Tradescantia Zebrina .:. The Wandering Jew

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tales and opinions of the wandering Jew

Just four little girls

Taking the bus back to Jerusalem yesterday, something was amiss. It took me a while to realise that I was sensing the tenseness of my fellow riders and the driver. From my seat midway back, near the rear door, I could see that people kept checking over their shoulders towards something at the back of the bus. Eventually, that “something” revealed itself to be four young girls, sitting in the last row. Occasionally, they would say something really loudly, but I couldn’t understand what they were saying. Occasionally they would also burst into laughter. Occasionally they would sing a few lines of songs I didn’t recognize.

People started moving up to the first rows of the bus; eventually everyone was sitting in the first few rows except for me and a couple soldiers who remained seated two rows up and across the aisle from me. Around this point, the girls started shouting, singing, laughing, and, I think, taunting the driver and the passengers. (I really need to learn Hebrew slang, insults, and idioms.) I could see the driver watching the girls in his rearview mirror. One of the soldiers turned around and started talking to them, in a really calm tone. From the girls’ tones, and the soldiers’ reactions, they started insulting the soldiers. At this point, the second soldier became really angry and made to get up and go to the back of the bus, but the first soldier held him back.

I was starting to get nervous, and decided I should move to the front of the bus as well. Unfortunately, that was the point when one of the girls appeared in the seat next to me. I looked at her, then focused on staring out the window and ignoring her as much as possible. There was a lot of shouting, from the girls and soldiers, and more laughter from the girls. The soldiers got out of their seats – one pulled my neighbour out into the aisle and restrained her on the floor, while the second went to the back to keep the other three girls from moving forward to their friend. With the soldier holding the girl in the aisle, I was unable to move forward, as I couldn’t move out of my seat. About twenty minutes into my bus ride, the driver finally pulled over and we waited for the police. I took a good look at the girl who was still being held on the floor – she couldn’t have been more than 11- or 12-years old. The police arrived, came on board, pulled the four girls off – kicking and singing and laughing. I watched through the window as the police made them take their jackets and sweaters off. I suspected I knew why they were being made to do that, but I wanted confirmation so I asked the soldier in my broken Hebrew. He explained that the girls had said that our bus ride was going to end with a “bang” (he mimed an explosion and said, “ba-boom”). A police came on board, examined the area where they had been seated, spoke briefly with the soldiers and the driver, and then we were back on the road again. For the remainder of the ride, the atmosphere was totally relaxed, calm; the passengers were chatting away as if nothing had happened out of the ordinary.

… I realise I’m not in Canada. And I realise that bombs on busses are far more common here than at home. And I realise that I didn’t actually see a bomb, or proof that the girls weren’t just spinning stories. But… I just can’t believe how quickly everything was “back to normal.” The whole time we were stopped on the side of the highway was maybe five or six minutes. Were this Canada, the passengers would all have been removed from the bus, we would all have given statements, and the bus would probably have been kept as evidence. But here? After a few minutes we continued on our way. It didn’t even make the news.

I’m a little shaken, but okay otherwise. I did decide, however, to walk home from the Jerusalem bus station instead of getting on a city bus to get home.

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Filed under: israel, travels, war, wtf?

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