Monday, January 21, 2008

Theres only so much abuse you can be expected to take before needing atleast a little nap

I fought every moment to keep my eyes open. Fixated on the road ahead I resisted the urge to sleep, trying to burn every vision into my memory so when I needed to escape or avoid monsters descending upon me I could close my eyes and be back there. Years later I can still squint into the sun and remember Australia and the comfort that distance provides, or concentrate on the slush filling my boots and pretend I was a revolutionary standing against a cruel regime in the streets of Kiev. I’d channel these memories at times of hopelessness and despair and use them as a guard against the prevailing wind of doubt, to shield a vulnerable soul and wrap it in escapism to pretend that I am mighty beyond what my feeble body would suggest.

Alas, I slept. Up until this point I couldn’t, exhaustion punished my body, questions tormented my soul, grief and regret followed me around every corner of the old city and its icy feet kept me awake at night. I could see the veins in my eyelids and drifted off to sleep in a field of red.

When I awoke we were at Givat Haviva, they were some sort of NGO that deals with the conflict and brings both sides together to pursue solutions or something. A woman bordered our bus and spoke about the problems that proximity present. We cruised past the new subdivision on the fields where Armageddon is to be fought and crossed a flat valley to see the towns of Jena and Edin. They were a 12 minute walk apart and maybe 15,000 each, they were also in the news during the second intifada because suicide bombers from Jena would blow themselves up in Edin. It was hard to believe that a place smaller than the town I grew up in could produce suicide bombers, and perhaps stranger, that you would have to worry about it in a place like that. The wonders continued. We climbed a mountain and looked over an Arab city bathed in sun. From that mountain we could look east and see Jordan beyond the West Bank and the Mediterranean to the west. It really started to hit home just how tiny this country was.

Finally we looked down the hill at East and West Baarta. Once a single town, it was split in half and different citizenships were given out. The towns were predominately a few families who now had to endure the humiliation of checkpoints just to see each other. Perhaps the single most telling event of the trip happened when dusk hit and the Israeli side lit up, while the Palestinian side remained black save a few lights at the mosque. To the East as far as Jordan and to the west as far as the Mediterranean the trend seemed to continue. Out of the darkness of the east came the call to prayer as we boarded our bus.

Next stop Tel Aviv

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I quit half way through this

Sorry for the delay, been a bit of a mess lately.

Fuck off to all my friends that suck BTW.

So we’re back on Dec 17th at the Synagogue of Capernaum. We sat where Jesus taught and I regretted my black shirt. The sun was unforgiving but the breeze was merciful and amidst the blossoming trees it all seemed to balance to provide a tranquility that defied the temperature.

We curled in and around the river Jordan which is much more a stream than anything else. We passed a pleasant grove where pilgrims in white robes dunked themselves in the sluggish waters. We drove between impossibly high cliffs on our left and banana plantations on our right, the plump bushels were wrapped in plastic as they dangled from the trees and we all joked at their obscene nature.

We followed the coast past Tiberius and once again our tour guide pointed out yet another hotel. This was a habit that they had and I started to wonder if it was some attempt to highlight their flourishing tourism industry which was indicative of safety and to differentiate themselves from the Palestinians and flaunt their industriousness.

We then went to the Druze village of Daliat El Carmel, climbing out of the bus we heard the sound of gunfire coming from the valley below. It all caught us off guard as you could feel the pressure change in the air around you. It’s like no matter where it was aimed it still hit you in a sense. We all hurried across the street hoping to avoid the sound of its impact. I suppose the fact that it was fired in an unknown and inconsequential direction was soothing, but we all dreaded the sound of breaking glass or cracking cement. That would bring it to close for comfort; we weren’t here for the real experience, just the highly prescribed and manicured version. Taking back some lead would grant this trip some much needed realism that I was prepared to live without at that moment.

We spoke with a remarkably beautiful Druze woman who knew nothing of her secret religion. She had to live with the burden of being forced to believe in things such as reincarnation and abstinence without the benefit of knowing any of the scripture or doctrine behind it. It was a weird mix of innocence and abuse that was both heartwarming and frightening at the same time. You couldn’t help but love her as she batted her eyelashes while describing the insignificance of love but the importance of not smoking. Perfectly and politely she dismissed one after the other of our questions which is her “duty as an ignorant”. She perplexed us in her slender, fashionable jeans and her tight, tantalizing top and we all grew sleepy in the comfort of her charming voice. She seemed to whisper through plump lips how the family is the most important thing and we struggled to pry our eyes away from her curves to observe her animate gesticulation at the disgrace of abandonment by the community. Excommunication was the punishment for the thoughts that began running through the minds of every person in the room. We then climbed down the stairs in a bit of a daze to the chorus of fire arms.

I will end it there midway, through the day. Even know my vision is closing in on me at the thought of her.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Regret comes in many forms, luckily so does deliverance

From a mountain top in the Golan Heights I was overlooking a valley that was divided equally amongst Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. In the distance I could see the lights of Damascus and a purple and blue fog rolled in around me. My glasses misted up and suddenly my clothes grew damp and heavy. I squatted in an old Israeli trench of cold concrete and rusted barbed wire and called my grandmother. We spoke until I was alone and the mountain was completely dark. I was later told that her perky phone manner betrayed her feeble and failing body. She remembered where I was and what I was doing, and she was glad. After telling her of how I climbed the Mount of Beatitudes earlier in the day to the site of the Sermon on the Mount, we made a deal. I would be back in six days, and even though the doctors only gave her five max, she said she would wait for me.

What else could I say? I was so far away; she would never get the chance to see what I had seen that day. The lush green of the Galilee, the synagogue of Capernaum, the sun shining off the Kinneret: all too far away for her to see. And now that I was here on a bombed out mountain side on Israel’s frontier I thought about how much more important the morning actually was, and who derives to be blessed and why.

'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.'

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