In this episode of Wine, Women, and Revolution (The Socialist Podcast) Heather is joined by Benjamin Ladraa an activist and musician who recently completed an amazing journey. We walked from his home in Sweden to Palestine to bring attention to the issue of Palestinian rights and Israeli occupation.
A 5000 Kilometer Walk
Benjamin Ladraa recently finished a walk of 5000 kilometers which is approximately 3107 miles. The suffering of the Palestinian people really impacted Benjamin, but he felt most people really didn’t understand what was going on. He choose to walk to raise awareness. By the sheer aspect of it being such a tremendous undertaking, Benjamin felt this would help raise public awareness.
Thousands of Years of History
In 1947 and 1948 roughly a million people were forced to leave their homes at gunpoint. People were killed. About 500 villages were razed to the ground. This cleared the way for 80% of Palestine to be occupied by Israel. 20 years later that remaining 20% left was also taken when an additional 300,000 people were driven from their homes. Today Palestinians are living with no rights in occupied territory under a separate legal system. Homes are still being demolished and children are being imprisoned. In Gaza 2 million people are living without food, electricity, or water.
Every Friday since March 30th people gather at the gates in protest. So far 20,000 protestors have been injured. Israel has snipers at the border who fire live ammunition at the protestor. 180 Palestinians have lost their lives at the time of this recording.
You Aren’t Welcome Here
Mr. Ladraa planned to end his walk in the occupied areas of Palestine. The Israelis had other ideas. He was not allowed to cross the border. A new law was recently passed forbidding the filming of Israeli soldiers. Israel would prefer no light is shone on the situation. People like Benjamin are not welcome since they come with a large spotlight. He was held at the border and interrogated for 6 hours. They demanded the names of everyone he associates with, his passport, his social media profiles, and anyone he planned to contact. He refused to supply any of that information, so he was denied entry.
Mr Ladraa was not afraid because his following and Swedish nationality protected him. He met a Palestinian man who was not so lucky. He was stripped naked and held in a room for 6 hours where people would come and go. The humiliation was terrible.
13 Countries, Many Similarities
Benjamin had several different experiences as he completed his trek through 13 counties. He walked holding a giant Palestinian flag. He was stopped by the police almost every single day of his journey. On average though, people were extremely nice. In every country Benjamin traveled to he met kind and beautiful caring people. Everyone is talking about corrupt politicians and the housing crisis no matter the country. He also took note that everyone enjoys the same simple things like sitting down for a coffee or a beer and talking. The final thing he noted is every country is also afraid of their neighbors. It doesn’t matter who the neighbors are, we are effectively divided by national lines despite how much the same we all are. Its unfortunate we all share an irrational fear of “The other”.
Combat the “Otherness” with Communication
We all have prejudices. We are born into prejudiced societies, but the best way to combat that is by sitting down with the “Other” and having a drink and a good talk. Conversation kills fears because it makes friends. You find out you aren’t so different after all.
Do Your Best
All anyone can be expected to do is their best. Activists try to measure their work by results. We can’t just focus on the end game. We aren’t going to end suffering or global warming overnight. Everyone who is trying to make the world better is good. Benjamin reached a few million people, but he is in it for the long haul. Continue with your activism no matter what. Who knows what little thing my change the world.
Stories from The Road
On this journey Benjamin had the swat team called on him, visited 10 refugee camps, and spoke to the Croatian parliament. He met a man who was forced to flee his home in 1948 at 8 years old who has been shuffled from refugee camp to camp his whole life. His only goal is to go back to his homeland to die instead of dying in one of these camps. In Lebanon, these refugees aren’t allowed to own property or expand their camps. They are overcrowded and living conditions are grim.
Memorandum of Understanding
Under Obama, the US signed the biggest transfer of money to Israel in history. The sum was 38 billion dollars which translated to 10 million dollars every single day. That money goes to fund a military that is locking up little girls for slapping soldiers and oppressing the Gaza populations.
United Nations Calls It Apartheid
The UN put out a paper calling the Israeli occupation an apartheid regime and the US put great pressure on them to squash the report. The report can be read here : https://electronicintifada.net/sites/default/files/2017-03/un_apartheid_report_15_march_english_final_.pdf
Check out another conversation on Imperialism and the military here