The West Bank

I know I have not written in a while, but it happens once all that is unfamiliar starts becoming normal. So as I laid yesterday by the dead sea and suddenly saw 4 young IDF soldiers come parading with their weapons where all there was were tourist enjoying the famous mud, and floating in water I did not even take out my camera to make a picture.

 

Jericho looks as what I imagine Iraq to be. I sat in the terrace of the restaurant looking at the mountains with no vegetation, the central square, the veiled women, the blue sky while I ate once again Falafel, Arab Salad and  Hummus. I then took a taxi to the dead sea. Abu Omar, my taxi driver spoke fluent English and explained to me all about the sacred places we drove by. There is something of incredibly unfair that I a non religious person have seen some of the most sacred places for Jews, Muslims and Christians. I watched and bow with respect but do not get any touched by it. What always astonishes me is how this places can create so much conflict.

 

We drove to the Dead Sea and as we reached the Highway we have to put seat belts on. The road in the occupied West Bank is controlled by Israel. So it is the Dead Sea. Palestinians cannot go there. Abu Omar drove me. I had to show my passport to pass through a gate and then another. And there I was again with Israelis and tourists. No Palestinians allowed.

 

Floating is ok. Spreading the mud in your body is ok too. But being in a fenced area is just not ok at all. Abu Omar gave me a rose. A Palestinian rose he explained. And then we drove back to Jericho. As we were entering the city we were stopped this time by the Palestinian police. And again I had to show my passport. I had to ask why, and Abu Omar explained it was because Israeli government does not allow Israelis to go to Jericho so Palestinian police has to control it.

 

Most Palestinian I have met dislike the Palestinian police. The Palestinian police is lead by an American. And as many have never ceased to explain they have no power at all. they are just a puppet of Israel and of the West. The only time i heard something pro the police was by a Palestinian who said it was better to have them bc if a Palestinian harms a Jewish person the police can arrest them, before the IDF would create much more harm to many more Palestinians. So they looked at my passport and once again I was wished a good trip by a smiley young boy holding a weapon.

 

I sat in the central square of Jericho first with about 20 women smoking Narghile, then with about 40 men eating ice cream. They spoke to me in Hebrew. I explained I was not Israeli. I was puzzled they were that friendly to me even thought they though I was Jewish. I took a picture and in return I got an ice cream as a gift.

 

Fatah and Hamas have supposedly made up. NO one wants to talk about that. Israel condemns it, so does the United States. And the people I have asked here rather not speak about it. Before I made it to Jericho I went back once more to Nablus. This time because I had forgotten my epilepsy pills and Sam is influential enough to be able to get them to me without prescription.

 

There I met a fascinating Palestinian. He told me about the injustice within Palestine. How rich families pay almost nothing to Palestinian workers. He is a country side man, and lives next to a settlement. “They stole our land, but they are our neighbours for 20 years. we have no problem with them”. He told me he was against injustice. And said in Khalil/Hebron there was too much. ” “When people tell me to boycott settlement products I tell them, lets boycott first Palestinian products of people who exploit Palestinians. The Settlers at least pay fairer wages”. I was astonished. Really? How do people react when you say this, I asked. ” Some agree some don’t. But if you are starving what can you do. you take the wages they give you. but there is too much unfairness within Palestinian society.”

 

So I write less and less. Maybe it is because all this incoherence becomes more and more familiar. My initial cognitive anthropological questions no longer interest me. As a result of seeing how irreconcilable my initial PhD questions, and the reality here is I decided once and for all to quit my PhD. As I have only one week left in the middle east I take every second with care, and awareness and I really have not idea where and what will I do very soon.

 

The West Bank is at the same time very similar and a world apart from Latin America. It is very similar in its disorganisation, in the possibility of creating everything anew every day, to find ways to solve problems that do not involve talking to any institution. It is very different in that they cover, they do not touch, they do not laugh as much as we do in Brasil. At least not in the streets.

 

Tonight I will have my first concert in Palestine. In a little restaurant in Beit Sahour. I will play once again Brazilian music as I did one of these days at the request of a friend. The owner invited me to play a concert. I said I was a bit embarrassed to do so, he insisted. “Don’t worry. Here were are just family.”

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