/ ARTICLE: Adam Ondra in Israel & Occupied Palestine: Climb Free
If anyone is interested in the history of Israel/Palestine: there's an amazing podcast series called Fear and Loathing in the New Jerusalem by Martyrmade podcasts. The guy who put it together is an incredible story teller. He really sets the context for the birth of the Jewish state by detailing the previous hundred+ years for both peoples. (also makes the British empire look pretty evil along the way) It's incredibly entertaining and thorough ... it's also very long. But well worth it.
Adam seems like such a nice guy and a great ambassador for our sport, but on this occasion I think he got things very wrong!
I will always give someone of Adam Ondra's character and genuine honesty the benefit of the doubt but the naivety shown by his visit to climb in Israel and the Occupied West Bank and the lack of understanding of the extent of the oppression of Palestinians in their own land is breathtaking.
> ... but on this occasion I think he got things very wrong!
Why? For visiting those areas at all?
> ...........lack of understanding of the extent of the oppression of Palestinians in their own land is breathtaking.
Where in the article is this "lack of understanding" shown? To me, if anything, what came across was an interest in and willingness to understand the problems.
When Ofer says "It belongs to us", is he referring to the occupied territories? It's not clear by the way it's article is written. The whole situation in Israel is f*cked up and it's impossible to sit on the fence. If I understand correctly Adam exposure has been used to facilitate access to Israel crags, some in occupied territories?
Yeah, that line was almost mystical in its vagueness. I read it charitably as the Israeli saying the conflict belongs to them, as in ''we need to own it".
I'm not sure if the next bit was written oddly in German or translated poorly:
"Ofer explains the three areas that have shared the West Bank since the Oslo Accords, A: full civil and security control by the Palestinian Authority, B: Palestinian civil control and joint Israeli-Palestinian security control, and C: full Israeli civil and security control. Two-thirds of the West Bank are Area C."
Understanding the different control areas in the West Bank is important for people outside the region to understand why most countries round the world call Gaza/West Bank, the Occupied Territories still.
It does somewhat appear that the celebrity of Ondra has been used to promote crags which have strictly controlled access along racial/national lines. His wish to "save fighting" for where it matters seems a selfishly motivated goal when reports speak of limited access to healthcare, vital transport links, even food, water and power for most Palestinians. Wonder if he had an Egypt stamp in his passport before the visit? Maybe then he would have felt what it's like for the unprivileged. This whole excursion has had a tone deaf element throughout. I am certainly less impressed by Ondra's intelligence, insight and astuteness if not his ability to hold onto rocks the best.
I'm afraid the article glosses over most of the major issues: for example
"Which area are we entering now?"
Palestinians are allowed to climb there, but their access to the area is not nearly as easy as ours. They are not allowed to pass a nearby Israeli settlement; they can only reach the cliff via a detour."
Why do you think they have to make a detour. Because they are likely to be attacked if they don't!
Consider the inequality in this article:
"Only 53 Israeli settler youths were arrested for stone-throwing over the past six years, the data shows, and 89 percent were released without charge. Six were indicted. Four of those were found "guilty without conviction," a common sentence for Israeli juveniles that aims not to stain their record. One was cleared. The sixth case was still in court as of October, the most recent information available.
By contrast, 1,142 Palestinian youths were arrested by police over the same period for throwing stones, and 528 were indicted. All were convicted. Lawyers say the penalty is typically three to eight months in military prison."
The mistreatment of young Palestinians, such as Ahed Tamimi, who are tried by military courts is accentuated by the ban on anyone under 35 leaving the Occupied territories. Not much chance of a Palestinian climber going to Font!
Sadly, the above is just the tip of a very big iceberg.
Edit: not saying this is the only thing by any means but don't be misled that Palestinian leader's aims are the same as the desires and needs of the Palestinian man in the street.
Why do you think they have to make a detour. Because they are likely to be attacked if they don't!
LOL, I don't think so. It's a defensive policy to reduce the likelihood of attacks by Palestinians on Israeli settlements. Whether those measures are reasonable would depend on your view on whether settlements should be there or not but that is a whole other debate.
While I imagine that all Adam wanted to do was to climb I don't believe he should have gone to Israel.
The world's sportsmen (I include climbers here) should have nothing to do with Israel just as the world had nothing , sports wise, to do with South Africa until they started to relax their apartheid laws.
So illegal settlements are claiming more land around them to protect themselves. I think you underestimate the imbalance of power here. Settlers guns backed up by the military against stone-throwing youths!
When I was in Nablus, in the Balata refugee camp, the Palestinian guide pointed to the beautiful hills and said that they couldn't go up and picnic there like they used to, because they would be in danger of being shot at by settlers.
> The world's sportsmen (I include climbers here) should have nothing to do with Israel just as the world had nothing , sports wise, to do with South Africa until they started to relax their apartheid laws.
An individual (even if it is Ondra) going climbing is very different from someone or a team going representing their country in a competitive sport. To me Ondra going is no different to any other tourist (of course you could argue that tourists should not go either).
> I'm afraid the article glosses over most of the major issues: for example
> "Which area are we entering now?"
> "Area C."Palestinians are allowed to climb there, but their access to the area is not nearly as easy as ours. They are not allowed to pass a nearby Israeli settlement; they can only reach the cliff via a detour."
In what way is that glossing it over? It makes the inequality clear. I think the article is quite enlightening about some of the injustices with respect to climbing (and it is, after all, a climbing article). For instance, I was not aware, until I read it about the A, B, C areas.
Adam Ondra makes the news. That makes him different. You'll also note that the Israeli tourist board were assisting him. That again makes him different from ordinary climbers.
I understood it to mean 'the conflict belongs to us'...as in 'the conflict is a part of us.' That's a direct translation from the German (Ich frage Ofer, ob es ermüdend sei, immerzu mit dem Konflikt konfrontiert zu werden. „Er gehört zu uns“, sagt er.) which I assume is a direct translation of Ofer's phrase in English and makes sense if English is his second language and it's not quite clear. Triple-layer translation - interesting! I can see where the confusion in English might lie since in German the corresponding article and subject make it clear. I've repeated 'the conflict' for clarity now.
Toby: That section was taken from a Wiki page on the areas to ensure it was official and correct, rather than recording verbatim what Ofer said. Sounds a bit stilted, perhaps.
> Adam Ondra makes the news. That makes him different.
True. So I suppose it depends on whether you think the article is a positive or a negative thing (or neutral). As I said, I think that, if anything, the article shows Ondra as genuinely interested in the area's problems and enlightening about the issues, so I would argue that he is using his profile positively.
I haven't read the article yet, only the comments on here. Anyone who puts someone like Ondra on a pedestal has issues. He is not a spokesman for all that is fair and good in the world. He should be free to say or do whatever he wants regardless of whether you agree or not.
Travel is one of the most valuable things we can do. It informs us in ways that nothing else quite can. I travelled alone through Israel, the West Bank and Gaza just before the Second Intifada and it opened my eyes to some of the problems going on over there. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not black and white. It is grey, grey, grey.
And the reference to South Africa? I nearly lost my life in Central Johannesburg in 1998 at the hands of two armed blacks. I don't blame them for what they did. The experiences I had across South Africa taught me that their actions were symptomatic of their upbringing and environment. And don't be under any illusion, apartheid is far from over down there.
What about Kosovo? Off limits too or deserving of sympathy after its bitter (and ongoing) conflict with Serbia? I was there a few years ago, entering the country by bus from Albania about a week after the Scottish referendum. I had an insightful (at first very diplomatic!) conversation with the Kosovan border guard re independence, and similarly with countless Kosovars during my time there. In the interest of balance, two years before I had been in Serbia, and later stayed for a while with a Serb family in Montenegro.
The world is far from perfect but to shut it out only encourages ignorance and signals the end for human growth and understanding.
> Edit: not saying this is the only thing by any means but don't be misled that Palestinian leader's aims are the same as the desires and needs of the Palestinian man in the street.
I think you may be committing a straw man fallacy, I made no reference to the Palestinian leadership, and am well aware they are not without fault. My original post pointed towards the inequality and unprivileged existence of an entire race and nationality i.e the people of Palestine. I have had friends experience both sides of the divide and, whilst I support the preservation of Jewish culture, in my opinion the Palestinians by far have the rawer deal. I am open to hearing how I may be wrong, but not for being attacked for things I have not said.
Thanks for clarifying, lost in triple layer translation.
Reading the article Ondra strikes me as being quite naive about the politics of Israel with little advance knowledge. He doesn't strike me as somebody who has done his research in advance and made an informed decision on whether to go and why. Being interested upon arrival is a bit late when you've been invited by the Ministry of Tourism to help promote tourism. It could just be the article of course.
But they are fine to visit the Gaza strip even though they are ruled by a democratically elected terrorist organisation that has a stated aim of driving Israel into the sea?
I wish people considered both sides fairly. Neither is right, there is only grey and to support a black and white arguement doesn't help anything.
> But they are fine to visit the Gaza strip even though they are ruled by a democratically elected terrorist organisation that has a stated aim of driving Israel into the sea?
> I wish people considered both sides fairly. Neither is right, there is only grey and to support a black and white arguement doesn't help anything.
One person's 'terrorist' is another person's 'rebel' though. Just look at Syria (the Kurds for example). It depends which side you are on.
Re Gaza, the Israeli government used to say the same about the West Bank in that there could never be negotiations with the Palestinians so long as the 'terrorism' on their part continued. Ironically, despite the wall being built and the Palestinian government having given up armed struggle, all that has happened is that the Israel government has even less need/desire to negotiate any sort of a settlement. The same would no doubt happen to Gaza, so I can't see how that can bee deemed the root of the problem. So long as there is a nationalist government elected, with US backing, I think we'll continue to see the slow annexation of Palestinian areas through expanding Israeli settlements.
> It depends which side you are on.
Both sides deliberately kill children in order to pursue their cause. I find it quite hard to be on either side.
> The world's sportsmen (I include climbers here) should have nothing to do with Israel...
What would you want Israel to do?
> Where in the article is this "lack of understanding" shown?
The article only mentions Adam Ondra talking about the political situation to Israelis. Palestinian climbers generally speak good English and are incredibly welcoming. It would be a real shame if Adam had not engaged with them. I'm sure he would have heard a very different version of history!
Nina Caprez was invited to climb in Palestine by the Israeli climbing club in 2014 for an international meet. She had reservations about going and only accepted with the caveat that she would climb with Palestinians as well as Israelis. She said it was the only time in her life where climbing felt like a political act.
> What would you want Israel to do?
Well they could start complying with UN resolutions. Basically not stealing Palestinian land and water or trampling on their human rights. That would be a start.
Having said all that, as a supporter of Israel, I am very disquieted by their settlement policy. I understand it's because of the internal political pressure from the right but from an external point of view it seems wrong on so many levels. I think they should have frozen it many years ago. Might have actually helped with peace negotiations.
Thank you. The article is a brilliant but tragic resume of the whole settlement project. I have visited Bethlehem, Nablus and Hebron, and seen these fortress like outposts, dominating the land and dividing the land with Israeli only roads. The life of Palestinians is hedged about with barriers, restrictions and threats. Regarding access to the land for walking or climbing, it is very difficult and dangerous, as you can read in the sad but beautiful book by Raja Shahadeh, called Palestinian Walks: Notes on a vanishing landscape. Another revealing book is Walking the Wall by Mark Thomas. The film about climbing in Palestine on another thread is a sad but timely reminder of the courage of Palestinians in the face of continuing injustice.
So the poor bloke can't go climbing there because it upset some of the locals. Ondra was right to go as the sport is supposed to transcend all differences. He comes across very well in this.
> Also, there are two types of UN resolution and most of them are "advisory" which most people don't realise.
Are you sure? Have you asked "most people"?
Ok maybe I should have put "which I believe/think most people don't realise"
Would that keep you happy?
I still think my point's correct though.
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