At a checkpoint today, a guided tour of some sort arrived as we opened the gates. While other soldiers went to their posts, I just sat watching 20-30 individuals (mostly tourists it seems) take photos and film us as we prepared to allow Palestinians in. Curiosity got the best of me, and I eventually approached one of the participants, "Who is leading the tour?" She responded in broken English that it was too hot to think, but those few words allowed me to hear her strong French accent. Though my vocabulary is rather poor, I still am confident enough to hold a conversation in French and proceeded to ask her the same question in French. "Machsom Watch," she answered as she showed me their pamphlet.
I decided it was an opportunity to talk (me?!?!), and with her tour guide going on in English about "the approaching hell of the Palestinians entering the check point," a few more of the French speakers came to listen to me. "One has to be careful with groups that have a strong political agenda," I explained, "They'll always slant a story accordingly." The conversation lasted a good ten minutes, but by the time I had finished giving a different angle, there were two groups - one listening to me, and one to the tour guide. After my tour had stopped, I helped an old man through the gate and wished him a good evening. I heard the other tour guide say, "This is a good soldier. He greeted the man and told him good evening." I just hope my message has given those who listened a different angle, and desire to hear the whole story, not just the one Machsom Watch puts out.
On that note, I think the IDF would be wise to give one day seminars how 'we' should behave with these tours. Let the soldiers understand how important of a role their mouths can play in this conflict - be respectful, talk to them, explain your stance and present them a side of the conflict they may have ignored until now. If done well, maybe - just maybe, a positive impact of some sort can be made.
Mosquitoes are killing me. I've never had so many bite marks in my life - 21 on my face alone.
It's ironic seeing an older Palestinian man walking through the check point wearing a Likud hat.