My trip to the Southern Glacier, Sólheimajökulll was cancelled last minute.
That’s the way of the world. Things don’t always play-out as we would like.
So, Iceland, what I have I learned?
My brother keeps telling me that they ‘hate Israel.’
Strictly Jordanian dates only.
My reply had been that lots of countries hate Israel.
He was keen for me to find-out the reason for the antipathy.
I haven’t asked anyone.
‘Hey, Olaf, why do you guys hate Israel?’
I suspect some of this has to do with Lutheranism.
I understand, mostly by inference and by standing outside austere churches and cathedrals that this is the major Christian denomination on the Island.
Martin Luther was the man who posted his writs at Worms, who rallied against the flouncery of Catholicism with its purchases of favours and indulgences.
Better to maintain a direct connection with God, than navigate priests, their Latinate rituals, and ceremonies.
Well, I perceive, and please don’t let this offend you if you are a Lutheran and you know more about these things than me, that this leads to a form of self-righteousness.*
Purity of purpose and spirit.
Akin to the way in which Icelanders have adopted renewable energy.
They have tapped into the geothermals to generate electricity, water and heating and, where that is not available, hydroelectric.
They drive electric cars.
I haven’t seen any Priuses although lots of Teslas, Hyundais and Kias.
Their cars move through the streets with a strumming of winter tyres, equipped with metal spikes to manage the ice and snow (no slippy, slidy early mornings for them).
Yesterday I ran past the central Reykjavik cemetery.
Dull stones, names etched for remembrance.
I’m not trying to run-down the population.
I have not met anyone beyond casual shop, hotel, and restaurant interactions.
Although when you live in an area of purity (the tap water tastes amazing – it is filtered through volcanic rock) you, I suspect anticipate this of others.
(This makes the American tourists, sorry for more generalisation and offence, extra loud and intrusive).
And with this approach the anticipation of fairness, equality, and flatness of hierarchy (the gap between the rich and poor is less here than the US, UK or yes, Israel, although it is still significant – the top 5% of people own 50% of the island).
And why not fairness towards the Palestinians?
And there is the problem.
And, who knows, perhaps they love Israel here.
This is my commentary on my brother’s recent Googling.
Or maybe it is the Jews.
Do they not?
Ironically, I didn’t begin this blog with an expose of my biases and prejudices.
I wanted to talk about Imperialism.
The Icelanders have not been colonialists – like the English, French, Spanish and Americans.
(Leif Erikson’s attempt to settle North America didn’t last).
They have scratched-out an existence on the barren soil, contending with winters, volcanoes, and all sorts.
And what is the point?
Well, everything is expensive.
Perhaps double the price of food, drink, and clothing than the UK.
It’s an island; they import everything.
Yes, OK. So too is the UK.
Admittedly this is a remote island with a tiny population. 370,000 or thereabouts.
That is a factor.
Another I suspect, going back to the start of the blog and the Israel – Palestine conflict.
The island in its long history has been colonised or ruled by Denmark and Norway. It gained independence only in 1944 (taking advantage of the war and the German occupation).
It has therefore a history of occupation, of outside control, like Scotland, Ireland, or India.
And, like all previously oppressed people it has a fierce sense of independence and a preference to avoid profiteering from the labour of others (the colonised).
All this combining perhaps, (with Luther) to what you see today.
It is a country built of necessity of grit and determination.
Sure, the bananas are expensive.
Everything is expensive.
If you take an approach that precludes an exploitation of others.
What is the cost of a banana?
I’ll tell you.
OK, I won’t. You can read How bad are bananas? (Mike Berners-Lee).
And, to return to Israel.
If there has ever been a colonised country it is the Holy land.
The list of occupiers is long.
Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders, Ottomans, British…
And the timeline of those occupations, depending on your historical view goes back thousands of years.
This likely relates to the independent attitude of Israel and the Israelis.
Combining the cost of bananas with imperialism and Jewish autonomy.
All before breakfast and, on holiday.
You have my apologies.
What did I do with my cancelled day?
I ran, swam, and walked.
Better to keep moving.
Avoid standing still.
Or you might freeze.
*Just so as to be clear and, to represent my person-centred credentials; when I refer to groups, I am alluding to the notion of the people rather than the people. Once you have met one Icelander, Scot, Jew, so the saying goes, you have met once Icelander… People are distinct from person. We is not me although you are you.