This week's blog post is written by Ariel, a Yahel Social Change fellow living and volunteering in Lod.
I hate writing for an audience, so writing a Yahel blogpost already felt daunting at the beginning of this crazy and beautiful adventure called Yahel Social Change Fellowship. At this stage, though, it just feels futile, especially after the East Jerusalem seminar. The idea of being able to put into coherent words the connections happening within me, both intellectually and emotionally, in a length and format that is friendly to the audience, is just laughable. At the seminar in question, we learned about the city, Israeli government, the conflict, the settlements, some other of the most challenging complexities of Israel, and on top of that, new and unexpected perspectives on all these. This being the case, I came to the conclusion that sharing what’s happening within the confines of my skull when approaching this task could actually shed some light on what I’m experiencing, which I believe is the purpose of this, and if not, you’ll just sit through my much-needed written-down self-administered therapy session. So, let’s get a little “meta” and [insert analogy about breaking a wall that is not the 4th, because it doesn’t apply, but illustrates a comparable self-reference concept].
Crippled by the futility of what I’m doing in this very moment, I first thought: “What’s the least I can write, while still applying myself, staying genuine, and conveying something that could eventually make any sense to a wide variety of readers?”. My sensible answer was a haiku:
The Sun is rising,
it travels westbound casting
shadows on the walls
But clearly we’re not satisfied with this. What does it even mean? Sure, walls, east and west, sun and shadows, all the absurd rules that English haikus follow, whatever. Is it representative of my experience? What am I trying to say? Why? Who cares? I certainly care, possibly you too, mildly. After all, we are (re)reading this, so we’re definitely interested at least, because caring implies investment, worrying, understanding, and a lot of very taxing high-level human dexterities which are pretty much depleted, if not deteriorated, after 8.5 months of this adventure, having experienced deep lavishing loneliness and overwhelm, having spread my mind beyond any previously known edge, and having completely demolished and rebuilt the concepts of adulthood and responsibility a few times, among other sanity-defiant experiences, and all this sprinkled with a global pandemic, quarantine, and feeling like the world is about to end.
So, back to finding meaning to my own words. I clearly didn’t hold back on symbolism: The Sun —God, life, prosperity, stability, reliability, severity, energy, means, power, outlasting, [...]— rising —beginning, cycle, renewal, revolution, growth, hope, change—, travels —freedom, sovereignty, anticipation— westbound —tilted scale, orientalism, right-left, right-wrong— casting —projections, dominion, acting, molding— shadows —menace, fear, danger— walls —segregation, oppression, imprisonment, fortification, a dam, climbable, tearable, artificial, [...]—.
Awesome, now what?
I guess I can see a couple of threads weaving all these in more than a few different designs. Some pretty obvious and grim: the Israeli domination over Palestine; the greener pastures on one side; the ‘western’ world damming the prosperity, and setting a stronghold over the godforsaken east; relationships of power, and their narratives. Maybe some slightly more obscure pieces: the pettiness of human conflicts in the astronomical scale; the greener parcels within the same pasture; the malleability and fluidity of the very many situations that seem to be one and the same; the auspicious ventures happening on both sides of the walls, building bridges over them; the power of narrative and our relationships with it.
Then there are all the more abstract things it barely hints, feelings I’ve had, ideas that have matured throughout the program that I still don’t see from end to end. All those things I’d love to pour on this, but don’t really know how, certainly can’t right now. Not to mention the vast ocean of abstractions that aren’t even near to being hinted here. Maybe, at least, some quote a speaker said, one of those that carved deep... How did it go? I don’t remember exactly... I was feeling uncomfortable. But that sounds appropriate, right? Yeah, I think so. It also sounds quite strenuous. Yes, that too, but that’s also appropriate, given the circumstances. At least we are a fellowship so we support each other through the ordeal. Well... yeah, sure, to the best of our abilities, it’s not that easy. That certainly has been a huge part of the learning too, although I don’t think it shows in the haiku. How could it? Wait, is it over already? No, there’s a couple of weeks left. No, not the fellowship, the post. Oh... but I didn’t come to any resolution...