During the last twelve months I have been to New York (Post September 11th), and Belfast in Norther Ireland twice. The similarity between them all is that once people realise you are an outsider and therefore possibly impartial or impervious to the local political situation, then they try their best to educate you in some way about it. At the end of normally quite a philisophical dialogue one hears nearly always the same phrase, "what can you do?". Anyone who's political would probably leap up at this opportunity suggesting all possible ways in which the person may be able to have some impact, however that would miss the point. That being that rightly or wrongly people's perceptions regarding these conflicts is "it's gone on so long, everything's been tried what else can we do!?". In a way there's an element of truth because in a sense once conflict becomes a physical one then a spiral of vengeance takes place until eventually some of the emotional power of the situation is dissipated, at which point people attempt to negotiate once again. At the moment Northern Ireland is trying to stay within the realms of negotiation and Israel is caught up in a spiral of tit for tat killings. The nastiness of the conflict is very moving and shocking over here, two Israeli girls are stabbed to death, another two Israeli female soldiers are gunned down. The latters killers are killed in situ, and one of the formers killers dies in the ensuing chase of a possible heart attack. Meanwhile Israeli hardware hits hard where it hurts in areas where Palestinian's live. All this will continue unabated for who knows how long. Eventually it will come full circle and the same issues will need to be addressed that were seen as impassible when the last break down in negotiations occurred and the breakdown of so many peoples lives and loves started. I am not peace mongering because I know that if anyone killed my kids I would do everything possible to kill them, and I realise that at the end of that I would still have to negotiate the loss of my lovely child / children. The problem it seems to me is not one of politics but of the difficulty for humans to act on reason alone.
Last night I went to a friend's place and ended up watching an episode of THE SOPRANOS I'd seen last week in London. In it a young man is shot to death as a vengeance. After his funeral one of the mafia family members sings a beautiful Italian song whose title roughly translates as Ungrateful Heart. The juxtapositioning of of the intimate and abstract / collective approach to relationships is beautifully illustrated in some lines from a Bruce Springsteen song, which are "On one hand was tatooed the word love, and on the other was the word fear, and in which hand he held his faith was never clear".
Today I sat in a Tel Aviv cafe, two years ago this place had been packed but now there may have only been 3 tables occupied. The owner said he spent most of time at the beach and closed early nowadays. Earlier over breakfast I'd looked out on to the beach and watched people doing their stuff and was reminded of the classic image of LA beach life, except over here attack helicopters frequently fly overhead. Still if you're going to live in a place under seige it's better to be in one with good weather, beaches and clear seas.
This evening one of my cousins has driven me up to the North for a family get together. I have installed a copy of Unreal Tournament (a violent computer game) on to their computer so that they may be lured in to a sim ilar addiction that Ihave for the game too. That way if I can slowly get everyone else in the world addicted to it then I will be one of the normal people again. After I installed the game my cousin came up to me as I was demonstrating it and handed me a pistol like device. He said try this. I asked him if it was a kind of wireless mouse / game pad. "No" he said "it's a Barretta Pistol". In England you rarely come up close to guns but over here they are everywhere. When I was last at a bus station there was a pile of M16 machine guns next to a group of 18 year old soldiers. When I look at 18 year olds at home I wouldn't trust them with a water pistol.
Tomorrow we shall possibly make our way to the Golan heights