JERUSALEM POST BLOG 31 – Last year in Palestine
Last year in Palestine. Sort of. It’s 2007. I have all but packed. Well, sort of. It’s a tough place to be at, sometimes. Even harder to leave. Although the food’s delicious, for many, it’s becoming increasingly difficult by the day to get fat, let alone find ample reason to sing. You catch my drift. Nothing worse than long, drawn-out goodbyes. Except for Palestine. I loved it here. I spent a full tenth of my young life here.
I turned thirty, and we took a boatload of people out into the sticks. Simon, who’d considered reaching the threshold an unlikely scenario, also turned thirty. Simon who, pretending to be a rightwinger often tried but somehow always failed to post ludicrous comments on this blog. A noble can’t-beat-them-mock-them sort of effort.
We drove out to Tireh on the outskirts of Ramallah for two consecutive Fridays, trunks rattling with drink and other supplies. And by other supplies I mean more drink. We somehow also managed to engage in a little slapdash barbequing, brought super soakers, and a Frisbee, which notoriously went missing in the course of the first outing. Good Frisbees are hard to come by, and a lot easier to misplace than, say, a boomerang. We stocked up in town and rode out, speakers crackling with seventies oldies. A more than apt thing to do on your thirtieth. “The dawning of the Age of Aquarius.”
An empty hill dotted with stubborn shrubbery between the last Palestinian houses and an Israeli army base is our playground. A goatherd quickly shoos his flock away from our deprivation.
The days are filled heeding Erasmus’ call. Ramallah’s pendulum of tragedy and fun swings decidedly to the latter. Let’s call it a survival mechanism, a switching off. Be sure to bring enough ice to keep your Taybehs cold. Not that they’re given much opportunity to warm up anyway. Over the past three years, and in the course of these blogs escape has been a recurring theme. In a sense writing itself acts like a necessary valve.
My life in Palestine was not the life of Palestinians and so, dear reader, you’ve been spared the worst of miseries, the pain, humiliation, and thwarted hopes festering in your backyard, the seeds that Hummers and concrete mixers help plow under of hate and an assured lease on strife. It’s there though, as real as the joy, potential, ambition, friendship, love, music, curiosity, arousal, jealousy, compassion, and spanning bridges.
Ardent Zionists often point out how this land is too small for two peoples. In a way I’d like to concur to the point where the conflict is situated on too small a plot to be labeled anything but a civil war. And damned, we stopped the Bosnians from butchering each other, am I wrong? And yes, they’d still be at it if no one had stepped in and went “What, are you nuts?” The comparison is sketchy, but all paintings begin with a little penciled doodling. I’m not writing a policy paper here. These aren’t blue prints. A lot is just throwing up crazy ideas; a stick in the henhouse as they say. That’s how evolution works. A genetic lottery that now and then produces ideas that ‘stick’. So to speak.
So go crazy. Top your Turvey. Erasmus was onto something. Fun itself is a leap of faith, that sometimes produces real-world applications. It’s what separates us from the animals, I believe. Use your noodle for more than hunting and gathering. We need a new paradigm here. Fighting’s old. God is dead. This is the Age of Aquarius, if only because of the sports drink. We’re going to Mars soon. I say cherish your old books, they hold great meaning, but dare to peak at your neighbor’s narrative. We. Must. Move. On.
It is possible to escape, and cast away your worries for entire hours at a time. But…. This is the point where, at the end of the column, and of this blog, I smartly reach back to the boomerang mentioned at the beginning. This is the point where, for the umpteenth time, I invoke fun and then shockingly juxtapose with “Hummer!”
A great day in Ramallah fizzles out and I feel like a Jay Gatsby and Tom Sawyer rolled into one, some distance from the campfire, staring at a light. A glaring reminder; the roof-mounted intrusion of a Hummer search-light.
I’m off to Belgium now. So long, and thank you for reading.
1 | Jewchai, Monday Jun 16, 2008 So, what exactly did you do while living in Ramallah?
2 | Jim James, Monday Jun 16, 2008 thank you. if going back to belgium means you stop your stupid blog, then I thank you.
3 | Y. Kreminsky, Tuesday Jun 17, 2008 It must be wonderful to live in Belgium, a country so perfect that you have to go halfway around the world to find social problems.
4 | Jane Sinclair, Tuesday Jun 17, 2008 Oh, you’re going back to belgium finally? That sounds terrific. When? I hope soon.
5 | Jonathan Manfred, Tuesday Jun 17, 2008 We won’t miss you.
6 | Elizabeth USA, Tuesday Jun 17, 2008 Helo,Tom. Everyone is saying the war is coming. Are you going back to belgium for this reason? Tom, who was supporting you in Ramallah? The EU aid?
7 | Ofer, Haifa, Tuesday Jun 17, 2008 I’ve travelled to Belgium several times and I haven’t been in many places where the people hate each other so much. So Tom instead of sticking your nose into things you don’t understand maybe you can solve Belgium’s problems first.
8 | baffled in Bet-El, Tuesday Jun 17, 2008 I have never read your blog before, but now that I have, I see I missed nothing but another very spolied and amoral typical European who refuses to grow up (at thirty, you talk of my “young life”?!). Why did you come, what did you do here except pour fuel on the flames, and have a good time? Go back to Belgium and get yourself a life! (Also please learn to spell.)
9 | Morenos Spain, Tuesday Jun 17, 2008 I’ve been to Brussels once. The city was cold and dull like its people living there. I came home after two days. Money thrown away. I can’t understand why EU have their headquarters in such a gloomy place and unpleasant people.
10 | anton loew, Tuesday Jun 17, 2008 Anton from New York, I was just in Brussels and it looks like the the Arab World . Their are so many Arabs I felt as if I was in Cairo. The local people are afraid to say word to the invaders. Now I can see why you are at home in Ramala you must feel at home or maybe you want to counter invade.
11 | Howie USA, Wednesday Jun 18, 2008 I have no idea what this guy is talking about
12 | Seth J. Frantzman, Jerusalem, Wednesday Jun 18, 2008 What an amazing profile of the life of a European. This is the imperial life isn’t it? This is the way a European spends his days. He gets paid to relax and have fun and critique others. It must be fascinating, this bourgouise coffee-house lifestyle. No work, just play. Playing on the misery of others. I have saved this story and I think you are indeed the model of the shallow European whose lifestyle consists only of critiquing others and playing at their conflicts and living the good life on the dime of some foolish ‘donor’ or taxpayer. Europe deserves what it gets.
13 | jeremy gilmore London, Wednesday Jun 18, 2008 As usual a beleding heart european who has no concept of what real life is like for the average israeli, I am intending to make make Aliyah to israel shortly and one of my real concerns is that my children will have to go in the army and defend themselves against the very people you were partying with. Why don’t you grow and get a real job and stop interfering in thing that you have no right to comment on.
14 | BaBa, Jerusalem, Wednesday Jun 18, 2008 we stopped the Bosnians from butchering each other?? we? who are we? are you living in this world? get on the internet maybe and read about what’s going on in Bosnia. and really get a life kid and a conscience when you go back to golden Belgium – don’t start a blog about Whalonnie though…you’ll be in trouble…
15 | lila Silver New YOrk, Wednesday Jun 18, 2008 Self-indulgent gibberish from babbling empty-headed fool. You think you are cultured but you are arrogant and simple-minded. Your flighty words add up to nothing and reveal your inability to think clearly. Stay away.
16 | Steve California, Thursday Jun 19, 2008 God is not dead. You might think Palestine is a very small piece of land, but I have to let you know that it was given to Abraham and his descendants thousands of years ago by the God of the Bible. Evidence that God exists: 1 Israel being declared a nation in 1948. It was prophesied right in the Bible thousands of years ago. God said he would scatter the Jews thoughout the World and they would be hated by all nations, but he would bring them back into their own land. This is a civil war. It is between the God of the Bible,Yahweh, and the God of Islam which is no god at all. I know who wins
17 | Tom Kenis, Brussels, Saturday Jun 21, 2008 You guys need all the help you can get, whether you like it or not. Nrs 1 to 16, thanks for helping me make that abundantly clear. Maybe one day you can come and advise the Flemish on how to deal with their minority (-ies).