Even if you're the president, when you come to Abu Holie, you sit
and wait with the rest. Usually, hundreds of cars, trucks and buses
wait for hours for the checkpoint to open, so they can pass through
to Gaza City or one of the refugee camps of the north.
Having been blessed recently to go to Spain, I found it actually
takes less time to go from Tel Aviv in Israel to Malaga in Spain
(five hours) than it takes me to go from Khan Younis to Gaza City
In terms of distance, the trip between Gaza and Khan Younis takes
only 15 minutes.
Anyway, I was recently stuck at Abu Holie in one of the many
rusting, yellow Mercedes-Benz limousines trying to get to Gaza.
The taxi driver, noticing my guitar case, demanded a song. I
relented after he insisted as only Arabs know how.
I took the guitar and played a humorous rendition of a popular
Arabic song, which I had plagiarized and localized.
It is called "So Ya So Habibi Habaso," which means "So Ya So, they
put my friend in prison."
The song was a hit with the stranded group.
Then I did another song, which I plagiarized from church and
It's called, "Salaam," which is Arabic for "Peace," a word which
is very similar to its Hebrew cousin, shalom.
It, too, was received well. Both songs have been played on local
radio stations here in Gaza.
When I finally got through Abu Holie, I hurried toward the Erez
checkpoint, so I could get into Israel and see my father in his West
Bank village, near Jerusalem.
When I got to Erez, the Palestinian soldiers on the Gaza side, saw
the guitar and demanded a song.
I played "So Ya So," and they laughed, clapped. One even invited
me to play at his brother's wedding.
Then, about 100 meters away, the Israeli interrogation process
began. First you wait until the revolving metal doors open. A camera
watches you the whole time. The Israeli soldiers here are all young.
They joke and laugh like 18- and 19-year-olds do. There are guns
pointed at me throughout the interrogations.
I've been through it enough times not to flinch. It lasts between