Friday, August 28, 2009

The Clubhouses of the West Bank

I've been spending much of my time lately in two opposite, parallel universes: apartment hunting in Tel Aviv while searching for outpost stories in the West Bank. They require totally different mindsets, and given the freakishly competitive state of the apartment market in Tel Aviv, I considered seriously at one point throwing in the towel and building a little log cabin somewhere in the future state of Palestine.

The monthly rental price of a studio apartment in Tel Aviv: 1000 dollars

The monthly rental of a wooden shack in the West Bank (subject to sudden evacuation): Free, but must build it yourself

Thank Jah I found an apartment, an overpriced pad 4 blocks from the trash-infested, fish-depleted waters of the Mediterranean. But for a habitual beach prowler like myself, close enough to heaven. My surfboards will be dusted off and I will soon be riding the petite slow rollers next to the Jaffa Port.

The world's attention is once again fixated on those pesky settlers, camped out illegally on the barren hills of the West Bank. What the world doesn't know is that many of these so called "illegal outposts" are not even really even inhabited, but are the temporary hideouts of a handful of quixotic teenagers.

Take Ramat Migron for example. It consists of 3 wooden huts on a hill in the West Bank. The place has been destroyed several times by the army and is maintained by a group of no more than 10 young adults between the ages of 18 and 22. They don't live there, since the place has no electricity and/or water, but they hang out there as much as possible. They have a gas stove to cook, prayer books, and mattresses. It is sort of like a glorified camping trip, where you not only get to be one with nature, but also get to piss off the most powerful man in the world. Who knew that being a setter could be so much fun!

The place reminds me of a clubhouse I once had as a kid. It is a place of fantasy, where you make the rules. The adults, or international law, has no say in the matter. In the clubhouse, you decide right and wrong. You can call yourself king or president or whatever. It is an imaginary world with no boundaries, or borders. The entire world, or the greater land of Israel, is yours for the taking, until you hear a familiar voice in the distance. It's Bibi Netanyahu, or your parents, calling you for dinner.

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