"The settlers in al-Khalil watch us from above too. One drops a cement block from four storeys up. It misses, destroys itself on the ground. We carry on into the city. The deeper you go the older it becomes, the walls of houses binding to one another: no endings and no beginnings, an interconnected hive of shared space and mutual fortification. Each step takes you deeper inside, deeper into the city's physical memory, into its trauma. House by house this battle is fought. Some have fallen, the flags or the victor plunged deep in their chests. The Palestinian colours are nowhere to be seen, long outlawed by the martial government. The streets are nearly silent. Shop after shop is shuttered. Again and again graffiti — stars of David, graffiti in Hebrew: GAS THE ARABS. The settlers are above, watching, building a new network of watchtowers and sight lines and access points. Another people, another history taking shape above, pressing down on those below, working, waiting, watching.
"When we stand in the Ibrahimi Mosque I point out the bullet holes. I say the word massacre. Some stop to look at them, some authors understand what that word, that fracture in the marble, really means. I can do no more than point.
"They are digging underneath the houses, they are watching from above.
"Another language is forming above us, around us. A settlement is a civilian community, a village, an expression of Israel's natural growth, a fact on the ground, a negotiable asset, a military outpost, a political provocation, a colonial expansion.
"It's not a wall. It's a security barrier, a separation fence, an immigration control, a complex collection of cement and barbed wire and ditches and patrol roads, it's an apartheid wall of racial segregation.
"Words are important in Palestine. Nowhere is it more important to call a wall a wall. To call apartheid, apartheid.
"Archbishop Desmond Tutu calls it an apartheid state. What more should anyone need to know? Archbishop Desmond Tutu calls it an apartheid state. Repeat it like a mantra.
"Get on the bus. Each day you will understand more. Each day we cross lines drawn by soldiers in the sand, cross lines that millions of others cannot. Tomorrow we will go to Jerusalem. Tomorrow we will go through Qalandia. Tomorrow we will walk through the razor wire and the cattle runnels and the steel gates that they call Qalandia. That first time I was forced through the metal humiliation I was so angry I cried. It was the first festival. Suheir Hammad squeezed my hand. Sometimes I think that was the first time I felt that I was an Arab. But I had an EU passport in my pocket. I drove on to Jerusalem.
"We cross Qalandia and drive along the long wall towards Jerusalem. On the other side is al-Ram, once a suburb of the capital, now a smuggler backwoods cast out of the demographic fold. The wall stretches on. It's not a wall, it's the cumulative effort of dozens of international corporations earning billions of dollars for cement from Ireland and barbed wire from South Africa and construction vehicles from Caterpillar, JCB, Volvo and Bobcat and patrol vehicles from Humvee and General Motors and dogs from K-9 Solutions and biometric IDs from Hewlett-Packard and X-ray machines from Rapiscan and guards from G45. The wall stretches on.
"We arrive in Jerusalem, a city of soldiers' guns and victors' flags and intricate alleyways, French tourists carrying replica crosses along Jesus' footsteps and sweating white soldiers and armed settlers in sunglasses carrying provisions up to their urban fortresses above the simmering, taciturn population, who have held on to their houses through fifty years of military dictatorship and night patrols and arbitrary arrests and increasing taxes and municipal neglect and brutalized children and administrative detentions and destruction orders and travel restrictions and offers of millions of dollars and passports to those who will leave quietly in the night.
"They are digging underneath the houses, they are laying siege with new settlements, they are choking you with the wall."