Monday, July 20, 2009

spirit of a place

In his travels through the 'holyland' Mark Twain's impressions of the Negev desert were as follows:

· “There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent- not for thirty miles in either direction. There are two or three small clusters of Bedouin tents, but not a single permanent habitation. One may ride ten miles, here abouts, and not see ten human beings.

To this region one of the prophecies is applied: "I will bring the land into desolation; and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it. And I will scatter you among the heathen, and I will draw out a sword after you; and your land shall be desolate and your cities waste.” No man can stand here and say the prophecy has not been fulfilled.”

The Innocents Abroad- Mark Twain

Seeing familiar places through a foreigner's eye is a transforming experience. A century
and a half later, the Negev seems much the same. Traveling through it is always a point A to point B adventure, in which midway idling is an impossibility. Localized initiatives and settlements are scattered through out, yet still this is an unconquered/unrealized wilderness at Israel's very backyard. A backyard comprising approximately 60% of this much contested land.