FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Mental Barriers in Palestine

by MATS SVENSSON

It is dry, it is hot. Black string bikinis descend the small steps meeting black flapping swimming trunks. They look naked thanks to the black mud. Both bodies entirely black, only the feet remain white. Salt easily penetrates the skin, making it soft and filled with wellbeing.

The water is salty. I protect my eyes, protect myself. I feel that I am constantly protecting myself. Protecting myself from inner conflicts. Protecting myself from myself, from my own anxiety, my prejudices, stories, childhood, education, manipulation, songs, sermons…

I’m filled with strong emotions when I look towards that powerful mountain, the mountain near the Holy City. Protecting myself from what I see, from what I feel, from what I hear.

Eat a salad by the Dead Sea.

I’m near, but far from, the conflict, the war. Carry a barrier, a mental barrier. Over there, there is war; here, there is peace. Peace behind a mud mask.

We float around like corks in this Shangri-la on the shores of the Dead Sea. A sea that is disappearing and which will soon really be a dead sea, a sea without water, only salt.

Take a shower; leave Shangri-la, the string bikinis, the flapping black swimming trunks, all the water pipes, lifeguards and happy children.

Quickly transported from East to West over the mountain. Pass through a checkpoint without stopping (driving a diplomatic car) and within two hours I am sitting on the Mediterranean drinking chilled white wine.

Sitting by the Mediterranean Shangri-la among fortunate children, fortunate couples newly in love, looking out over the sea that slowly goes to sleep.

The sun ebbs to the horizon and the children build sandcastles.

I made a quick trip through Palestinian lands. Two hours from East to West.

I exist in the same way as all Israelis, tourists, and most diplomats. Don’t need to see, hear, taste or feel. Palestine is felt for only a few minutes. No soldier stopped me, no wall, no struggle, no dead, no hospital, no Palestinian families, no discussions, no rifles pointed at me.

Lunch at the Dead Sea, a chilled glass of white wine by the Mediterranean.

In between were Palestinian lands I never saw.

Are they really there? Or have they disappeared like a shadow under an olive tree?

Just something we read about but never have to confront. We read about them in the daily news to understand, to be able to take part in discussions. But I never need to see them, be part of them, or taste them.

Tonight, I’m going through the latest political reports. Reading about Rafah, about the wall, about new settlements, about Jimmy Carter, about the economy, about the killings, about suicide bombers, about the children, about Gaza. I have to read the latest reports. It’s important, important to be able to take part in the discussions, to show that I am aware, that I understand.

To be balanced, I must know.

MATS SVENSSON, a former Swedish diplomat working on the staff of SIDA, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, is presently following the ongoing occupation of Palestine. He can be reached at isbjorn2001@hotmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 22, 2017
Mike Whitney
Liberals Beware: Lie Down With Dogs, Get Up With Fleas
John Grant
On Killers and Bullshitters*
Peter Linebaugh
Catherine Despard, Abolitionist
Patrick Cockburn
The Bitter Battle for Mosul
Ted Rall
Sue the Bastards? It’s Harder Than You Think
Yoav Litvin
The Emergence of the Just Jew
Kim Scipes
Strategic Thinking and Organizing Resistance
Norman Pollack
Mar-a-Lago, Ideological Refuge: Berchtesgaden, II
Fred Donner
Nixon and the Chennault Affair: From Vietnam to Watergate
Carl Kandutsch
Podesta vs. Trump
Ike Nahem
To the Memory of Malcolm X: Fifty Years After His Assassination
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Tough Talk Won’t Fix Chicago
Paul Donnelly
Betsy DeVos and the War on Public Education
Ebony Slaughter-Johnson
The End of an Alliance for Police Reform
Richard Lawless
Wall Street Demanded the Nuclear Option and the Congress Delivered
Liaquat Ali Khan
Yes, Real Donald Trump is a Muslim!
Ryan LaMothe
“Fire” and Free Speech
CounterPunch News Service
Bloody Buffalo Billboards
February 21, 2017
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Finance as Warfare: the IMF Lent to Greece Knowing It Could Never Pay Back Debt
CJ Hopkins
Goose-stepping Our Way Toward Pink Revolution
John Wight
Firestarter: the Unwelcome Return of Tony Blair
Roger Harris
Lenin Wins: Pink Tide Surges in Ecuador…For Now
Shepherd Bliss
Japanese American Internment Remembered, as Trump Rounds Up Immigrants
Boris Kagarlitsky
Trump and the Contradictions of Capitalism
Robert Fisk
The Perils of Trump Addiction
Deepak Tripathi
Theresa May: Walking the Kingdom Down a Dark Alley
Sarah Anderson
To Save Main Street, Tax Wall Street
Howard Lisnoff
Those Who Plan and Enjoy Murder
Franklin Lamb
The Life and Death Struggle of the Children of Syria
Binoy Kampmark
A Tale of Two Realities: Trump and Israel
Kim C. Domenico
Body and Soul: Becoming Men & Women in a Post-Gender Age
Mel Gurtov
Trump, Europe, and Chaos
Stephen Cooper
Steinbeck’s Road Map For Resisting Donald Trump
February 20, 2017
Bruce E. Levine
Humiliation Porn: Trump’s Gift to His Faithful…and Now the Blowback
Melvin Goodman
“Wag the Dog,” Revisited
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
David Smith-Ferri
Resistance and Resolve in Russia: Memorial HRC
Kenneth Surin
Global India?
Norman Pollack
Fascistization Crashing Down: Driving the Cleaver into Social Welfare
Patrick Cockburn
Trump v. the Media: a Fight to the Death
Susan Babbitt
Shooting Arrows at Heaven: Why is There Debate About Battle Imagery in Health?
Matt Peppe
New York Times Openly Promotes Formal Apartheid Regime By Israel
David Swanson
Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters
Michael Brenner
The Narcissism of Donald Trump
Martin Billheimer
Capital of Pain
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail