Yes, arrived, at Ben Gurion around 3 am, passing easily thru security, the hitch when asked at passport control what I was going to do, saying, tourist, visit friends and holy sites. Asked names. Dug for notebook—oh, you don’t know the names of your friends? I wanted to get them exactly right, I replied, then remembered, Amos G, Danny D (I omit last names in this post because of security), Beny…ah, can’t remember his last name. Result: a 3-month visa, the best possible with no interrogation or luggage inspection, other than passing thru an x-ray machine.
I was wide awake, thrilled to be back in a sort of my home, alive, healthy, rested (I slept on the plane, fitfully, next to a Jewish couple speaking and reading Hebrew, with their tiny son often sleeping leaning against my arm. I had to be careful with what I was reading, mostly literature critical of the Israeli state. Would they turn me in if they saw?), very happy about M, and ready to write and post. The flight from Amsterdam via KLM, about 4 hrs, full flight, was in the dark. I was over the wing. The moon was bright and waning.
I must discipline myself and write about Amsterdam, observations, questions, conclusions—even tho I am now in East Jerusalem, residing for a few replenishing hours at the Faisal hostel opposite the Damascus Gate of the Old City. Later today I head for Ramallah, thru the horrendous Kalandia checkpoint (or border crossing as it’s rapidly becoming), then to the International Solidarity Movement’s offices where I can crash while I get bearings and find housing.
First, the museum of Dutch occupation resistance, the last museum we attended. There I learned that the resistance did not end with the first violent reprisal by the Nazis, but that strikes, sabotage, trickery and joking at the expense of the Nazis, and general non-cooperation continued unabated. Yes there is complexity, a variety of opinions, never full participation. The demand that students return from studies abroad to be registered and in effect incarcerated for instance. Many went into hiding rather than returning. Or the demand that all register for work assignments out of country. The Nazis offered exemptions but part of the resistance campaign was to refuse to apply for exemptions. The exhibit included a variety of views to this exemption program, ranging from outright refusal to willing compliance.
Ann Frank house
Earlier we’d visited the Ann Frank house. This was deeply moving, as I’d anticipated. Walking thru the same site with some of the same wall decorations stirred me. I thought to myself, I might have problems entering Israel or Gaza, I might even be deported while in the airport, but nothing would compare with the threats the Franks and their colleagues suffered. Not only deportation, but deportation to death camps. Only one week before liberation the Nazis murdered Ann at Bergen Belson. Had she survived, as did her father Otto (the rest of her family perished, out of touch with them she despaired, assumed they’d all died), she’d have resembled the woman interviewed for part of the display, her best friend, throwing her food over a fence when Ann was in a transit camp.
Out the front window of the Ann Frank house
The balance between artifact, explanation, and space was good—sparse objects and texts, setting off the space. We could duck where Ann and others had to duck, crawl around where they crawled, climb or descend where they had climbed and descended, pretend to wash or defecate where they had washed and defecated, as if their ghosts had returned to live once again in this small confinement. I could also appreciate the relative liberty afforded when the workers closed their shop (making jam): then the entire building was allowable. Out the window, the same window Ann might have peered thru, watching Jewish neighbors snatched by Nazis, I made photos.
A small portion of what we witnessed together. Can I show photos of any of this? (probably on my website, eventually)