“Camp, did you read about the firewall the Chinese government put up last week?” I asked my compadre as soon as I sat down at our favourite table on the covered patio. “I thought it was an April fools joke but apparently they are seriously restricting internet access for their own people. No more Facebook, no Google, no New York Times or The Washington Post or The Guardian.”
“Censorship apparently works if the censored have no need or desire for the material being blocked,” Camp said. “The Chinese have always been good at building walls, just look at the 20’000 km long Great Wall built about 2000 years ago. Did it keep anybody out? Not sure but it kept about half a million soldiers and peasants busy for hundreds of years.”
“What is it with these walls,” I asked. Are they to keep people out or in? To separate the haves from the have-nots; to keep ‘aliens’ or foreigners out?”
“Good question. Answer is: all of the above. The Berlin wall kept the free people walled inside a hostile East Germany, separating families and friends, while the 700 km long wall along the Green Line in the West Bank is supposed to keep Palestinians out of the holy land,” Camp said.
“Why is it called the West Bank if it’s in the east?”
“It’s only been called that since Jordan annexed it after the Arab-Israel war in 1948. Before that it was called Judea and Samaria. Israel has occupied that territory since the six day war in 1967,” Camp explained.
“I was there just days after that war ended. I still remember the burned out tanks along the road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It was a grad trip from my Swiss Highschool. We sailed from Genoa around Italy and visited Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and Israel. I was probably one of the first visitors at the newly accessible Wailing Wall. I pulled out a slip of paper from a crack as a souvenir and almost got killed by some very upset Jews. I was a seventeen year old idiot and didn’t know that I was removing a prayer from a direct line to god.”
“This Western wall is the last remnant of a temple which was destroyed by Titus and his roman legions in the year 70. The rest is superstition and religion.”
“Is there ever going to be a solution for those people and their shared ancestral lands?”
“Probably not in our life time. Of the 6 million Israelis, about 20% are Arabs but between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean there are about equal Jews and Arabs, about 11 million altogether.”
“How do you know all this Camp, you’re like a walking encyclopaedia,” I said.
“I’ve looked it up last week, after tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered along Gaza’s border with Israel to vent their pent-up frustration against their longstanding blockade of the territory and in support of their claims to return to homes in what is now Israel. “
“We both know that will never happen but many more will die. And then there is the infamous Mexican wall Trump wants to build,” I said, shaking my head in frustration.
“And we all know that is the most stupid wall of all. There are already 800 km of existing walls along the 3200 km border and none of them can stop a quarter million guns finding their way south each and every year from California, Texas and Arizona, where they are legally purchased but end up in the hands of the cartels. Juxtapose that against $ 25 billion in drugs going north.”
“Guns for drugs, once again,” I said, taking a long sip. “On top of that we’re looking at a trade wall or war between the Chinese and the US.”
“Trump plays poker, Xi Jinping plays chess, everybody loses,” Camp says.
“On the other hand there are walls I really enjoy,” I said, “like the Stanley Park sea wall, 10 km of pristine walking or bicycle path along the edge of the park and English bay. I also love the sea wall walk in West Van from Ambleside Park to Dundarave Park.”
“How about our very own sea side walk from the Granthams dock all the way to the Yacht Club and the Gibsons Public Market. A bit rough in spots but surely along the most pristine vista anywhere. I’m advocating of making it an officially and designated walk with park status. I’m going to ask for approval from the Squamish Nation, since it crosses their territory,” Camp said.
“That’s a great idea. Walking and hiking are the best tourist draws for the Coast, and that path leads right by our favourite watering hole.” We both finished our first pint and like magic, Vicky, reading our minds, brought around two fresh pints. Camp couldn’t help himself and asked her: “What do you think about the wall Vicky?”
“Pink Floyd?” she said, “that dirge about education and thought control? You two need to get with the times a bit more. Every heard of Bruno Mars or Drake?”