Beyond Torshlussangst (German phrase which translates as ‘Door close anxiety’), the apprehension about travel is reduced now I’m in Israel. I feel mixed emotions about being here, excitement about travel to Israel to see family, meeting my first great nephew and to attend my nephew’s wedding then working on my ‘social work practice supervision project’ in East Jerusalem for 2 months. I feel worried about the length of time I’ll be away and excited by what I’m going to do here. Initially I hope to blog on how it feels for me with my background about being in Israel and in the future capital city of Palestine. I want to reflect on whether having grown up in South Africa under apartheid is relevant to my experience on this trip.
I’ve thought of Post 1960’s travel writing which I’ve read like ‘Travels with Herodotus’ by Ryszard Kapuściński and ‘The Rings of Saturn’ by W G Sebald. Kapuściński described Heroditis writing in ancient Greece as the first travel writing and visited places in the original work in his book. W G Sebald in his book about a walk from Lowestoft to Norwich, mixes walking experiences with his thoughts and feelings in a surreal way. Until I read the book I didn’t know that Joseph Conrad wrote ‘Heart of Darkness’ while living in the Seaman’s Hostel in Southwold!
I’ve also read Uri Avneri’s book ‘1948 A Soldier’s Tale-The bloody road to Jerusalem’ since I arrived in Israel in order to obtain an Israeli soldiers experience of the 1948 War. I’ve read the Jerusalem Post twice since 9 January to get a wider view about current events in Israel.
I’d be arrogant to try and express a view myself at present, Avneri’s writes in 2009 “If someone had told us at the end of 1948 that the Israeli-Palestinian war would still be raging sixty years later, nobody would have believed it. But that is the reality; this war still occupies the headlines, every day people are dying, and the gulf between the parties is not reducing. The conflict has it’s ups and downs. For 40 years the Palestinians have been suffering under our brutal occupation. Terrible things happen on both sides. And each side is convinced it is the victim of the other side.
The descriptions of the situation by the two sides bear no resemblance to each other. This applies to every event in the last 100 years. For example we Israelis talk of the “War of Liberation” while the Palestinians call it simply Nakba, the catastrophe. Many Israeli’s still believe the Palestinians want to throw us into the sea. And many Palestinians think that the Israeli’s want to throw them into the desert. As long as people think like this, there will be no peace.” (Page 5 Uri Avneri 1948 A Soldier’s Tale-The bloody road to Jerusalem, a Oneworld Publications 2008). From speaking with Israeli’s I’ve met since being here there’s agreement that their accounts of events in 1948 are different from the Palestinian views what happened.
This is my first Post, any views about it will be much appreciated! Before I leave where I am staying at present on 21 January I aim to send another Post an account of a visit to Herzliya on 13 January which I’ll call ‘A Day at the Seaside,’ showing how an ordinary trip can be affected by previous history.