Jack Kerouac had his blurry, drunken delusions about Americana through the lens of the good ol’ “road”. Hitchhiking his way to the next sunset, seducing his way to the next big adventure. Read On the Road.
William Burroughs experienced “the Orient” through an opium induced, watercolor, non-linear rant known as Naked Lunch in Tangier, Morocco. The Interzone provided him a haven to be himself, where drugs and homosexuality were not frowned upon.
Lawrence Durrell wrote love stories of Egypt, particularly a quartet about Alexandria. Home, war, home again after war, home. Love, lots of beautifully inspiring quotes to pick and choose from. Kinda like Henry Miller; sentences and pages of ramblings until you get to that one line that just punches you in the gut and you eyes swell up with a past memory, a familiar taste in your mouth, the distinct scent of someone you use to share a bed with. Poetry, if you will.
I use to read more fiction.
The headlines on most Israeli newspaper the past few weeks seem to be predicting, nay willing, a third Intifada to break out. Yes, tensions seem to be rising, again, between Palestinians (in the West Bank in Spring, Gaza this past Autumn) and IDF soldiers along security checkpoints and occupied territories. Demonstrations for a deceased Palestinian prisoner, detained by Israel, are meant to show solidarity with the Palestinian hunger-strikers and Abbas is calling for a probe on treatment of prisoners in Israeli prisons. The first rocket in over three months, since Operation Pillar of Defense in November of 2012, was launched from Gaza towards Israel.
I received an email from the U.S. Embassy here in Tel Aviv a few days ago, saying to be mindful of travel to the occupied territories.
This is all relatively normal stuff, another day in Israel. The air has dramatically changed in the past few weeks from that of sticky, wet, bone chilling cold – winter in Tel Aviv is actually not so easy to bear, if you are accustomed to severe snow, below freezing temperatures and cozy, well-heated interiors – to a certain freshness. It’s not crisp, like in Jerusalem, where the mountains provide for a porous air filter, but it’s different lately, nearing the end of February. I can smell the Mediterranean these days, the faint breeze of salt and sand, like a warning of the unbearable heat and stickyness that is to come. But for now, the mornings are delicious.
In short, spring has sprung, more or less. Those juvenile teasing days, when you know winter isn’t nearly over, but changes are afoot and it’s not just the weather. Winter skin seems uncomfortably itchy, scaly, reminding me it’s not ready for tank tops and shorts…. it’s too soon, let’s hold on to the quiet of winter for a little bit longer, snooze button.
Purim has come and gone and the children have put away their costumes and are back in school. The news keeps on coming, the world continues to turn, new things are happening every day. By the time I get inspired to write something about something that is going on, something new happens, and I lose motivation because it’s not relevant anymore.
My Jordanian friend told me a story. She was crossing the border into Israel (northern Sheik Hussein crossing) the other day and was interrogated in “Arabic”. Actually, the 18 year-old female IDF soldier that works as a security guard at the border was asking her something in Arabic, and my friend replied that she didn’t understand Hebrew. The security guard got angry and reaffirmed that she was speaking in Arabic, my friend apologetically responded that her Arabic sounded like Hebrew to her. Their conversation ended there but all her stuff was thoroughly searched after that, including the two bags of Turkish Coffee with cardamon she was bringing back for me. My friend expressed concern: “Why does Israel put children, insolent, disrespectful children to handle border crossings to and from Jordan? There is peace between Jordan and Israel, so why the animosity?”
The children part I get, Israeli military gives way to much responsibility to kids that are not old enough to understand the geo-political ramifications of their actions, and they are positioned at every border, not just the Northern one with Jordan. And the fact that they are disrespectful, well, they are kids and they are given too much power to, again, understand the significance in the larger scheme of international relations. Why the animosity, is another question entirely, security seems to be a popular answer.
International relations are a bitch to understand and I’m grateful that I have people I can call friends; unlike state entities where the term friendship is indeed a foreign concept.
A former British Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, is reputedly once to have said of Great Britain:
“We have no permanent allies, we have no permanent enemies, we only have permanent interests.”