Tobias Griessbach
Tobias Griessbach

A Cab and a Dilemma

On our way to the Berlin Airport, way too late, counting every minute and always aware of the risk to miss our flight, a very interesting discussion with our cab driver evolved as we raced across Berlin.

By solely mentioning Jerusalem (my favorite topic), our cab driver, let’s call him Musa, became keen-eared and revealed to us his Palestinian origin. Being born in Germany to a former Fatah member, he told in an adorable and broad Berlin accent of his first and only visit to Israel, which ended right after he left the plane. He came to visit family members in Israel and Palestine, but ended up telling us of rude and arrogant airport security, that took him into questioning before sending him back to Germany. This was 20 years ago and since then, he never attempted to try again, fearing another rude treatment at Ben Gurion Airport.

Musa went on, telling us, that his identity always has been an obstacle, even in Germany. “Being Palestinian isn’t easy anywhere in the world”, he said. He even told his son to lie and stating Lebanon as country of origin.

Not to get me wrong, this is not another story about Palestinian hardships but about the absurdity of geopolitics. Two individuals, both born in the same country and into the same law and society, but I, without any particular affiliation to Israel and Palestine are the one to explain the Palestinian, what Jerusalem is like. At the same time, more and more Jewish Israelis leave behind their country of birth and the struggles it holds for every single person living in it. Further, such encounters create a moral hall of mirrors. As a person to support the idea of a save Jewish haven, but also a Palestinian state and with many friends on both sides of the Green Line it is hard to tell where to stand morally. The constantly told stories of hardships, traumas and loss suggest the idea, that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has as many emanations as there are people living with and in it. So, there must also be that many ideas of Israel and Palestine as we as bystanders narrow these ideas down to a very specific model which is influenced by our history and society.

As the ride came to an end, Musa said, as Germans we do have everything that allows us to approach the entire topic neutrally but instead we prefer to extend to battlefield beyond its actual realm. We fight human rights (of one group) to support human rights (for the other). As we part company, I wanted to say him, that I wish for him to see Jerusalem on his own one day, but who am I to say such things to someone with his particular experience and background? Maybe, if we meet again, I hope for some more time to talk to Musa for a better understanding and insights.

About the Author
Tobias Griessbach has a M.A. in Anthropology and is a freelance journalist.
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