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

March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS’s Losses in Syria and Iraq Will Make It Difficult to Recruit
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer Bernie Morphs Into Public Option Dean
Dave Lindorff
Budget Goes Military
John Heid
Disappeared on the Border: “Chase and Scatter” — to Death
Mark Weisbrot
The Troubling Financial Activities of an Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate
Robert Fisk
As ISIS’s Caliphate Shrinks, Syrian Anger Grows
Michael J. Sainato
Democratic Party Continues Shunning Popular Sanders Surrogates
Paul Bentley
Nazi Heritage: the Strange Saga of Chrystia Freeland’s Ukrainian Grandfather
Christopher Ketcham
Buddhism in the Storm
Gregory Barrett
Can Democracy Save Us?
Thomas Barker
Platitudes in the Wake of London’s Terror Attack
Mike Hastie
Insane Truths: a Vietnam Vet on “Apocalypse Now, Redux”
Binoy Kampmark
Cyclone Watch in Australia
Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail