Monday, November 06, 2006

warzone tourism

My visits always start with euphoria. Sudden exposure to high levels of sunlight and fabulous vegetables in the market prove to make me extremely happy. The simple things are so much better than in London: less pollution, better food, and a perfect climate. It's refreshing to be around Israelis: they are rude, friendly, lively, and being a visitor, things that would usually make me angry are just funny. Going out in Jerusalem, even more so in Tel Aviv, drinking bison vodka on a roof terrace near the sea, you would never guess a war raged here three months ago; and that a short drive away millions of people live under direct military occupation, or in the biggest prison on earth.

It usually takes me three to four weeks to swing back to reality, and then the encounter is ugly. Had I lived here, there would be networks of friends and work that would keep me going, linearities which I could follow. But as a visitor- the date of my departure is closing on me - I have just the glimpse of things here and now, and this glimpse is thoroughly depressing. To be sure, the war exacerbated things, but perhaps exposed some truths as well, about Israeli society. My own existence here relies critically on a detachment not only from the Israeli state but also from the Israeli army; yet because the military is interlocked so closely with daily life of many Israelis, this kind of detachment is extremely difficult to achieve.


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