By Amit Epstein | 15/04/2010
I'm in Switzerland. So near by, yet so far-off.
Swiss people are kind of like German people, without the holocaust…looking back, it might sound good but looking forward - time will tell.
The view is truly picturesque, as if Switzerland's landscape itself was inspired by its own reputation. Walking around the old city, in and out, the houses seem to lay in true serenity, no worries, no conflicts; one cannot believe it, how a whole nation stands up to its stereotypes.
Obviously the xenophobia wave going through Europe did not pass over Switzerland, still it feels as if it is more a matter of theory, of newspapers titles and real-politic. The trains leave at the 22ed min. and 52ed min. of each and every hour, without exceptions. It's reassuring and disquieting at the same time. Leisure activities and local cuisine are expensive beyond reasonable range. I'm trying to figure out if those two facts sum up to some kind of inner conspiracy, a quiet protest, to exclude Mediterranean immigrants…
As I was growing up, "Switzerland" (as a term) stood for heaven on earth, the piece of land we wished to have, but ended up as remote as imaginable. "Switzerland" was a place made of chocolate and gold, with sounds of wooden birds chirping every round hour, without news, no unsuspected surprises, where money is at everyone's disposal, where Blond doesn't necessarily have a symbolic meaning, where people slice chunks of cheese made of 50% holes using a multifunction blade system, sitting on a teeter-totter and Yodelehi, Yodelehi, Yodelei Hi-Hi.
Meanwhile, in the Holly-land, the land of milk and honey, the chocolate was tasteless, an insult to both cows and cacao, the available cheese sort chemically pasteurized, the gold was held back under the policy of discretion in, well, Switzerland…not the term, the state behind the bank sanctuary…and shalom al Israel.
But Switzerland is, still, truly, an oasis. One can say he's Israeli and get a smile. Just a simple smile, without any special reason or feelings of guilt, discomfort or bitter resent. So near, yet so faraway…for a short while I was under the sweet Swiss illusion that my identity mustn't essentially include a load; historically, politically, symbolically or emotionally.
For a moment, I guess, I was Swiss – I felt how that ought to feel like – but to me it was bittersweet. So near, yet so far-fetched.