Commiting ourselves

Saturday 26 December 2009
popularity : 94%

It is not easy to be different, act against the tide of what is commonly thought, accepted or experienced. We have heard all kinds of things about our project of going to Palestine. Our friends, the true ones who know us were immediately enthusiastic about it. Our colleagues and acquaintances were a bit afraid of our "recklessness" : you hear so much about those Palestinian terrorists ! And also there has been that war going on in Gaza recently ! (Explain then that Gaza is on the seaside, that we are going to the West bank, that is the Ardennes where everything is quiet, and that between the two there is an impassable corridor ...)

But the noisiest are the ones who at one go moved a few meters away from us and kept silent because we had "defected to the other side", that of those who are "a danger for our Western Society". Such people, for example, found it hard to understand that we could both take part in a visit to the Fort of Breendonk to pay homage to the Jewish victims of nazism and, as a sign of solidarity, go and share the everyday life of the Palestinians refugees, victims of sionism. For us, there was no contradiction whatsoever, nor any betrayal. Quite the opposite. Far from feeling torn between two loyalties, going to Palestine seems to us to be in line with what we believe in : it is all about standing together with the men and women a whole system denies dignity and even existence. What is the use of any memory work if you don’t fight injustice today?

Neither follow the pack nor be one of the three little sitting monkeys : the one holding his hands on his eyes, the second on his ears, the third on his mouth... Some of us left to Palestine firmly determined to "keep neutral", "stay objective", avoid being "prejudiced"... But we had been warned : once on the spot, it is impossible not to take a stand. If you don’t want to tell lies, nor fool yourself you can’t ignore who is the one destroying the other. You can’t believe or support what people say from here about the Palestinians : that they are a danger for the state of Israel. Humiliation, fright, powerlessness are clearly on one side. On the other side, you find the arrogance absolute power endows people with. As children on the school playground, we used to say "the one who says so is so". Psychologists set it out more or less the same way : you always blame the others on your own defects and treacheries...

groupe engagé

Going to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Naplouse, Hebron, Tel Aviv and Jaffa, as well as staying for 10 days in Aida refugee camp has only confirmed our first intuitions and we have come back convinced of the soundness of our original projet : testify, to answer back to the so many people who speak without knowing - because they speak from what they have heard or seen on the Western media only and not from personal experience. It is simply a question of honesty and human dignity : we knew we had to pass on what reality is like for Mr and Mrs Everybody in Palestine. This is all the more urgent as these men and women are stuck and trapped over there, prevented from moving about freely and coming here to speak for themselves.

The avowed aim of the wall behind which Israel keeps them is to prevent every hint of a surge of brotherly feeling between the two people, which from the Israeli point of view, is illegal and liable to imprisonment (for the Israeli as well as for the Palestinians - see account of our trip to Naplouse). This wall, in addition to clearly being an annexion wall (annexion of territories and ground water, see hydrographic maps) is a separating wall that aims at making the other one invisible. And once his reality is blotted out, a clean sweep is made for all kinds of fantasies : the other one is of course a horror, a danger, a terrorist... Nurtured on such representations of him, how can you still think quietly, honestly, healthily ?

While preparing for the trip as well as during the trip itself, we came across Jews who were "Israel-sick". We are thinking more especially of Michel Warschawski whom we should have met in Jerusalem and didn’t. We were told afterwards how discouraged he felt after what had happened in Gaza. The war machine is so much louder than the voice calling for peace and justice. And then there is the constant roaring of those repeating that there is no smoke without fire and that if so many people say the same, there must be an element of truth in it... The dictatoship of the majority.

As we are writing these few lines, a tune keeps running through our head, and lyrics written by the French singer Guy Béart : "The first man who tells the truth, He must be put to death..."

Indeed, as Marianne Blume says, it requires courage to be different and go upstream the general opinion, the politically correct, the comfortably accepted, the commonly sensed. Courage and work : getting informed, going on the spot and seeing for oneself... We invite you to.

Anne-Claire, Laetitia and Tanguy

Our travel