FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

In the Shadow of the Wall

by MATS SVENSSON

Today’s wall is longer, higher and it does not stop terrorist activities inside the West Bank. Houses are demolished, land is destroyed and people are dying.

It is night. He is dark and it is dark. The fear comes out of his eyes. He is being chased by dogs and behind the dogs are some jeeps and the men are shouting to the dog drivers to accelerate, it is going too slowly.

Yes, that is how I remember the beginning of the movie, the movie I actually did not want to see, and that I still wish I had not seen. The movie ”Mississippi Burning” remained within me and hit me in a way that I would have preferred to avoid.

It is the movie I once again began to think about when I read about one of the many terrorist attacks.

It was Sabbath, an ordinary Saturday in October 2008. A young man is out tending his animals. An ordinary event in Palestine. This was done during the time the village was occupied by the Romans and it is done today when the village is occupied by Israel. To get some peace of mind, I went down to Via Dolorosa to look at the old photographs that the Swedish photographer took in the late 1800s.

On Via Dolorosa there is a photographic studio, a shop that sells these old unique photographs. I compared the pictures with my own. The same rolling countryside, the same calm. The sheep are slowly grazing on the hillsides and in their vicinity is the shepherd. He has always been there. Close, protective and watchful.

And then I see within myself the next picture. The one that has not yet been published. The one that probably never will be published. It will never hang in the studio on Via Dolorosa since the picture was never taken. But the film ”Mississippi Burning” gives me lots of pictures. One just has to use ”copy”. A young man dies when a granade explodes. The sheep scatter and the shepherd is gone. The evening falls in the village. In the afternoon, a mother had prepared food to break the fast. Soon the family will gather for prayer and celebration. But a young man will be missing, a young man who has exploded.

What has happened? How did the granade end up there? How did a young unprotected man get a hold of this deadly weapon? Who talks about it, who follows up on it and who is silent.

It is not long before I read about the next event. I sit at my computer and constantly I hear beeps. I press ”enter” and see event after event. Reports from BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, New York Times, Svenska Dagbladet, Haaretz, B’Tselem… Everyone knows everything. I knew it before but it is perhaps only now that I really understand that everyone actually knows everything. Anyone who wants to know only needs to go online. This means that the government of South Africa knows everything, the State Department knows everything and the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs knows everything.

That time it was farm land burning. Farmers had once again just like previous years tried to grow wheat and barley. Around the village they had tried to cultivate the land that they owned, the land to which they were entitled. This had been done in the 1900s, in the 1800s, in the 1700s and even when the Romans went around rattling their weapons.

When I some time ago visited a place near the village I was struck by the fact that one basically used the same agricultural practices as in the Roman times.

Although slightly better tools, but still very simple and ancient techniques. I remember asking why, if there were no better technology available, I was told that they could not afford it, that the land and the tools would probably be destroyed or burned.

And that is precisely what I read about thanks to the Internet. I could no longer disregard it. I could have decided not to go and see the movie long time ago. When it comes to Internet and media it is not as easy. No one with knowledge about the Middle East and with an interest in diplomacy, international affairs, and above all human rights can stand on the side as an onlooker.

Together with the Foreign Minister and all other diplomats I read that attacks by terrorists over the past eight years have become increasingly common, and that during the Arabic spring has became more violent. People who tried to protect their assets have been killed and the land and houses destroyed.

Imagine, all this knowledge. Knowledge that is only a click away.

And just think, think about all this silence while the West Bank is burning.

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.   

Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
Ulrich Heyden
Crimea as a Paradise for High-Class Tourism?
Ramzy Baroud
Did the Arabs Betray Palestine? – A Schism between the Ruling Classes and the Wider Society
Halyna Mokrushyna
The War on Ukrainian Scientists
Joseph Natoli
Who’s the Better Neoliberal?
Ron Jacobs
The Battle at Big Brown: Joe Allen’s The Package King
Wahid Azal
Class Struggle and Westoxication in Pahlavi Iran: a Review of the Iranian Series ‘Shahrzad’
David Crisp
After All These Years, Newspapers Still Needed
Graham Peebles
Hungry and Frightened: Famine in Ethiopia 2016
Robert Koehler
Opening the Closed Political Culture
Missy Comley Beattie
Waves of Nostalgia
Thomas Knapp
The Problem with Donald Trump’s Version of “America First”
Georgina Downs
Hillsborough and Beyond: Establishment Cover Ups, Lies & Corruption
Jeffrey St. Clair
Groove on the Tracks: the Magic Left Hand of Red Garland
Ben Debney
Kush Zombies: QELD’s Hat Tip to Old School Hip Hop
Charles R. Larson
Moby Dick on Steroids?
David Yearsley
Miles Davis: Ace of Baseness
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail