Saturday, March 29, 2008

Are the Times a-changin'?

I could feel myself glowing when a person living in my "settlement" stopped me at the local mall and remarked, "You seem to be doing such interesting things!" And she was smiling, and I gathered she really didn't mind what I was doing.

So what am I doing?

I am trying to gather together a group of local people from my community, which is over the green line, and taboo for those that are politically correct (I'm not, obviously) together with Palestinians. We had a first meeting in February and I advertised the second meeting on our local e-mail list. I didn't get one hate mail.

Instead, I met another woman waiting at the bus stop who told me "I'm doing such wonderful things." She looks like the typical settler woman, wearing a long skirt and head-covering. I didn't expect such a wide smile from her either!

True, they haven't yet come to our interfaith meetings, but if I keep on pushing, maybe they will. It certainly is attracting a lot of interest on the outside.

A BBC reporter is doing a radio show about it. A researcher from one of Israel's top universities is also attending. I know she will discover in her research that attitude change after encounters such as these do occur. Perhaps educators will begin implementing "encounters" in elementary schools and so on, as part of curriculum. Who knows where this can lead to? I'm hopeful.

And somehow, even Saudi's King Abdullah got into the picture by saying he believes in interfaith dialogue, and that he includes Jews in it as well. Well, I'll be danged, if that little bit in the paper didn't surprise the ass off me. It sure did. And it made our meeting delightful, while our group of about 13 people said they would surely welcome the King as a guest at our next meeting.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Loco Locals

I was sitting on the bus, minding my own business, which I do very well, thank you. My weekly local newspaper in Hebrew is on my lap, and I'm about to doze off. I hear a voice coming from the woman sitting next to me.

"your paper" she says.

I look at her, wide awake now.

"Your paper, please"

I wonder is this a stick-up? Is this woman gonna rob me of my newspaper. I give it to her hoping I will remember to ask for it back if I see her getting off the bus. She's glancing through and after 15 minutes hands it back to me. I'm grateful.

Yesterday, I went to our apartment committee meeting. I hadn't gone to any of the meetings and I thought I'd go see what it's all about. After figuring out who will volunteer to be the keeper of the keys to the tiny children's play room and what to do when teens come in and stay for hours, or can we let children play unsupervised by an adult, should we be responsible for other people's children when their parents fuck off somewhere....blah blah blah, the conversation turned interesting. It was about stuff thrown onto their balconies from higher apartments. It seems everyone but me has that problem. I'm on the top floor so I'm lucky. No one can throw stuff up eight flights. The woman next to me talks loudly.

"You wouldn't believe what I find on my balcony. Hair."

"What color" I ask her.

She looks at me funny. "Black" she tells me.

Phew. I'm relieved. It's not from any of my kids.

"I'm gonna collect it in a bag and throw it back to my neighbors. I know who it is. You know what I'll do? I'll play loud Arabic music on Saturday."

"Arabic music?" said someone else. "Everyone likes that music! It won't help you with your neighbors."

I started to talk Arabic music with the guy who brought it up.

I tell him "I listen to Fairouz"

"Fairouz? Don't listen to her. She hates Israel."

"Oh, who do you listen to."

"Om Kulthoum."

"She's from Egypt" I say, wondering if she hates Israel too but he just doesn't know it.

Other people complained about stuff thrown on their balcony from the higher apartments - cigarette butts, diapers, and a green plastic table leg.

The meeting continued. Other people started talking.

"Then there was a dog that peed in the elevator."

"I know who that was"

"No - they gave away their puppy."

"No - I saw that dog after I saw the pee in the elevator."

"Someone took a big shit in the stairwell."

Everyone laughs.

"It wasn't a dog. It was more like a gorilla."

Everyone is hysterical.

It's after 10:00 pm. The meeting is over.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

teach your children well

We are in the middle of a heat wave today. While Hubby's Toronto is taking in their hundredth snow storm of the year, I nonchalantly told him that it was too hot for me to walk around in a long-sleeved shirt. The sleeveless outfits are still in storage, but I'll get them out after Passover. I'm sure this weather is just a tease. We're due for a few more chilly days.

I tried to practice saying "no" to requests for people wanting me on this committee and that committee and people begging me to eat healthier, where the cooking takes up alot of precious hours. I'm 52 and I have homework for Chrissakes!! People saddled with homework don't take on board memberships and committees and all sorts of other stuff that are really important but that will probably have to wait another 19 years until I retire or the mortgage is paid off or I win a lottery of a decent size and I won't have to work so hard. I keep on asking God for lottery winnings and He thinks - hey! you just won 11 NIS ($3) in a lottery. That's a winning. So I have to be very specific and have asked Him for at least 1 million and a half NIS in winnings - not this 11 shekel shit.

During February I even tried to organize an interfaith encounter of people from my hometown of Maaleh Adumim with Palestinians from Abu Dis. I managed to get 8 people, though people are still wary of meeting with Palestinians. This week's events where a terrorist killed young students in a Jewish House of Learning are not going to help me either in my quest. Do they really think this will get Palestinians their freedom from checkpoints, when it only will make things much worse for them?? I can't understand this at all.

My son keeps on pointing out that in Gaza they celebrated the killings with sweets and general happy hoopla in the streets. One thing I must say about Israelis or Jews is that we don't go around shouting YIPEE when the IDF goes in and sprays the Gazans with bombs, bullets or whatever it is they do. There are no celebrations here for murder. And for this I'm quite proud of our culture/society. And while I try to teach my children when I hear them say "fucking Arabs" at the latest news that "not every Arab is a terrorist - in fact most are not", I feel these idiot terrorists are teaching my children a whole other thing.