Pictures - 1833 views

Top video: Dan Rosen, MK's generous host in Jerusalem.
Bottom video: Mark K. and Grandpa Ken square off against rock throwers in Sheij Jerrah

MK blogs: Wrapping up trip to the Holy Land

By Mark K. Tilsen, assistant director of marketing

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Mark K. Tilsen, assistant director of marketing at Native American Natural Foods, went to Israel and Palestine with his 82-year-old grandfather and several other members of his family as part of a peace delegation to the region. MK posted photos and microblogs throughout his trip. Now back on the Pine Ridge Reservation and Tanka Headquarters, MK offers a few final thoughts about his journey.

*NOTE to see captions on the photo slideshow, move your cursor over the pictures.

Aug. 26, 2009

After spending nearly three weeks in Israel and Palestine, I'm back at the office in Kyle, S.D., trying to figure out how to tell the story. I went with nine of my family members on my father's side of the family. We are all Jews (I'm half Jewish) and we wanted to go to Palestine to better understand the situation and see the land with our own eyes.

It was a life-changing experience to be in the Holy Land with my family and my 83-year-old grandpa Ken, in particular.

I saw the sun rise over the Mediterranean Sea and set on the Old City of Jerusalem. I touched the stones of the Nativity Church in Bethlehem and drank mint lemonade under the stars in Ramallah. I got the chance to see and hear the stories of Palestinians in Deheisha refugee camp and swim in the cold, cold springs of Bet Ayn, a settlement that has been described as right wing, reactionary and "the hill of the crazy people." I thought Bet Ayn was beautiful country and some of the places reminded me of the hippie shacks you see in the Black Hills sometimes -- people living out of campers, buses, and trailers on rough roads. But that's not a complete picture either.

We spent a week touring the West Bank to see things from a Palestinian perspective, and I stayed a week longer by myself in Jerusalem for a sense of balance, to hear the other side of the story and eat more great food and smoke nargila (hookah) to my heart's content.

I have no conclusions and the complexities of the issues are profound and startling. The Palestinians I met want one thing, "Do not add or take away, but tell everything you see. Tell our story." The refrain from the Israelis I met was, "Things are complex. Don't judge until you understand. There are two sides in every story."

I feel like Palestine and Israel are battling for moral high ground and whoever is the bigger underdog or victim wins.

So often, we get visitors who come to our Rez and, after a week here, feel they know what "those Indians need to do." I think that comes from a place of privilege and righteousness that is not meant to be hurtful at all, and means well. But, ultimately, it is not very helpful.

I am going to write a more in-depth look at what I saw in another blog. I just didn't want to leave you all hanging for too long. ☺


Aug. 17, 2009

Smoking Nargila and reading Ruling Pine Ridge. Going to take the sheruit to Ben Gurion airport at 8. Last minute shopping for souvenirs and my last shwarma. sad. About to leave jerusalem to go back stateside. I miss home! Lol (From Facebook)

Aug. 16, 2009

Last night in Jerusalem. I love chilling but feel slightly bad about the sheer amount of it I am doing here. (From Facebook)

Aug. 14, 2009

Kickin' it twice in Bethlehem and mostly in Jerusalem. just chillin' really (From Facebook)

There is now a trio of touristas wandering around israel convinced that my name is Oleg Tokorev and, "My fader is veddy big man in oil and gun bizness" (From Facebook)

Aug. 13, 2009

Good morning, homeslices! It's 430 pm in the holy land of jerusalem! (From Facebook)

Just sittin' in a cafe sipping ice water and listening to "American Pie" over the juke box. feels homey somehow (From Facebook)

My Jerusalem morning is arabic coffee, mosquito bites, nargila and sunshine. I'm having a good day (From Twitter)

How did Hunter S. Thompson do it? I puff on a tobacco nargeelah in the sun and feel winded and need to take a nap. (From Twitter)

Looking for a late night showing of District 9 in Jerusalem (From Twitter)

Aug. 12, 2009

Waited at Bethlehem checkpoint for 40 minutes while the soldiers got finished watching what I assume is late night soap operas with a laugh track. Could have been a very important security briefing. (From Skype)

Just ordered a burger and asked, 'It doesn't come with anything weird like goat meat, does it?' 'Why? Do you want it with goat meat? That's the special today." (From Skype)

Got into an argument with some Natives because I said Pine Ridge had a conquered spirit. My point was is that there is not hopelessness here like on my rez. ...

And they should be proud of the strength of their language, people, culture and economy, and that the walls we face at Pine Ridge are the walls in our hearts and minds. ...

Some kid got all bent out of shape. He thought I was showing off my tribal ID card. ...

I was trying to point out how fucked up it is to have your humanity rationed in parcels... showing the parallels between having to have an ID for service (on the rez) and going through (their) checkpoints. ...

I'm not anti-Indian, I'm pro-reality. If we want to build international partnerships as Natives, with people in struggle, we have to inform them where our people are really at. ...

In the end, we smoked outside and shook hands. He apologized for some of the things he said. We parted ways shaking hands as friends. But, this was in a note written on my bag that they put out in the hallway: Go home. (From Skype)

The commerce is so amazing here compared to the rez. They don't even know how amazing it is. They have three construction companies -- IN THE REFUGEE CAMP. FOUR E-CAFES. 5 BARBERS. WTF? (From Skype)

Last night was good. Spent the day in Bethlehem with Washtek and they taught me how to make a silkscreen spider. Then had some weird 2 shekel pizza. At night, kicked it with some rezed out Hebrews in Jerusalem while we ate big burger delivered on bikes and smoked nargila. (From Facebook)

My Jerusalem morning is Arabic coffee, mosquito bites, nargila and sunshine. I'm having a good day. (From Twitter)

After going on Birthright Unplugged (tour), it is very difficult to be objective and see two sides of the story of Israel and Palestine. (From Twitter)

Aug. 11, 2009

At Ibda Cultural Center near Bethlehem. Just made my first silkscreen and thinkin' about a cup of coffee. I hope my spider dries right. (From Twitter)

Just got back from Bethlehem from an awesome hip-hop/traditional Palestinian dance troupe, poetry reading, docu-short presentation, and general shenanigans ensued. I'm tryin' to say, I liked it :) (From Facebook)

Headed back to Bethlehem to check out some Natives in the Holy Land! (From Twitter)

Aug. 10, 2009

Trying to translate German to figure out how to operate the Israeli washing machine. What does 'pflegeicht' mean? (From Facebook)

"Morning night or noon, it's always a good time for nargila" (From Skype)

Was told by my friend in Jerusalem, "I'm not allowed to donate this house to Palestine" (From Skype)

In Israel trying to write my thoughts down before I see something else and all my thinking has to change. (From Twitter)

Eavesdropping on Israeli contractors re: moving explosives internationally. If this wasn't the Tel Aviv equal to motel6 it'd be more dramatic (From Twitter)

Aug. 9, 2009

You know you're in a messed up place when I'm the voice of reason. (From Twitter)

Jerusalem yesterday onsite of Palestinians evicted from their home to make room for Jewish Settlers listening to stories when things got real (From Twitter)

Was in Jerusalem at Sheik Jerrah, down the road from our hotel. Came out in support of the Palestinian families who got kicked out into the street by cops, then settlers that moved into their house. We were all about observing and being in solidarity till the Hasidim were throwing rocks at kids and Grandpa just snapped. Went toe to toe with them. "You are Jews? And you throw stones at children on the Sabbath?" (From Facebook)

The settlers pointed at the sky. "HE is not with you!" "You are not Jewish!" "You are Hitler" I just stood with my arm around my grandpa kinda smiling. One of em screamed at me, "You are going to hell!" I responded, "I will see you there my friend." roll credits. (From Facebook)

I went swimming in Mediterranean and spent the day getting sun burnt with my relatives. ;) (From Twitter)

Aug. 8, 2009

Going to tel aviv tonight, just had a nice pasta dinner after witnessing the wailing wall (From Facebook)

In Jerusalem right now. There's some Lakotas and Natives from the Bay back in the West Bank. Do I go back and kick it with them and get tons more photos/ stories or stay in Jerusalem and work from here? Literally torn on this! What should a guy to do??? What say you all? (From Facebook)

Aug. 5, 2009

LARGE PHOTO AT TOP: Curls flying, a young Palestinian girl twirls and laughs for the camera (From Facebook) For photo: CLICK HERE

SMALL PHOTO AT TOP LEFT: This dude was in Bethlehem as part of the 7,000 + PA Security Forces in town for Fatah's first Conference in 20 years! Fatah is so messed up reminds me of tribal council (From Facebook) For photo: CLICK HERE

Sorry for being out of the twitter loop. Lots of Net access in Palestine just no down time for it right now :P going to Haifa in 1 hour (From Twitter)

In Palestine and my heart is breaking for the people here. So like home. I ask, "How do you cultivate an unconquered spirit?" (From Twitter)

Okay, the dude in the refugee camp who had a nicer house than me? I got over that. The business in Jenin that has a bigger warehouse and distribution to whole foods? shit. palestinians need to be sending my rez donations and standing in solidarity with us. haha kidding, kinda (From Facebook)

Aug. 1, 2009

Smoking nargila in Ramallah at Stars and Bucks Cafe which is like a Palestinian spin off. Like it here. Family is safe and the trip is awesome. (From Facebook)

Sunrise in Ramallah. No soldiers will let me take pictures of them. I am not human rights activist. I am a gun fetishist! Lol (From Twitter)

LoL Big lakota jew walking around jerusalm hitting up the hasids who dont make fire on Shabbos, "Got a light" lol it was funny (From Twitter)

Went to the Old City of Jerusalem, grandpa Tilsen is holding up fine. Just made some tobacco ties for the homes we will be staying in. (From Twitter)

I am loving it! Jerusalem is like another planet and Ramallah is like an Arab Brookyln on the edge of the desert. (From Twitter)

July 31, 2009

Going into Ramallah in a few hours. I hope the food is good. :) (From Facebook)

I'm going into Ramallah today. Need to find a place to wash clothes, and eat a falafel. (From Twitter)

Never heard anyone use "Shabbot Shalom" as a pick up line before tonight. Gotta love Jerusalem. You stay classy Israel (From Twitter)

Trying to find a light for my cigar in a orthodox neighborhood after sun on shabbot = impossible. Walked 5 blocks to find someone who smokes (From Twitter)

Moments away from Shabbot and the call to prayer here in Jerusalem (From Twitter)

"I don't roll on Shabbos!" (From Facebook)

July 30, 2009

Fact: more people die getting hit by buses than by suicide bombers. the drivers are nuts over here. (From Facebook)

Bout to head out into Jerusalem, see you all later! (From Twitter)

It's sunrise in Jerusalem and I'm on a roof top soaking it in. not to brag or nothing, lol :p (From Twitter)

For more info:

To see MK's slideshow from his first update: MK blogs: "Big Lakota Jew walking around Jerusalem"

To see MK's photos from his second update: MK blogs: "How do you cultivate an unconquered spirit?"

To see MK's photos from his third update: MK blogs: "I just stood with my arm around my grandpa"

To see MK's photos from his fourth update: MK blogs: "What does 'pflegeicht' mean?"

To see MK's photos from his fifth update: MK blogs: "How did Hunter S. Thompson do it?"

To see his Tanka Talk Video Blog filmed before the trip: A little scared, a little excited: MK heads to Israel

To follow Mark K. on Twitter: @TankaBar

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