Yesterday I came to Aqaba, Jordan, and today I went to the border at 8 am.
I was nervous, but at the same time I felt good, doing something that I had been anticipating for a long time.
I crossed the Jordanian border without any problem, only 15 minutes later I picked up my bag again and started walking to the Palestinian side which is controlled by Israel. Two armed guys were waiting there and asked me for my passport. They look each other and asked me “Where are you from?” despite that one of them had my Chilean passport in his hand. After that I went to the questioning room, and two other officers were there and asked me the normal questions — well, normal by Israeli standards. All the questions were about my family name, why my name is Nadia Hasan, if I am Muslim. I answered no, I am Christian. “But why do you have a Muslim name; why don’t you change it?” Twenty minutes more of that and they let me pass. They even told me, “Welcome to Israel, enjoy your time here.”
I got to passport control and a big group of tourists were there. Everyone got their visa in less that five minutes. When was my turn, I saw a familiar face, the woman in the control office was the same one as last year, who gave me a one-month visa told me, “If you don’t like it, go back to Chile. We don’t want more Palestinians here!”
This time, everything was normal. She asked me for my passport, and checked my name at the computer. She was looking at it for more that two minutes. At that moment I knew that my name was there, but what kind of information they have, I don’t know. She called in a guy, then another woman, and then another guy. All of them were talking in Hebrew, sometimes glancing over at me, then reading again — I don’t know for how long, I was so nervous.
A different officer came to me and started to speak in Arabic. I told him that I did’t understand, but he continued to speak in Arabic. After that he told me “good luck” and asked me to go to the check room again. Well, he didn’t ask such as order me “move now.”
I entered in the questioning room and I had all the Israeli security with me, more than 15 persons, all of them not older than 22, playing an important game in their life, with power in their hands and with a terrorist in front of them. I saw excited eyes, waiting for the orders of the oldest man, the guy with the largest M16 in his hand.
They opened all my bags, put everything on a table and start to check all it, every last item. A young woman told me that she need to check my body, and with a smile on my face I answered, “OK, no problem” When she was checking me she whispered to me, “I am sorry, but is my work — can you take of all your clothes?” I replied yes, but I want to keep my t-shirt on (I didn’t want to show my tattoo). However, she checked all of me — open your legs, close your legs, sit here, up and open your legs again, etc. Just like last year.
After the woman from last year came and asked me if I was in Israel before, I answered yes. “Why are you coming again?” I have friends here. “Arabic friends?” No, Israeli friends. “Israelis?” Her face changed. Yes, Israeli friends. She asked me their names and I gave them to her.
I was then asked for my other passport, a passport that I of course don’t have. I was asked about Gaza, about Nablus, about other Arab countries, about my name again …
She then left me alone, I checked the time, was 10:30 am. I was thinking that my future in Palestine will depend on her decision. I wanted to smoke, but of course I was not allowed to do do so, and told sit there and wait.
I continued to wait, nervous but quiet at the same time. I had been waiting for this moment since I was refused from my homeland last year, six long months before. I was there once more, ready to experience it all again.
I checked the time, it was 12:15. I asked if I could use the bathroom, but they told me no, to sit and wait. After ten minutes the woman came back. I wanted to cry; I knew that she held my dreams in her hands. She gave me back my passport, I took my bags (after putting everything back inside) and I started to walk away.
Tears filled my eyes as all my memories from Palestine flooded my head and my heart. I thought about every person that I met in Nablus, how much I wanted go back, how close I was.
One man stopped me and told me something that I had heard before and didn’t want to hear again: “Welcome to Jordan.”
I was back in Aqaba, with Palestine in front of me but farther away than ever.
I went through the Jordanian border once again, my bags feeling lighter than before. The tears were still in my eyes, but my legs were stronger. What the Israelis on the other side don’t understand that every time that they refuse a Palestinian at the border they recognize that the Palestinians are there. They use those guns to keep something that doesn’t belong to them. They are afraid to see us through our eyes, to acknowledge that we are here, near, and always will be near. For the truth is that Palestine exists.
Nadia Hasan lives in Amman, Jordan, where she waits to return to
Palestine. She was first deported by Israel in September of 2005,
and this essay was written in March 2006, after third attempt to
return to Palestine.