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in Lebanon, reminiscing Israel – my mental jigsaw puzzle

December 17, 2009

My stay in Lebanon was an overflow of information. I was blogging in my Portuguese blog at the time and could only regurgitate millions of thoughts effervescent in my mind, which naturally brought back memories of my trip to Israel.

border Lebanon - Israel

Through my experiences, conversations, thoughts and memories, I attempted to put a mental jigsaw puzzle together; one that doesn’t seem to have an end, a solution. A puzzle that will never be assembled completely, or that the final image would never be sharp, only blurry. An image that obviously reflects culture, religion, politics and is ingrained in history.

a church, a mosque, a soldier - Beirut

I was in Lebanon during the month of May. Elections were in early June. Therefore, political discussions were omnipresent during family reunions. From what I heard, the vast majority is in favor of an independent country for Palestine. I had been listening over and over that they are refugees, no homeland, no citizenship, foreigners in their own land – if they were to go back. But we see all of this on TV.

remains of bombings - Beirut

I heard a young woman say: “We, Lebanese, have nothing to do with what happened in Europe, we have nothing to do with what Hitler did. Now the Israelis want to send Palestinians to our country. But here, we try to maintain a balance between religions; with more Muslims, this balance would be disturbed.” I should mention that the Lebanese Parliament has quotas for the different religious parties to be represented.

streets of Tel Aviv

In another conversation: A couple mentioned that during the holiday they were going to a city in the extreme south of Lebanon, where the Lebanese side was dry, arid and poor and just a few meters ahead was a very green, lively kibutz in Israel.

 Another person commented: “they steal our water and keep beautiful cultivated lands; when we reclaim, they bomb us – they are great neighbors!” (Laughing sarcastically).

Akko, northern Israel

I watched and concentrated to pick up on the French. I instantly remembered a conversation I had in my friend’s porch in Herzelia, Israel. My friend’s father talked about his job with irrigation systems. Apparently the Israelis are very proud of being pioneers and very tech savvy when it comes to irrigation, which is why in 60 years they transformed a huge desert in a green, productive land, with many kibutz producing diverse organic agricultural products. (Obviously it’s not the entire country, there is still a lot of desert, but it is remarkable how huge parts of the country are green).

It was all very confusing. I had been in Israel, stayed with an Israeli family, listened to their stories – about their ancestors fleeing Europe, brothers serving the army, their people seeking a motherland.

There I was in Lebanon, listening to other side of the story – that they steal water, receive American dollars to keep their army strong, that their soldiers hurt innocent Palestinian children. It was overwhelming, I have to admit. It was like crossing a border meant crossing more than a world that keeps them apart, a mentality, a history, worse of all – politics.

Thyre, Lebanon

 The “funny part”? My Israeli family said they wished to visit the Middle Eastern pearl – Lebanon, and my Lebanese family also claimed they have a certain curiosity of getting to know Israel’s immense and rich history.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 18, 2009 2:04 am

    You have some great shots here. They are so natural and make me really want to go to the Middle East to explore.

  2. January 4, 2010 11:37 pm

    You make some interesting points here. I think visiting a place like Lebanon would really remind us that there are two sides to the story and conflicts like these are never black and white.

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