Spot the difference

I’m back in Britain – for now. :)

My time in Palestine was remarkable – exhausting, thought-provoking, hope-inspiring, fun and tragic all in one go. My return journey is already planned, and this time I am taking with me a secret weapon against the occupation and injustice: my mother.

And if the socioeconomic protests that have broken out in Israel on such a seismic scale aren’t enough to topple Netanyahu’s government, her arrival will.

When I came back from my first ever visit to Bethlehem, aged nineteen, I spent the next couple of weeks in a kind of numb daze. I don’t remember much. I cried a lot, I know that. Eventually I would take my horror and my anger at what I had just seen and use it as fuel in my quest to do something, but at the time I didn’t think there was anything I could possibly do except cry. Over the past few days I have endured a muted version of that hopelessness. Aspects of life in Palestine keep flashing to mind, sharper than glass, causing me to recoil and think, “That is horrible! How did you ever manage to put up with that level of horrible? More importantly, how did it manage to become normal for you?” The contrast between British and Palestinian life makes my mental snapshots of deadly weapons and destroyed houses stand out even more clearly. For example:

Passengers on board a First North Western bus service.

Here you see people travelling into Manchester. I can’t say for certain, but it’s a pretty safe bet that none of them has a gun in there. Not even the moody-looking girl at the back.

Spot the difference.

And here is a covertly taken photo of a fellow passenger on the bus from Tiberias to Karmi’el. I wonder what goes through his mind when he gets dressed in the morning? “Right, I think I’ll wear the frayed cut-off jeans and my giant shades, and just to complete the look, I’ll accessorize with this edgy submachine gun.”

Culture shock doesn’t even begin to describe it.

A few days ago, when this post was still sitting in my ‘Drafts’ folder, I followed that sentence up with, “I’m glad to have a break from it all, though.” I am now deleting that statement, because fortunately certain elements of the great British public have decided to help me ease gently back into normal life by organising a little light recreational violence. I thank them for the thought, but I think they’ve gone a bit overboard. They can stop setting fire to things now.

Shai says:
you people need to smoke something and relax. :D
Vicky says:
I don’t have a strategy for this. I’ve never done riot dispersal before. It wasn’t part of our nonviolence training.
Do I go out into the city centre and appeal to their better natures? “You are worse than the Magav! Go home!”
Shai says:
you can tell them this:
seriously, Shai is involved in more peaceful demonstrations than this. and everyone in his neighborhood owns a rocket launcher!

Don’t worry. I may have left Bethlehem for a while, but my activism doesn’t stop here, and neither does the blog. As you can see, life in Britain can afford a lot to write about…

2 thoughts on “Spot the difference

  1. The guy with the rifle is probably a soldier, either on leave or on civilian clothes. He’s not carrying it for show, he’s carrying it because it’s mandatory.

    • He disembarked at the military base, along with a few others (who were in uniform), so I presumed that he was returning from leave and postponing having to wear sludge green for as long as possible. I was just amused at the combination of gun, massive sunglasses, and raucous rock music so loud the entire bus could hear. He did seem pretty style-conscious from the way he acted, and the outfit was well coordinated. :P

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