Poki balances on Ania's shoulders, in front of a large outdoor audience

Negotiating Borders

Our name, “Without Borders,” speaks to the ethos of our organization, but in many ways is a misnomer. Often, negotiating borders, visas, and checkpoints takes a significant amount of time on each tour. For many of our audiences and collaborators, these borders are a routine part of life. Matthew “Poki” McCorcle and Ania Upstill reflect on navigating borders in the West Bank.


Life is a tangled web of rules here in Palestine. Rami Khader, the director of Diyar Theatre and our project organizer for this tour, tells us about the different zones we pass through during a 15-minute drive in Bethlehem. First is Zone A, an area of Bethlehem under Palestinian jurisdiction. Except at night, that is, between 12am and 7am, when there’s a switch and the Israeli guards come in. “The night belongs to Israel,” Rami says. Next, without any visible marker, we drive into an area designated as Zone B, which means it’s under Israeli jurisdiction but everyone who lives there is Palestinian. We arrive near his house and Rami points out a clearing between two buildings. “That over there is Zone C, a confiscated zone,” he says. “Palestinians are not allowed to go there.”


When I got a ride from the airport, my driver pointed out Ramallah, describing how the road cuts through two parts of Palestine. “The Israelis wanted to build a road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. So they took the land for the road and built tunnels under it for the Palestinians to use. Palestinian vehicles aren’t allowed on the road,” he tells me. The whole highway is surrounded by tall fences coated in barbed wire. I’m struck by the bizarre nature of not being able to use the best road going through your own territory. No wonder Palestinians speak about how long it can take to get to other parts of Palestine—even on a good day.

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