April 1, 2010

Tel-Aviv – Bethehem

Since university, I’ve been aware of the story of Palestine. I attended some meetings, and marched in protest once or twice. My girlfriend worked for a summer in a Palestinian refugee camp in the Lebanon, and came back full of fire for the cause. England and work and climate change, though, have come to take up all my headspace in the time since.

In Tel Aviv, I struggle to engage with the issue. Our host, Noa, is liberal-minded and intelligent: she sees the inequality of the conflict between the two nations and criticizes fanatics on both sides, but aside from the occasional mention Palestine doesn’t feature much.

There’s fear, certainly. Noa tells of her neighbourhood coming under rocket fire. When she first moved to England someone had a rocket-whistle ringtone at a party and she dived under a table before she knew what she was doing. We ask Noa to come to our gig in Bethlehem, and the worry from both her parents holds her back. If someone gets it into their head to shoot her, her mum tells me, they won’t stop themselves. She will be shot.

Fear on a lower level too: another story we hear is of Palestinians coming in the night, driving big trucks into Israeli suburbs to steal Israeli cars and take them back to the West Bank. It’s hard to know what to believe, and harder still to comprehend such distrust and animosity between neighbours. Surely some of it must be to do with the extent of separation between the two peoples: Israelis are legally not allowed to travel to the Palestinian territories, and from what we hear it’s made increasingly difficult for Palestinians to move in Israel.

The stories have me thirsty to hear what Palestine has to say. We take a hot bus to Jerusalem, where every third person wears orthodox Jewish dress; an assortment of hats, hairstyles and formal black gowns.

A short walk, and we’re on a minibus to Bethlehem.

One response to “Tel-Aviv – Bethehem”

  1. Israeli Friend says:

    Good to note – the rockets we were under were Scud Missiles… sent by Saddam’s regime and was aimed at us without any direct involvement in what was happening in Iraq at the time. damn that Nokia ringtone 😉
    Also – the stealing of cars used to be a plague before the wall and has been reduced greatly.
    In an ideal world we would all just get along and learn to share… sadly that is not the case.
    The separation is needed. the grievances on both sides are in regards to the blatant stealing of Palestinian land and the control over water sources.
    Please know that there is a very large left wing, activist movement in Israel. People who go to check points and document the daily happenings, people who stand in unison with the Palestinians and try to make a change.
    I hope to see that change in my lifetime.