The Plover’s Wing: a Meeting with the Mayor of Holon, Israel, 2009

The Plover’s Wing: a meet­ing with the May­or of Holon, Israel, 2009

HD Digit­al video, 4:3 (masked 16:9)
22:41 min
Filmed in Holon, Israel
Inter­pret­er and co-ordin­at­or: Galit Eilat
Cam­era and sound by Lir­an Yehezkel, Mon­ica Mol­nar and Mar­cus Coates
Pro­duced by the Israeli Cen­ter for Digit­al Art, Holon, as part of the Hapzura Arts Festival

Cli­ent: Moti Sas­son, The May­or of Holon 

Loc­a­tion: The Mayor’s Office, Holon, Israel 

Ques­tion: Will the Israeli-Palestini­an con­flict be solved through invest­ing in bet­ter edu­ca­tion and redu­cing the viol­ence among young people? 

[Mar­cus Coates per­forms a ritu­al for the May­or in his office. He under­takes this ritu­al in an effort to seek an answer to a prob­lem described by the Mayor.]

Inter­pret­er [Galit Eil­at]: I would like to intro­duce you, Mar­cus Coates and Moti Sas­son, May­or of Holon.

May­or: Shalom.

Mar­cus coates: Shalom.
Thank you very much for invit­ing me to Holon, Israel. I’m here to offer my ser­vices to you and your city. And I want you to ask me a ques­tion, a ques­tion that is import­ant to you. I want to take that ques­tion to a spir­it world, to talk to anim­al and bird spir­its, to see if I can use their guid­ance to help you answer the question.

Mayor/​Interpreter: There is a prob­lem among the young people, the youth in the city, which is related to viol­ence and he needs help to solve this problem.

MC: OK, and does this relate to a wider issue about the Israeli and Palestini­an problems?

Mayor/​Interpreter: OK, I think it’s about invest­ment in the future, so to try to reduce the viol­ence among the young people is our invest­ment for the future, because they will be the lead­ers of the future, and they will know bet­ter how to deal with dif­fer­ent kinds of issues, argu­ment and con­flict. So in this sense, will the Israeli-Palestini­an con­flict be solved through invest­ing in bet­ter edu­ca­tion and redu­cing the viol­ence among young people?

MC: OK, thank you, I’ll try my best.
If you’d like to sit back slightly.

[Mar­cus Coates per­forms his ritu­al. He makes the calls of a jack­daw, bit­tern, moorhen, coot, red grouse, her­on, raven, spar­row­hawk, badger cubs, cuckoo. MC fin­ishes and sits down.]

Inter­pret­er: How are you?

MC: OK, that was interesting.
There were many inter­est­ing anim­als and birds there. Most of them I am see­ing, talk­ing to and I’m listen­ing to them. But there was one par­tic­u­lar bird that wouldn’t respond to me. I am not good at its call, I don’t know its lan­guage very well. This par­tic­u­lar bird is called a plover. It’s a small bird, it nests on the ground in fields.

Mayor/​Interpreter: What is the col­our of the bird?

MC: It’s a white bird with beau­ti­ful green and black wings and has a small crest – tuft – on top of its head and it has very roun­ded ends to its wings, it’s a beau­ti­ful fly­er, and it nests on the ground. I saw this bird, I didn’t see a nest, I just saw this bird on the ground and it was look­ing at me from the side and walk­ing away with its wing drag­ging on the floor and I knew that’s what this bird does, it’s pre­tend­ing to have a broken wing and it’s try­ing to take me away from the nest, to dis­tract my atten­tion. And I fol­lowed the bird for a while and then it flew off, that’s what happened, that’s what I saw. In a way there was noth­ing unusu­al about that beha­viour, it’s what I’d expect from that bird. Which leads me to think that this ques­tion is a uni­ver­sal ques­tion, it’s not neces­sar­ily a spe­cif­ic prob­lem to you, but it’s some­thing that’s affect­ing you a great deal at the moment. It’s dif­fi­cult to under­stand the mean­ing of this, but my imme­di­ate inter­pret­a­tion is that I knew I wasn’t a threat to that bird. But the bird assumed any­one going up to its nest or into it, was a threat. It’s auto­mat­ic­ally defensive.

And in that way it feels like the bird or what the bird rep­res­ents here is the idea of identi­fy­ing with a cer­tain pos­i­tion, identi­fy­ing with a vic­tim pos­i­tion. Where­as the bird wasn’t a vic­tim at all, it was just assum­ing whenev­er there was a cir­cum­stance like that, it was a vic­tim. It was almost a default situ­ation for that bird, it was an auto­mat­ic response.

I think in con­flict situ­ations espe­cially – and this hap­pens with young people, with old people, I think it hap­pens with every­body, I think it hap­pens with nations – it’s easi­er some­times to take on what is seem­ingly a vic­tim pos­i­tion, because you are defend­ing your­self. And from this pos­i­tion you can do very extreme things and feel you are in the right.

I think that young people, espe­cially here, need to learn that with­in in a con­flict situ­ation they need to be able to identi­fy with the per­son who they are in con­flict with.

They need to identi­fy with oth­er people’s situ­ations and with oth­er sides of argu­ments. And that is a very dif­fi­cult skill to learn. 

That’s really it, I’m not sure how you teach young people, I’m not sure how you teach nations to identi­fy with oth­er people’s pos­i­tions. But I’m sure it starts with young people and it starts with education.

Mayor/​Interpreter: They have an open­ness to be changed.

MC: Indeed. Do you have any ques­tions for me?

May­or: No.

MC: Thank you very much. Cheers.

[MC and the May­or raise their cof­fee cup and glass and take a drink.]

Inter­pret­er: It was strange – bizarre?

Mayor/​Interpreter: He says that you are feel­ing things from the inside and it is import­ant for you. It is real, not a play.

(Tran­script excerpt)

You are reading The Plover’s Wing: a Meeting with the Mayor of Holon, Israel