03.12.2005A German Brass Band in the Middle EastTouring the Orient with a Trumpet and a NotepadTel Aviv
We leave Ramallah, travel in two buses via the diplomatic checkpoint and once again into the West Bank towards Tel Aviv. We have a guest with us, a young Palestinian from Nazareth, who also shouldn't have been in Ramallah. With our diplomatic status we smuggle him past the checkpoint into the West Bank. Everything goes well, although at the passport control the guy trembles like a leaf, turns pale, and struggles to maintain his composure.
"After Ramallah, Tel Aviv is a complete culture shock", according to Moll. "It is like a large European city, a shining, stylish party city on the sea, and full of buxom beauties" The hotel has a fabulously central location, only ten minutes from the beach, and is housed in a former Bauhaus styled movie theater. There are quite a lot of well-maintained buildings from this period as well as from the 1950s. Architecturally charming. I embark on my first walk through the city.
For the first half hour I am still very tense. I am constantly checking my surroundings. Can I get through this crowd? Don't wait at the bus stop! Are there any suspicious characters here? The feeling that you can be blown to bits at any moment is both extremely present and yet diffuse, as I have no way of judging if, when, or where.
To some extent, I too am infected with the Israeli permanent paranoia, but it soon relaxes its hold on me. My safe return to the hotel is notched up as a success. By my next excursion, the fear is gone. It is probably the same for the people who live here. You have to simply get on with life. If you think about bombs the whole time, you will be completely paralyzed and unable to do anything.
And despite this, the threat is ever-present as a possibility, as a hidden tension, preventing everyday life from ever getting too simple or too unconscious.
Once again, the next morning brings two hours of beach life with swimming, sunburn, and snoozing. Things here are also very similar to every other Mediterranean marina. In the afternoon we drive to the concert hall, a relatively newly-built cultural center with a medium-sized theater.
Just this once, we decide to go out to eat before the concert, which turns out to be a mistake. First of all, the food is bad, or at least the main dish, and second, the whole concert long it feels as if there is something heavy in my stomach that occasionally wants to come up.
I should have known better. The concert, nevertheless, goes okay, but nothing special. We had to ask if we could start with our German march "Hoch Heidecksburg," yet it wasn't a problem.
Andreas and Samira came to the show with some friends as the West Bank fan delegation, and I was truly moved. We see the director of the Tel Aviv Goethe Institute for exactly thirty seconds before he disappears again.
Back on the road again. We drive to Ben-Gurion Airport. This is the only international civilian airport in Israel since the destruction of the EU financed airport in Ramallah by the Israeli military. Hard-core security technology is everywhere. There is even a checkpoint control at the approach to the airport.
The check-in runs as follows: first, an army of security agents swarms out and receives the travelers. Most of the agents are quite young and the girls have to wear ill-fitting uniforms. The shorter agents wear what appear to be orthopedic insoles in their running shoes, so that they look taller and can maintain a sense of authority.
Then the interviews begin – all kinds of questions about where you come from, the purpose of your journey, the name of your bus driver, the name of the bus company, what you think about Israel, etc. After successfully completing the interview, a green sticker is affixed to your luggage.
Then on to x-raying the luggage. Of course, our two Iranians (the percussionist and the singer) are particularly suspect and are thoroughly examined. Afra's clip microphone was taken away to be checked – the cables make it look like it could be a detonator. In the end, they also get the green sticker.
Then we are checked-in, interviewed again if necessary, and once again scanned together with our hand luggage. Everything is conducted professionally by mainly female personnel.
The flight is without incident and we are in the air for only about an hour.
Next stop: Cairo (press 10)