Since the previous piece was written for a specific audience within a specific word limit, I feel I should add a few more thoughts about my experience in Palestine and Israel before I put this blog to bed. That is, until the next Middle Eastern adventure—I'm positive there will be another one.
I would be lying if I told you that I went there as a political activist. I didn't, although I wouldn’t blame you for thinking so judging by the tone of my inital posts. Really, I went there as a person looking for new experiences in a part of the world that I find incredibly interesting. And of course, being an aspiring journalist, I decided I would write about it. As far as work goes, the writing came first and what little activism I did came second. Such is the egotism which many writers share.
I was thinking I would return home charged up and ready to dedicate my life to helping the Palestinians, perhaps by educating my fellow Americans on the matter with the hard-earned credibility of someone that actually went there. And maybe some sort of campaign like that is in my future. But that requires a stationary dedication, and what this trip did above all was make me want to see more things and meet more people. As far as the Middle East goes, Syria is at the top of my list right now. As for the world in general, I have many places to stay thanks to the amazing network of international folks I met there. Switzerland, here I come!
The fact that things seemed so...normal out in Palestine also had the subtle effect on implanting this "It's not that bad" mentality inside of me which softened my burning indignation at the whole affair. I know that this perception is not accurate, that it is a totally different reality for a Palestinian in occupied Palestine than a white international. And I know things could easily get worse at the drop of a hat—as they have before. But I still, almost all of my memories from Palestine have been pleasant, of going to weddings and bars and the juice shop on the corner, watching movies at the French-German cultural center or playing basketball at the church. Even the tours and exhibits of some of the most fucked-up things imaginable were enjoyable because of the company that I was with. I will look back on this trip fondly, perhaps a bit too fondly.
Now back in America where alcohol and skin are plentiful once more, I am already feeling the itch to return to the Holy Land. You'd be surprised at how much happier and freer you can feel without most of your possessions. And now they're all back around me, needing attention and maintenance. The bills need to be paid, this rat-infested old house needs to be cleaned, and deadlines need to be met. Immediately thrown back into the grind, it was if I never left—luckily I've got plenty of keepsakes tacked up on the wall behind this computer monitor to remind me that yes, I really was there. And someday, hopefully soon, I'll be back.
Thanks for reading!
A couple quick plugs:
*Keep an eye out for a book titled Fast Times in Palestine, written by a fellow American, Pam Olson. I'm admittedly envious of Pam because she's actually doing what I've only dreamed of: writing a book about her experiences in Palestine and making presentations about her time there to American audiences, including the staff of Google earlier this year.