Sunday, November 01, 2020

Meet the Swedish activist walking to Palestine

By The Palestine Monitor - October 26, 2017
Section: [Main News] [Interviews]
Tags: [Occupation] [West Bank]

Benjamin Ladraa is a Swedish activist who is currently walking to Palestine to raise awareness about Israel's occupation. He started his journey from Sweden in August, and will be walking for 4,800 kilometres across Europe and then all the way to Cyprus and Turkey. He plans to reach the West Bank carrying a Palestinian flag on his backpack.

Many pro-Palestinian activists in Europe have praised Ladraa for his project, and he found help from quite a few supporters along the way, including free accommodation. Ladraa fundraised most of the money he needed, and is on a very tight budget (three to 10 euros a day, depending on the cost of living in each country).

Ladraa is documenting his trip on social media. While walking through the Czech Republic, Ladraa spoke with Palestine Monitor about his motivation and goals for the journey.

PM: You have been walking for more than 2 months, every day. How do you feel?

Ladraa: When you are outside everyday traveling like this you really get to experience every feeling. I've been awed by nature, felt cold, felt happy, felt sad and so forth. Since it takes such a long time and I've already been walking for a while I expect more of every feeling as well ranging from despair to euphoria.

PM: What motivated you to start your long walk?

Ladraa: My interest began with meeting some Palestinians in Sweden that had come from Syria. They raised my curiosity about the situation and I went ahead and did a lot of reading, documentary-watching etc. Eventually I travelled there and saw the situation for myself. My motivation for the walk was sparked by all the anger and emotion I felt over the injustices committed by the Israelis against the Palestinians. I was not always interested in Palestine, and I feel that I can make an important point with that because the emotions arose from the information I got about the situation. I mean that if I never read anything about it or met anyone from there, I probably wouldn't do this walk either.

PM: Why did you chose the 100th year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration in 1917 to arrive in Jerusalem?

Ladraa: It is a good year to work on raising awareness. Also the occupation has gone on a hundred years too long so it’s urgent to try and do what you can about it. I feel like I can do this now so there is no reason not to.

PM: You often meet with supporters along the way, what do they tell you?

Ladraa: They often praise what I'm doing a lot which I guess is understandable but still it feels weird because I get it a lot and almost from everyone. I’m not used to this kind of interaction! There are real heroes out there, doctors who are saving people’s lives in war zones for instance. They deserve to be called heroes more than I do. I’m just walking! I’m not risking my life. What I do is actually pretty privileged. It feels really good to get so much support but it seems disproportionate compared to my efforts.

PM: What is your message? What do you hope for people to remember about your trip?

Ladraa: I hope that I can show that ordinary people can do things that seem extraordinary. I believe that as soon as we stop consider ourselves helpless and start to challenge the limits of what we think we are capable of achieving we will realize that almost all limitations are purely mental. I hope that I can inspire more people to take action in order to come a step closer to the world we all dream of. I don't believe people are trying their best and I hope to show that when you are, you can achieve things that seem pretty difficult - like walking to Palestine! 

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