Extreme Rambling: Walking Israels Separation Barrier - For Fun.
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'Good fences make good neighbours, but what about bad ones?'. The Israeli barrier is probably the most iconic divider of land since the Berlin Wall. It has been declared illegal under international law and its impact on life in the West Bank has been enormous. Mark Thomas - as only he could - decided the only way to really get to grips with this huge divide was to use the barrier as a route map, to 'walk the wall', covering the entire distance with little more in his armoury than Kendal Mint Cake and a box of blister plasters. In the course of his ramble he was tear-gassed, stoned, sunburned, rained on and hailed on and even lost the wall a couple of times. But thankfully he was also welcomed and looked after by Israelis and Palestinians - from farmers and soldiers to smugglers and zookeepers - and finally earned a unique insight of the real Middle East in all its entrenched and yet life-affirming glory. And all without hardly ever getting arrested.
shoots are carrots’ or, ‘Over there is a hazelnut orchard.’ When darkness finally descends, we are lead off the field by both the imam’s call to prayer and the green fluorescent lights shining on the local minaret. Getting into the village, Mustafa lets out a great sigh with the last of his energy, ‘I am sooo tired.’ He has quickly grown used to our company. In every village, the streets are lined with memorials to dead fighters: pictures of young men in green or black headbands stare out,
talking or walking or both. And what could be more English than rambling, with the possible exception of an irrational hatred of the French, and a lust for the death penalty? Indeed, what could be more subversively English than rambling? In 1932, over 400 ramblers took part in a mass trespass in Derbyshire at Kinder Scout: in defiance of the police, they walked onto the moorland to ‘take action to open up the fine country at present denied us’. According to the Guardian, the walkers – mainly from
their ID checked and belongings scanned. I work my way into a pen and hover at the edge of the fray. When the light above the turnstile turns green, a buzzer sounds, and everyone heaves forward. I am instantly pulled into the crush. The light returns to red again and folk reassemble their limbs at the appropriate angles. We are all wedged against each other, pressed into a close proximity that is somewhere between a January sale and sex. I spend much of the next forty minutes looking at a
Zionist left for you; always fighting and crying.’ ‘You really envisaged all of this before you joined?’ ‘Yes. I also thought it would help get me girls, too.’ ‘Seriously?’ ‘Yes, it is true. I thought they would be attracted to the masculinity and the emotional damage. And it works sometimes, too; mainly with international girls,’ says Itamar, in a matter-off-act way. Then, pondering, he adds, ‘But I’m working on that.’ * Much has changed in our surroundings over the past two days and
so the al-Kurds could guard against more settlers occupying their rooms. Nudging up next to the radio reporter, I whisper, ‘Who is this guy?’ ‘The deputy mayor of Jerusalem, David Hadari.’ ‘The deputy mayor!’ ‘One of them, yes.’ ‘What’s he here for?’ ‘Ask him.’ ‘You can be sure I will,’ I say happily. He might not be the mayor, but he is a deputy mayor, and he has just walked into one of the city’s biggest controversies. Phil winks that the camera is rolling. David Hadari has wire