I was walking around Jerusalem’s bus station looking at the stalls and the shops when this young man stops me to show me his production. He is kind, he asks me where I am from, we start talking. ‘So, you are a designer, a creative person right?’ I ask him. He nods proudly. ‘Would you like to be part of an experiment with this…’ I ask him while showing him the LEGO bricks. He is puzzled and at the end he accepts.
We go to a cafe and I do not waste time: ‘What is Israel?’ He stares at me and at the bricks. ‘With this pieces it sounds hard…! Should it be the present or what…’. I insist not giving him any clue. ‘Show me what Israel is’. He starts talking, and I invite him not to talk, but to build. He is uncomfortable. He is out of his comfort zone. Shortly he says he is done.
‘I’ve tried to stick to the geography… difficult to achieve with the bricks… what we have here is half Israel with Jerusalem… the only piece which was worthy building was the Holy city…’ ‘What is this?’ I ask looking at a grey brick curiously placed. ‘I don’t know…’ he is pretending and I know it.
‘You’ve put it there… there should be a reason…’
‘It’s a nuclear power station … it is an attempt to design Israel. You can definitively see that I’ve chosen the nicest pieces for Jerusalem and it is higher than everything else, it’s not only a geographic representation… there’s a hole here…’ ‘why is it here?’ ‘Pieces do not allow me to fill it up’. He wants more pieces. I challenge him and he keeps building again.
‘You see the shape of Israel, this is the ocean… I am now quite happy. It looks very dodgy though… I’ve put East of Jerusalem… There are a lot of dodgy people in East Jerusalem. You can’t go there… if you drive a car, you get stoned… it doesn’t matter where are you from…’
‘Why is that?’ I ask challenging him.
‘Why?!’ He shouts surprised. ‘It’s a big question… do you really want me to tell what I think?… why you get stones?… [It’s] because you are not a radical islamist, because you are not arab or muslims, they throw stones… that’s why… it is just the way it is, you don’t have to be too very smart to know…’
‘Those people is higher than Jerusalem in the model…’ I point him out.
‘It’s just a coincidence…’
‘So they are not taking Jerusalem?’ I provoke him.
‘What about this?’
‘A piece to connected to the nuclear power… if is still a nuclear power factory…’
The nuclear power is placed where the West Bank is geographically placed.
‘It’s not part of the map … And this is an old buried cave, where you bury the death… in the old times’ he keeps explaining me his model. ‘What do you think about my answers?’
‘Oh I don’t think, I listen…’
‘Come on, you must have some thoughts…’
‘I came completely unbiased…’ I answer firmly.
‘None is that unbiased.’
‘I am.’ I repeat.
‘You are an European.’ he says, like recalling my original sin.
‘I am a bizarre kind of European’
‘I wish it was true. It’s very difficult to believe in unbiased europeans…’
‘I came here because I want to understand and to see the good and bad things of both sides…’
‘And what’s good in Palestine?’ he asks provoking me.
‘It’s not you interviewing me it’s me interviewing you.’
‘In order to get, you have to give, you know? I have asked a question and I am really interested in the answers…’
I don’t accept his provocation. ‘I am not gonna to bias what you are doing…’
While we talk, he plays with the bricks and one falls on the floor and we could not find it.
‘There’s a poetic justice in you losing a brick in Jerusalem…’ he says.
‘The model has changed, tell me something… there’s a hole here… why there’s a hole in front of Jerusalem?’.
‘What are you talking about? a Hole?’ – he becomes provocative – ‘this is a road to Tel Aviv!’ and he goes on ‘This is mountains in the north with snow, this is a red fire because of missiles landing there from our good neighbours at the north… that’s a missile here, and then more here and we have this flag here, this flag is for the syrians doing the run for the border here… so it’s happy out here! You see how the model is evolving?!… It’s evolving, very nicely…’ he talks fast, ironic and grim.
‘Why the flag is for Syria?’
‘Because it’s green… all the arab flags are green…’
‘…And these missiles?…’
‘These are from the towns here in the north, because… I don’t know why things happen. I know the answer but it’s pointless to share it.’ he says.
‘Why?’ I ask him again.
‘Because, you know, nobody really wants to listen out there… this is a very hypocrite world. It’s full of hypocrisy. It has no room for the truth.’ I kindly invite him to share that truth with me. ‘No.’ he says firmly.
‘Do you think that I am a hypocrite European?’ I ask him.
‘Maybe not you personally, but somebody down the line, yeah… […] To be honest I have very little faith in Europeans. You might be great but the journals you are gonna publish it in, even if it completely unbiased… what’s the point? […] It is pointless to talk about these problems with someone who has no intention of finding a just solution that comes out of justice…’
‘I have no prejudice.’ I say looking him straight in his eyes.
‘Maybe you don’t, but maybe you are a great interviewer who is great at putting herself in that unbiased mode… Maybe we should do this interview some other time, after I do know you. I can’t really continue. This is touching some very sensitive issues and to be honest I can’t trust you. Not because you have any power but because you have refused to do the right thing for a long time.’
I don’t understand what he exactly means ‘What is the right thing?’
‘I don’t need to give you history lessons.’
‘I am not Europe.’ I remind him. ‘I am a human being.’
‘The UN made its resolutions in favour of Israel as a country with its borders and the British write a whole book about it… The truth is out there, go and look for it. It has already been decided, why this is happening right now and here… why there are people who are pro Palestine? this is already been decided…’
‘I know the history… I want to understand the reality’
‘You want the truth?! I don’t have much time for the truth. The truth is that you have been lied to, the truth is that you have been manipulated, the truth is that you have been sold the biggest lie in the last century. You’ve been sold a total lie, and most people believe it, people have no idea why they believe in, and if they go and check the facts they discover that these are lies… It’s like in the 50s’ when people used to believe that cigarettes are good… it’s a big lie. This is a big lie from whichever angle you chose to look at it, if it’s from the biblical angle, you can go to the Quran to look at facts, if it’s from the political angle, from the pre-Israel born state angle, if it’s from the demographic angle, if it’s from the geographic angle… whatever angle you look at it, this is not right… These people here, they never mind you, they are from here, everyone around you – there was nothing here – nothing is occupied. If you go to religious, this is the promised land… So what’s the problem? what’s the point?’
He is angry, he is shouting, he is emotional. And after those words, he simply stands up and walk away, leaving me there, in a small cafe in Jerusalem, looking for the lost brick.