I spent Christmas with family in France, and I’m in Paris on my own for a couple weeks. My AirBnB rental fell through at the last moment, so I’m staying in hostels. It’s sometimes lonely. Sometimes I find people I would otherwise have never met. A lovely young Palestinian woman explained to me last night exactly what it’s like to live under an occupation. It’s hard, she says. Obviously. I’d like someday to cross a checkpoint, to understand what it’s like, and to share the experience with others. What else can one person do to provoke change? My friend said she never pauses at checkpoints. Most people do, obediently. She doesn’t stop unless someone insists though she laughed and said she’d never tell this to her mother. She said the British colonists a century ago transported trees intended to kill the native vegetation, so even when she sits and enjoys nature, it feels oppressive. She says an Israeli can demand that a Palestinian family leave their home if the Israeli wants it. I’m sure it’s not that simple, but I don’t doubt that in some way she’s correct. She said the Palestinian can contest the decision in court, but it’s an Israeli court. It’s an Israeli system. She said Palestinian laborers built the houses that Israelis live in. They like to believe that they built those homes for themselves, that they’ll someday be there when the Israelis go or when Palestinians have enough political power to affect change. She was peaceful and optimistic, and it was hard to hear her stories without feeling personally frustrated. I’d like someday to pass through a checkpoint, to appreciate the experience, and to share that story with anyone who cares to know.