Jonathan Brown describes in the Irish Times his experience as a runner in what he called “Palestine.” (“Running is a luxury lost to Palestinians”.) He sympathetically writes about how Palestinians are so used to running away from Israeli soldiers that they can’t conceive of running just for fun.
He doesn’t explain the context of the situation at all, as if to say that Israeli soldiers are only there to prevent the Palestinians from having fun and running for recreation:
With rifles raised to my chest, it is in this moment the essential difference between running in Palestine and almost anywhere else crystalises. The difference is between “running” and “running away from”. As words on a page, it’s a small difference. Even the physical action is similar – they both trigger primal human instincts. But the feelings they instil are polar opposites. One is endorphins, the other adrenaline; the certainty of your safety and the certainty of imminent danger. I’m caught between these dichotomies when I realize running is a luxury I’ve been taking for granted, a luxury lost to Palestine.
I’m a runner. And I live in what Brown would call Palestine and what I refer to as Judea. I agree that it is a beautiful and challenging place to run.
But what Brown doesn’t seem to realize is that Israeli runners and hikers in this area also have concerns for their safety. Every time you lace up your sneakers or hiking boots, fatal attacks on hikers and joggers niggle in the back of your mind too.
Just a few weeks ago, the PA celebrated the release of Issa Abed Rabo. He became the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner by murdering Revital Seri and Ron Levy 1984. The two university students were hiking near a Cremisan monastery in southern Jerusalem when they encountered Rabo. He tied up Levy and Seri at gun point, placed bags over their heads, then killed the two.
So when you’re alone on a dirt trail and you see a Palestinian, a part of your mind always wonders if there’s going to be a problem.
But what happens is the same reaction that happens between Palestinian civilians and Israeli soldiers hundreds of times a day.
There is a mutual nod of the heads and then the instant is forgotten.
Not everything is as full of drama as the picture Brown paints.