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.   

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 03, 2015
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Atomic Era Turns 70, as Nuclear Hazards Endure
Nelson Valdes
An Internet Legend: the Pope, Fidel and the Black President
Robert Hunziker
The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm
Jack Dresser
The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook
Greg Fulton
Greece Succumbs to Imperialist Banksterism
Binoy Kampmark
Stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Failure of the Hawai’i Talks
Jose Martinez
Black/Hispanic/Women: a Leadership Crisis
Victor Grossman
German Know-Nothings Today
Patrick Walker
We’re Not Sandernistas: Reinventing the Wheels of Bernie’s Bandwagon
Norman Pollack
Moral Consequences of War: America’s Hegemonic Thirst
Ralph Nader
Republicans Support Massive Tax Evasion by Starving IRS Budget
Alexander Reid Ross
Colonial Pride and the Killing of Cecil the Lion
Suhayb Ahmed
What’s Happening in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
A Day of Tears: Report from the “sHell No!” Action in Portland
Tom Clifford
Guns of August: the Gulf War Revisited
Renee Lovelace
I Dream of Ghana