Occupied Territory

Ahlan everybody,

Today is a wunderful day in Vienna. It seems as if it’s finally getting warmer and summer seems to be just around the corner. Traditionally our bathing season starts on 1 May which is kinda hard to imagine if you spend time in Austria these days. It’s just been less then a week that I mothballed my winter coat and at the beginning of the week it was still rather cold in my summercoat.

Anyhow. I often wonder what makes the huge difference between Tel Aviv and Vienna I feel almost everyday. Simply claiming that “the chemistry’s just not right” is too little an excuse for not liking my new “second hometown”. So today I took those two hours inbetween classes to stroll through Vienna’s central quarter enjoying the sun and the beautiful weather. You see, I regulary try to make friends with the city I’ll be living in for quite a time even though that specific city didn’t welcome me with open arms as did Tel Aviv (I confess, I am spoiled).

So when I was walking through Viennas old city, with its beautiful old houses with a lot of awesome details on everyone of them and followed the crowds into small alleyways, to hidden springs and small gardens for a moment Vienna seemed to be beautiful and I could understand what it is that attracts thousands of people every year. If you are a foreigner Vienna for sure is lovely. But maybe that’s the point: If you are a foreigner. So to say: If you are here on holidays.

Fact is the inner, “first” district of Vienna might be more of an occupied territory then eastern Jerusalem. Not by military though and not as heavily detested but still. It entirely belongs to the tourists which are literally owning it supported by an upper class that does not only get rich by means of tourism but that firstly can afford the inner district and secondly hardly has the time to go there. So seldomly in fact, that when they go there every once in a while they feel like a tourist and therefor enjoy it as if they were tourists; part of the occupying forces.

In Tel Aviv it is clear that the city belongs to the Tel Avivim, the people living there. And they go down their streets knowing it exactly. There’s plenty of space in the parks and squares and in the cafés and – most of all – on the sidewalks. You can loaf through town daydreaming – at least as long as you aren’t crossing streets – and most of the time won’t run into anybody. In Vienna you have to pay full attention just to make your way through hives of tourists and the occasional group of Viennese schoolgirls who most of the time are just there to dream about buying clothes at the boutiques on either side of “Kaerntnerstrasse” or “Graben”. I sometimes think deep within themselves even they feel that this part of Vienna is one they don’t belong to. A part where another people has the hegemony.

Yet I know that the reason for Tel Aviv being different isn’t the most beautiful one. I know why tourists won’t come there and I really hope one day they’ll come back to Tel Aviv, Israel and to the Palestinian territories, whatever they’ll be called by that time. But maybe Tel Aviv can avoid selling itself out to tourists and find means of handling foreign visitors in a way that won’t destroy what I like so much about the city. But then who, if not the Israelis, know the importance of a place of their own?



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