Learning To Love You More




Assignment #59
Interview someone who has experienced war.

Petter Alexander Goldstine
Brussels, BELGIUM



Petter Goldstine was an Art tourist in Israel and Palestine in 2002/3.
Petter Alexander Goldstine -- I know you spent some time in the occupied territories of Palestine some years ago.
Petter Goldstine -- Yes, I did. I went there to photograph the peace process. This was pretty much when I was just out of college, and in retrospect i was more naive than i am now.
-- How did you manage to photograph the peace process?
-- Thats just the thing, you can't. There isn't, one process to peace. It's the land of confusion. Everyone has a different solution, and most are willing to fight for that solution.
-- I remember you telling a story of one morning there around new years.
-- Uh-umm. Yea, it's one of those stories when two seemingly opposing worlds collide and forever after you change. A defining moment.
I was in Nablus, a city, more or less, in the center of the west bank. It was the day after a suicide bombing at the bus station in Tel Aviv, and a strict curfew was imposed on the city.

I remember waking those mornings in Nablus to the smell of gun powder, but not that day. I had slept in the Balata refugee camp that night. It was a clear blue sky that morning, and as an "international" i had freedom from the curfew. I started wandering the city. I remember stopping one point and looking up at the hills surrounding the city wondering if I was in the sights of some Israeli soldier.

Wait, I need to back track a bit here. My mom lived in Seattle and my dad in San Diego. So I spent most of my childhood summers at my dads, laying next to the pool reading books. Coronado Naval base is stationed there, so there was this constant drone of jets practicing maneuvers overhead.

So, back to Nablus and the sunny morning walking around deserted streets. I can't even remember the sound of birds. Suddenly I was hearing that sound I remembered so well from my childhood. A sound which for all of my life up til then signified calm and relaxation. The sound of Jet fighters. Only this time, they weren't practicing maneuvers. They were flying overhead on a mission. And it dawned on me, in my body, my whole being, that they were here to kill.
Bombs didn't drop that day on Nablus that day, but in me they destroyed an innocence I carried around with me, unconsciously, my whole life. The reality hit me with such a force that I couldn't move, I just stood there listening, traveling back and forth in time from my old reality to my new reality.

-- How as that affected your world view now, four years later?
-- Hmm.. I think it was about a year later that I was visiting my family in San Diego, and recounted the story to them. Quite emphatically, as i recall. And their response was something like; yea, so? thats what those planes do.

I guess I realize that all this war stuff is so intellectual for most people. I mean, we know its happening, and we know its a bad thing and people are dying and what not. But, most people don't feel it in their bodies. Its nothing more than a thought which disappears when the commercials start, or when they turn the page to the next article. It seems to me, if more people could actually feel, like they do for their children, there would be many more people working for peace and understanding. Or maybe thats not quite right, because I felt mostly rage when I returned from that conflict area. I think it was that silence I felt while I was standing there motionless that gave way to a sort of understanding. A realization that there are several realities.