Land of milk and honey

Lebanon will not allow entry if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport
It makes no difference if you’re going to Palestine and have to pass through Israel, making future travel difficult

I explain to the Israeli border guard that I need a separate piece of paper for my passport stamp
It’s standard practice, but she runs through her routine of asking: where are you from, why are you here, what do you do, why are you visiting Palestine?
I try to oil the process, telling her my family is Jewish, but it doesn’t impress her and I have to take a seat in the waiting room for two or three hours

The Israel – Palestine conflict is a complex issue and I don’t condone what Israel is doing
Nonetheless, I realise that my feelings were shaped by my childhood and aren’t a rational deliberation on the current relationship between the two nations

I started Sunday school in the middle 60s, before the Six Day War
The State of Israel was less than twenty years old and, putting the current Palestinian problem aside, was still regarded by most people as the land of milk and honey

A unique experiment in many ways
A new nation for an old race in a new land
Living an outdoor life in kibbutzim with collective responsibility
A vision of socialism without autocracy


My teacher weaved a story of a magical land born out of adversity and fortitude, having abundant produce, offering freedom and being a patron of progressive arts

The architect Moshe Safdie designed exciting modern buildings
Concrete blocks put together like a half completed game of Jenga
A new beginning needed a new Architecture

Lost in thought I was driven over the Allenby Bridge to the Israeli border, crossing the River Jordan
Here I carried the spirit of that new beginning and was moved by emotions that were difficult to explain

Signs of the conflict were readily apparent
Teenage girls and boys; T-shirts and jeans; carrying  semi-automatic weapons checked our minibus and waved us through

Ramallah seemed normal, affluent and cared-for
The litter thrown against the Wall, infamously built to corral the Palestinians, was the only evidence of disorder; a passive rebellion against its imposition
Passing through the Wall many times I’d know if we were in Israel or Palestine: the Israeli side was clean
This wasn’t laziness on the part of the Palestinians, but a disrespect for something that was making their lives increasingly difficult

A war of attrition fought by restricting freedom of movement and using settlements as ammunition; built for political reasons, not housing supply
They scar the land and the relationship between Arabs and Israelis

This is a Gordian Knot that needs to be cut, I’m not sure how or when that might happen

photography and text by Tim Harris
This entry was published on May 3, 2016 at 7:30 pm. It’s filed under Palestine, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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