I heard a muffled ring, and my pant’s pocket trembled. My phone is hard to hear even without the cloth barrier, so I also have it on vibrating mode. I purchased the phone before coming here through Israel Phones, a company that caters to tourists, students, and backpackers in the so-called Holy Land. I’ve used the company before, and the call rates are fairly inexpensive. The silver-colored face is chipping and the phone number, super-glued to the light blue backing, is peeling off. Partly why it’s inexpensive.
I didn’t recognize the number, but I answered anyway.
“Hello,” said a cheerful female voice on the other end. “Is this Jonathan McRay? I’m calling from Israel Phones.”
“Oh,” I said, without the cheer.
They’ve called many times since I’ve been here, so I knew why they were calling again.
“We just wanted to confirm that you were still in possession of your phone, that it has not been lost or stolen.”
“Why is that?” I asked, although I already knew the answer.
“Several 059 numbers have been dialed, which is a settlement-area number. Did you mean to call these numbers?”
059 numbers are Palestinian numbers, and apparently the only reason I would call a Palestinian is . . . well, there isn’t a reason, because my phone must have been either lost or stolen. Presumably by a Palestinian, because otherwise a 059 number would not have been dialed. And Palestinians apparently now live in the settlement-area. This is quickly coming true. Illegal settlements are spreading through the choking West Bank like an infection, exterior signs of a colonialist epidemic. The land wears sackcloth and ashes from its burning olive trees as the existing sores continue to spread and new ones break out.
“Yes I did,” I replied somewhat tersely. Perhaps too tersely. I recognized that this representative probably didn’t implement the prejudiced policies. But I was angry.
“I see,” said the cheerful female voice a little less cheerfully and a little more cautiously. “And will you be dialing these numbers again in the future.”
“Yes I will,” I responded.
A brief pause followed.
“Oh-oh,” she stuttered. The cheer was gone. “I see. Well then, have a nice day.”