is a way of life. Where is hope? (Then he hears a call to prayer and pauses. Turning to the setting sun which glistens an image of her talking with the sun behind her making her hair glow comes in a spinning motion.

“Where are the peaceful voices?”

GUY: ( breaking down he begins to cry and we hear his voice over again) I can’t be with her anymore…but I won’t be responsible for taking anyone else’s hope away.

He drops the bomb in the sand and keeps walking.

It shows him walking slowly smiling and as if taking in the sun light when a loud whirring sound is recorded and a shot of him falling to his knees and then forward.

(If time exists there could be the shot of the sniper watching him approach and hoping that he would stop walking forward. Please stop he pleads the entire time, but then in the end the shot is fired and the BOY falls)

Several of the characters watch as it happens

The mother is shown taking a picture of BOY and placing it on a mantle alongside a picture of his brother.

The girl tries to kill herself, but Father P sees that she saved the little girl that reminded him of his own daughter. He tries to leave her, but sees her looking at the gun and can’t deal with it.

Fathers meet.

I thought things could only be equal if you felt I was as scary as you are. My son, BOY al-Madhoun, learned that things could be better than equal. I have carried the thought that are strength must be equal and balanced for so long that I can’t learn any more. So, I am going to teach you how things can be better when we (pausing) don’t try to be more violent than the other. (Pushing GIRL to her father). Tomorrow I will bury my true hope. Now I have only one son left. Please do not take him from me (Turning and limping away).

The Israeli father raises his gun to shoot the Palestinian, but looks down to his daughter. He sees her traumatized, and instead of pulling the trigger throws the gun down into the sand in front of himself and goes to help lift up his daughter..

FINAL SCENE:

Sir, there is a demonstration rising in the Golan area. What should we do?

FATHER I: It is a funeral.

We will send in some troops to make sure that it doesn’t get out of hand.

FATHER I: You will send no one.

But sir?

FATHER I: NO ONE! There will be no patrols! (looking out the window) Today We all mourn.

Cuts back to the funeral showing the father and the friends lifting the coffin over their heads and carrying it out to the funeral. As they prepare to leave the building carrying the coffin the father reaches to a gun resting against the wall. Resting one finger on the barrel to pull it towards him he hesitates, looks over his shoulder slightly at PUNK and his other son carrying to coffin. He takes his hand from the gun and extends it to his son. Walking hand in hand they lead the way out the door with the coffin following them. PUNK is shown carrying the coffin with a tear rolling down his eye. The mother is followed by women who weep and cry, but she doesn’t. She just walks forward one step at a time. We see the faces of those he knew.

SOLDIER: Your daughter has left the building.

FATHER I: No matter, she probably isn’t any safer in this house than anywhere in the city.

We see the girl at the wall crying with her arms beating against it; it is a new wailing wall of sorts. PUNK is shown carrying the coffin with a tear rolling down his eye and the shot fades.

Final Image: the bomb and gun in the sand there is a soft wind noise slowly blowing sand across the two weapons burying them. At this point the credits roll, but the image of the gun and bomb is shown throughout.

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