Friday, July 22, 2005

Israel: The Feeling, The Mood, The Reality - Part I

Colors divide the nation: On a street corner at the entrance to Jerusalem, with the central bus station in the background, stand boys with big knitted kipot and girls with long flowing dresses: they are tying orange strips to the antennas of automobiles waiting at the red light. In front of the Izraeli Mall in Tel Aviv, young men and women hand out strips of blue. The orange represents the anti-disengagement of Gush Katif; the blue represents the pro-disengagement.

But it is not colors alone:

The square in the Jewish quarter of the old city in Jerusalem is known for its tolerance of many opinions. I’m sitting on a bench, watching young girls selling orange t-shirts; their slogan – “Jew, do not expel a Jew”. Near me sits a thirty one year old man from Los Angeles: ‘I do not really know what to make of the whole disengagement thing. I am confused’.

In Bat Ayin, a village some 20 kilometers south of Jerusalem concentrated on organically cultivating the Israeli soil, and known for its radical right wing views, there is no confusion: ‘this is the first time in our history that it is Jew versus Jew; Sharon has definitely lost his mind’. Another resident, when asked if he was going to Gush Katif, replied, ‘why go there, I should just go strait to jail’, a cynical response, highlighting the police’s thirst for arrests of anti-disengagement protesters.

A day after Gush Katif is closed off to none residents, I am hitchhiking from the Rishon Letzion junction to Jerusalem. The driver asks me, ‘so, nu you gonna go to Gush Katif? You can switch papers with one of its residents, or maybe tunnel in like the Arabs do from Egypt to Gaza.’ I’m not sure if he was serious or not.

Shabbos in Chevron is empty. Many of its residents have gone to Gush Katif. ‘It is not about Gush Katif’, a Chevroni tells me, ‘it is about the whole of Israel’. Throughout Shabbos there is scarcely another topic discussed. One man’s fourteen-year-old daughter sits in prison for protesting in Gush Katif. ‘It is a communist state’, says a resident, ‘imagine holding a fourteen-year-old girl in America for weeks – never!’

We are about to begin Maariv by the tomb of Yishai and Ruth, but an argument has broken out between a leading member of the Chevron community and a young soldier. ‘You, as a Jew,’ says the man from Chevron, ‘have the responsibility to leave the army’. ‘Would you not send your son to the army?’ asks the soldier. ‘No, I wouldn’t,’ he replies and then continues, ‘how could I send my son to send his own father from his home?’ With that we recite Baruchu.

I flip on the news, a girl in the Gush Katif area is asking a policeman, ‘how can you not let me walk the road on which my brother was killed?’ A white haired man says he hasn’t seen anything like this since the Holocaust – and then it was the Germans.

But, back in the old city, the Arab shuk is full with Israeli tourists, one bargaining for a Bedouin coffee press, another for a Nargila. Are they bargaining for the wrong thing? ‘Life must go on’ they say.

Well… will it?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

somehow, someway, i think it will.

7/22/2005 3:52 PM  
Blogger The real me said...

Never mind will it. Did you go to Azza? Or did you sit around being a tzadik in peltz...

7/23/2005 10:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what about the color blue? is that part two?

7/24/2005 2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

excellently written- i feel like i'm there in israel! thank you and yasher koach!

7/27/2005 4:47 AM  
Blogger The Bearded One said...

it better. i got plans!

8/06/2005 5:23 PM  

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