Friday, 6 December 2013

Polarisation and unexpected viewpoints

The view from the terrace outside  my window at Ecce Homo convent was panoramic. Hard to have such a wide and inclusive view of the situation in Israel.

Have been thinking - since I've been back - about people's thoughts and reactions to Palestine.
Remember talking at Ecce Homo convent - over my hard-won half bottle of wine - to an American couple about the Palestinian territories - they asked about my visit to Bethlehem.

I said how confusing it was - and how complicated. That the Palestinians have used terror to further their cause, which could surely never be justified.
What else could they do? What else is left to them? said my companions.
Was surprised.

Then remembered working at Christian Aid in the early 2000s on the aftermath of visits by MPs to the West Bank arranged by the Middle East team. The results had proved controversial. Christian Aid had achieved its aim by encouraging debate and throwing a spotlight on the situation in the Palestinian territories.
But Jenny Tonge, then Lib Dem Mp for Richmond, not long afterwards said she might consider becoming a suicide bomber if she lived in the Palestinian territories which resulted in her being sacked from the Lib Dem frontbench.
Oona King wrote in the Guardian:
"The original founders of the Jewish state could surely not imagine the irony facing Israel today: in escaping the ashes of the Holocaust, they have incarcerated another people in a hell similar in its nature - though not its extent - to the Warsaw ghetto."
The Holocaust comparison came up during our trip to Bethlehem - our guide Yamen had said that he had said something similar on a previous trip. A Jewish woman in the bus had become hysterical - shouting and crying. He was surprised.
But it's a meaningless - emotive - and ultimately uninformed comparison.

Reading and watching

  • Foot by Foot to Santiago de Compostela/Judy Foot
  • The Testament of Mary with Fiona Shaw at the Barbican
  • The Testament of Mary/Colm Toibin
  • Schwanengesang/Schubert - Tony Spence
  • Journals/Robert Falcon Scott
  • Fugitive Pieces/Ann Michaels
  • Unless/Carol Shields
  • Faust/Royal Opera House
  • The Art of Travel/Alain de Botton
  • Mad Men Series 6
  • A Week at The Airport/Alain de Botton
  • The Railway Man/Eric Lomax
  • Bright Lights, Big City/Jay McInerney
  • Stones of Venice/John Ruskin
  • The Sea, the Sea/Iris Murdoch
  • Childe Harold/Lord Byron
  • All The Pretty Horses/Cormac McCarthy
  • Extreme Rambling/Mark Thomas
  • Story of my Life/Jay McInerney
  • Venice Observed/Mary McCarthy