Tradescantia Zebrina .:. The Wandering Jew

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tales and opinions of the wandering Jew

Israel bound

I want to write a post about how I’m going to Israel tomorrow, for work. But each time I’ve tried to start this post, the verb I’ve used hasn’t set the right tone. So I will not strive for poetics. Instead, I’ll say that I’m going, and will be back in New York on January 19th. See you on the other side.

Filed under: israel, judaism, palestine, politics, random, travels, war, work, wtf?

Israel, Palestine, and… Montreal?!

Cross-posted to Jewschool.

One of the many frustrations I have when it comes to Israel is the whole settlement situation. It is illegal to start a new settlement in Israel. Every week, new settlements are started, and the government allows the majority to remain. It’s illegal, but the government doesn’t stop it. Huh. Israeli law, international law, the Geneva Convention, and Oslo are often sited in support of stopping, and removing, the settlements. But, still, Israel does not move on it. In fact, we often hear that the Israeli government is building houses in the territories, er East Jerusalem. (Because if you call it Jerusalem, the media’s less likely to call out the illegality of it.)

But what happens when the legalities play out elsewhere? Like in the Superior Court in Montreal?

[T]he gist of the case is the assertion that Israel is violating the 4th Geneva Convention, which prohibits a state from transferring its population into territories it occupies. Canada has incorporated that provision into its domestic law and it applies to Green Park and Green Mount. … [T]he lands in question are under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Bil’in and are part of Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

And what’s the case against Green Park and Green Mount?

Green Park International and Green Mount International, acting as agents of the government of Israel, are violating a host of international laws that govern conflicts, as well as Quebec’s Charter of Rights.

Also being sued is Annette Laroche, sole director and officer of the two corporations. Two million dollars in punitive damages are sought, as well as an order to cease construction.

The court documents allege the defendants, “on their own behalf and as de facto agents of the State of Israel, are… aiding, abetting and assisting and conspiring with the State of Israel in carrying out an illegal purpose.” [Full article.]

This case will be complicated, certainly. Israel has thus far refused to try cases on the grounds of jurisdiction, but will Quebec? As Green Park and Green Mount are both Quebec-based companies, they have to abide by Quebecois, Canadian, and international law; it seems clear that they’re not.

I’d like to see this case go through the system. If the plaintiffs win, it would set precedent for other Palestinian towns to file similar legal cases. And could possibly also deter international (ie, not Israeli) companies from supporting (building or funding) the illegal settlements. I mean, could you imagine how great it would be if Palestinians actually had a legal way to sue American Jews who buy homes in the territories (er, “Jerusalem”) sight unseen (such as the new Nof Zion community)? Will Quebec be an open enough venue for a case like this, with such strong opinions on both/all sides, especially in light of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission‘s findings?

* * *

In other, only vaguely related news, a bank in Canada is being sued by Canadians who live in Israel. They claim this bank, Lebanese Canadian Bank (somehow related to Royal Bank of Canada, which isn’t being sued), knowingly dealt with Hezbollah. And Hezbollah’s to blame for the Lebanese war in 2006, during which the plaintiffs’ homes were damaged/destroyed. I’m not sure how this will play out. [Full article.]

(Is there something in the water, Montreal?)

Yes, those are muppets (Judge Gavel Doozer from “Fraggle Rock;” muggaphone player and Judge Marvin Suggs from “The Muppet Show”). Why not?)

Filed under: canada, israel, palestine, politics, war

Really Bad Idea

A follow up to Oh, dear G-d no:

“Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable,” said [Iranian-born Israeli Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz,] the former army chief who has also been defence minister.

Iran, which denies seeking nuclear weapons, has defied Western pressure to abandon its uranium enrichment projects. The leadership in Tehran has also threatened to retaliate against Israel – believed to have the Middle East’s only atomic arsenal – and U.S. targets in the Gulf for any attack on Iranian turf.

Mr. Mofaz also said in the interview that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map, “would disappear before Israel does.” [read more]

I maintain that this is a Bad Idea™. And will lead to a war between Israel and much of the Middle East, with other countries getting involved to support either side and… world war 3 has been born.

(And let’s not forget that the soon-to-be-former Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, said “that as president she would be willing to use nuclear weapons against Iran if it were to launch a nuclear attack on Israel.” Thank goodness she won’t be president!)

Filed under: america, israel, war, wtf?

Oh, dear G-d no.

Ehud Olmert will urge President Bush to prepare an attack on Iran, an Israeli newspaper reported.

How is an “attack” at all the proper response to “stop your nuclear program”? Let’s see… they’ll bomb Iran and then Iran will learn its lesson and not retaliate, and definitely not use those nuclear weapons? Right. This is a great idea.

Filed under: america, israel, war, wtf?

Bethlehem – 2.

As a follow up to my earlier post, I’d like to share a d’var torah written by Anne Lewis, one of the 9 lovely people I went to Bethlehem with. Luckily for me (and you, the readers), she was able to write out her thoughts – something I still have not done – and has permitted me to share it with you. (I’ve added the links for clarity and translation.)

January 4th, 2008
Shabbat Va’era

Patach Libeinu – Open our Hearts”

A red-head sky highlights the stones of Bethlehem’s huddled buildings. I stand on the roof of the Al-Rowwad Theatre Training and Cultural Center in the Aida Refugee camp with a group of American, Canadian and Australian Jews. After a day of listening to stories, my heart is cracked – open and hurting. AbdelFattah Abusrour is the last to speak. In addition to running the Al-Rowwad center that provides arts programming for children, Abed is a playwright, biology professor, painter and father of four. In a few minutes, we will board the mini bus to start back across the mammoth, four-mile gulf between this place and Baka, the neighborhood in Jerusalem I called home for two years. Abed sends us off with a quote from The Little Prince:

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

My eye catches a shard of the security barrier, jutting out like glass from skin. I think of the cup my friend Uzi crushed at his wedding a few nights before. The wall is wedged in front of the burial place of Rachel, the matriarch, who wept for an open womb. When the mini-bus first wove along the grafittied concrete, our tour guide, Elias Ghareeb told us, “Rachel was our first matriarch to die in childbirth. Before the Intifada, many women of Muslim, Christian and Jewish faiths would come here to pray for children.” For the capacity to bring new life into the world.

George Sa’adeh is the headmaster of an interfaith school established by the Greek Orthodox Church. He is also the Deputy Mayor of Bethlehem. On one of the walls of his office hangs a heart cut from red felt. At the center, a girl in a plaid jumper poses for a school portrait against a digital background of wildflowers. Later he tells us that this girl is his daughter Christina. The week the Intifada broke out, George was driving to the store with his wife, Najua and his daughters Marian, fifteen, and Christina, twelve. Soldiers opened fire. He was shot nine times and Christina was shot in the head and neck. I see her picture on another wall, and around the room are images of Mary and Jesus, photographs of George shaking hands, a Palestinian flag. When he was younger, George studied in Los Angeles. Now, he is back in this barbed birthplace of a Messiah. He is a member of the Bereaved Parents Circle with other Israeli and Palestinian parents who have lost children to bullets and shrapnel. All of them are set on countering the horrific experiential education so many children receive on both sides of the wall – the lessons Marian could have locked into that day in the car. They will teach their children and their children’s children that human beings have the capacity to open our hearts to one another.

Most of the day, I am moved most by the normal human things, how Elias jokes about the gnarled roads and the impulsive drivers. He wears a golden band on his right hand, an engagement ring, which he will move to his left hand when he and Lena, his fiancé, get married in the summer. We meet Eilda Zaghmout, who works for the Holy Land Trust, an organization that trains individuals in non-violence. She wears silver eye shadow, red nail polish and has a degree in business from Amman. She has just learned she is pregnant with the first child of the next generation of her family. At Al-Rowad Cultural Center, Abed shows us videos of the teenage boys from the refugee camp doing traditional dabka dance. There, the walls are lined with photographs teenagers have taken of their lives. “Beautiful resistance,” he calls it. I am struck by how surviving with an intact soul and an open heart is subversive from all places around the Green Line.

In this week’s parsha, Va’era, we read over and over about Pharaoh’s heart. The fact that Pharaoh’s heart was stiffened or hardened is reiterated twenty times in the tanakh, sometimes in response to Pharaoh’s own will and other times at the hand of God. With a rigid heart, the stubborn ruler is unable to hear the words of Moshe.

The JPS Commentary elaborates on this theme in Exodus:

“It is to be noted that in the first five plagues Pharaoh’s obduracy is self-willed. It is only thereafter that it is attributed to divine causality. This is the biblical way of asserting that the king’s intransigence has by then become habitual and irreversible; his character has become his destiny. He is deprived of the possibility of relenting and is irresistibly impelled to his self-wrought doom.”

When humans willfully and continually numb our hearts, we risk permanent loss of our capacity to feel with them.

As I prepare for Shabbat in Jerusalem, my heart wells up with love for Israel and my gut, with safek, doubt, about her boundaries, both physical and moral. I worry about the hardening of hearts in the State of Israel and in our Diaspora Jewish communities. I worry that, shouldering the weight of generations of trauma, we have become stuck and frozen. Locking onto narratives of the way things always happen here – between Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs – we are losing chances to re-evaluate realities, to hear new stories, to see human beings. I worry that we are obstructing our hearts and damaging our vision irreversibly.

But just as God follows Pharoah’s lead, paralyzing his heart once he has chosen to wall it off on his own, we learn that when we begin to open our hearts, God becomes our partner. In Parshat Netzavim, we are commanded “V’hashevota el’l’vavecha,” that we should take God’s commandments to heart (Deuteronomy, 30:1). If we do this, we are promised:

“Then the Lord your God will open (circumcise) your heart and the hearts of your offspring to love the Lord with all your heart and soul, in order that you may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:6).

If we make the first move, God will help us tear down the barriers that block us from loving and living. God wills our teshuvah.

And so this Shabbat Va-era, I pray:

Elohei Hashamayim, help us to experience your presence on this earth, but Elohei Ha-aretz, help us to remember that you are more than land.Elohei Rachel, may our hearts peel open to those around us, that we may see what is essential, that we may live.

Annie, thank you for the strong words of prayer.

Filed under: israel, judaism, palestine, politics, war

Lightning?!

I’m going to be struck by lightning.

I actually agree with George Dubbya Bush on something:

US President George W. Bush on Thursday called Israeli settlement expansion an “impediment” to the success of revived peace efforts and urged the Jewish state to follow through on its pledge to dismantle unauthorized settler outposts.

“I will talk about Israeli settlement expansion, about how that is, that can be, you know, an impediment to success,” he told Reuters in an interview. “The unauthorized outposts for example need to be dismantled, like the Israelis said they would do.”

[Read more.]

On the one hand, yay!, I’m glad he has this view of the illegal Israeli settlements and their detriment to the peace process. On the other hand, having the same opinion as Bush makes me feel oh-so-dirty.

Filed under: america, israel, palestine, politics, war

Bethlehem – 1.

I haven’t quite figured out what I want to say about Bethlehem yet. At this point, I have many thoughts, but they’re fragmented. So the words will come later.

In the meantime, photos [full set here].
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And a video. I took several videoclips of the graffiti on the Bethlehem side of the wall (“security barrier,” as it’s euphemistically called). Some are political, some are angry, others hopeful. Many are in Arabic, many more are in dozens of other languages as visitors from around the world leave their mark of solidarity, frustration, outrage, or sympathy. The voice in the background was that of our tour guide, Elias, who works for Holy Land Trust; his words don’t always match what we’re seeing on the wall.

Filed under: graffiti, israel, photos, politics, random, travels, war, wtf?

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.

Filed under: israel, travels, war, wtf?

Hebron

I think the way I need to deal with everything I learned, saw, and experienced, is to tell myself that the settlers aren’t Jews. There’s just no way that I can support their position. And there’s just no way I can understand Jews behaving, believing, as they do. Therefore, I have to believe that they’re not Jewish.

Why?

Because Friday I spent in Hebron, on a tour offered by Shovrim Shtika/Breaking The Silence. The group was started by soldiers who served in Hebron, the West Bank, Gaza, and wanted to tell their stories. Our tour guide was a soldier, then a commanding officer. Our very first stop, at the grave of Baruch Goldstein in the Qiryat Arba settlement, showed us how the settlers can justify and twist history. Dr. Goldstein is best known as an American-born Jew who moved to Israel and, fast forward many years, massacred 29 Arab Muslims after he barged into their mosque. He was beat to death by some of the men who survived his open-firing. At the grave, our guide attempted to tell us this history, and explain the different views of what happened and how this impacted the residents of Hebron. Instead, a settler by the name of Feldman shouted his message (which included some great conspiracies – did you know the EU is funding Israelis to kill all the Jews and bring down Israel?) and prevented our tour leader from speaking. (Our tour guide was then brought in to the police station as Feldman and another settler accused him of physically assaulting them at the grave. And two weeks ago on a tour, they accused our tour guide of desecrating the grave of Baruch Goldstein by urinating on it, which never happened. (Our tour continued without him. Luckily, he was released, and rejoined us about 4 hours later.)) When people on the tour asked Feldman why he was exalting Goldman, a murderer, his response was, “Dr. Goldman’s 17 grandkids were killed by Palestinians…” And does that justify murdering 29 men while they pray? “Understandably, he went a little crazy because of his sadness over his grandkids.” And that justified killing 29? “No… 29 were killed in terrorist attacks.” Right.

Then on to Hebron.

Perhaps I should back up and give some information for those of you unfamiliar with the city/cities. Hebron is the only city in Israel with a Jewish settlement within it. (Therefore, it’s the only Arab city that Israelis can legally go to.) But let’s back up further. In the 15th century, Jews, of Middle Eastern background, moved to Hebron for religious reasons. They wanted to live where the Tomb of the Patriarchs was located. (NB: they did not move for nationalist/zionist reasons.) They lived in fairly good relations with their Arab neighbours until the late-19th/early-20th century. As the political atmosphere started to change in Israel, the Jews of Hebron still remained peaceful and refused to take arms. This changed in 1929 when there were massacres of Jews in various locations, including Hebron, as part of a Palestinian uprising (although Jews said it was purely anti-Semitic). In Hebron, 67 Jews were killed; many more were raped and injured; property was destroyed. Most of the Jews of Hebron left the city following the massacre; the remaining Jews left Hebron in 1948. In 1967, after the area was taken from Jordan in the war, Jews returned to Hebron, and it became “one of the first settlements.” (A rabbi was given permission by the army to take a group of Jews to Hebron for Passover, but they were supposed to leave after the week. Instead, they refused to leave and the Israeli army eventually allowed the settlers to stay.) In 1970, a settlement was built next to Hebron, so the Jews moved there from the centre of Hebron. In 1979, women and their children infiltrated the Bet Hadassah (old Jewish hospital in Hebron). Because there weren’t men with them (their husbands visited on the weekends but didn’t stay all week), it wasn’t considered an actual settlement by the army. These people saw themselves as a continuation of the pre-1929 Jewish Hebron community, and said they were reclaiming Jewish property. A few of these Jews were killed in 1980 and 1981, prompting the government to respond by allowing the Jews to actually create settlements there. Four settlements were built in Hebron. In 1994 there was the Baruch Goldstein massacre. And in 1997, Hebron, a city of 150,000 Palestinians was divided into two zones/cities: H1 and H2. H1 is 80% of the city, Palestinian controlled, and had a population of 120,000 Palestinians in 1997. H2 is Israeli controlled, included the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the old city, and the industrial/market centre, and had a 1997 population of 30,000 Palestinians and 600 Jewish settlers (plus 500 soldiers, plus about 100 police). Today, about 40% of the Palestinians in H2 have left, because they are confined to certain areas of town, and have restricted access to streets, the town centre, etc.

Right. So we went into Hebron and saw the centre of town which basically looks like a ghost town. The shops are all closed and the streets are empty. It’s a “sterilized” street, which means Palestinians aren’t allowed to have shops on it or drive there. The army extends this to also mean “no walking.”

We were invited into the home of a Palestinian family. They showed us videos they took of the settlers. In one clip, the family is inside their apartment because it’s during curfew. (Curfew meant that the Palestinians had to stay in their homes, except for 2 hours every week or two, during which they could go buy food and supplies and such. In 2003-4, there were 400 curfew days.) We see the settlers destroying Palestinian homes and breaking into their locked homes, while the Palestinians are inside (because, again, it’s curfew). You can clearly see police and the IDF (army) not doing anything. Our tour guide explains that it’s hard for a few soldiers/police to hold back a mob. But on the other hand, how much are they even trying? The second clip shows a group of young Jewish girls, probably in their early teens, waiting on a hillside in Hebron. A few seconds later, Palestinian girls try to pass by, escorted by their teachers. The settlers are waiting there to push them, shout “kill the Arabs, Hebron is ours!,” and throw rocks. The police/soldiers are there, not doing anything until some of the settlers start picking fights with the Palestinian girls, pushing past their teachers, at which point the soldiers tell the settlers not to do that and try to get them to separate from the Palestinians. But not successfully; nor do they really seem to maintain any effort to keep them from repeating the offenses against the Palestinians. As the Palestinians make their way towards the edge of the hill, they have to go down some stairs to the street below. Where young settler boys are waiting with rocks, throwing rocks at the Palestinians while the soldiers on the street do nothing. The Palestinians basically run down the stairs to the street and keep running towards their homes. This is despicable, disgusting, and unacceptable behaviour. It’s explained to us that the settlers used to get out of class before the Palestinians, so they’d wait and do this most weeks. Especially on Saturdays or holidays. And the offenders are most often children, under the age of 14, because they can’t be prosecuted under the law. (Our tour guide, who served in the army, told us a story of being attacked by settler children/youth, while a father shouted in the background, “only the kids under 14!” because he knew they wouldn’t be arrested.)

Part of the problem is that there is 1 armed security person (soldier or police) for each settler in Hebron. So that’s roughly 600 settlers and roughly 600 soldiers/police. When the settlers do these horrible things, why aren’t the police/army stopping them? Because the role of the soldiers is to protect the settlers from the Palestinians. There’s nothing in their job descriptions about protecting the Palestinians from the settlers.

Another part of the problem is that a rabbi has told them that if they are actively fighting the Palestinians, then they do not need to fast on Tisha Ba’av. This tidbit, coupled with the Palestinian family who described how the violence against them, their home, and their fellow Palestinians increases on Jewish holidays made me think. My first thought was, “that’s really fucked up.” My second thought was slightly more analytical: how are the settlers rationalizing this? Some use the Torah, specifically Deuteronomy 7:1-5 which talks about destroying (some read as “killing”) the 7 nations. But, you might say, the Palestinians are not among the seven nations. Ah, yes, I would agree. However it seems that some claim that the Palestinians are the Canaanites. Ah, you might say, then the land of Canaan belongs to the Canaanites who are the Palestinians, so why don’t the settlers return the land? To this, I would say, good question – it seems they only follow the logic when it’s convenient to them.

I realise I’ve gone around in circles, and haven’t even fully begun to describe all that I want to from Friday in Hebron. But it’s late and I’m on a borrowed computer. So I’m going to have to get back to my original statement: I cannot accept that the settlers are Jewish. People that readily kill, harm, destroy, hurt, belittle, impoverish, and humiliate their neighbours are not operating within a Jewish framework, within the Torah as I know and understand it. People who lie to the police in order to have a Jew arrested so that they can present their honoured version of history, is not operating within a Jewish framework. Someone who believes they are above both civil and martial law, and uses that to wreak havoc on others is not behaving Jewishly as I know it. I can not associate myself, my religion, my Torah with a people who act so poorly towards other humans. I just can’t.

Hebron photoset (with comments) here.

I’ll write more on other aspects of Hebron when I borrow another computer.

Filed under: israel, palestine, photos, politics, travels, war, wtf?

On The Seam

As BZ briefly mentioned, a bunch of us went to Museum On The Seam on Tuesday. The “seam” in question is the division between East and West Jerusalem; it is physically located on the seam, and also focuses on contemporary art which deals with socio-political issues. We were there to see the current exhibit, Bare Life:

Bare Life is the third in a series of exhibitions on themes of human rights that we are presenting at the Museum. This exhibition aims to touch upon the increasingly unraveling seam between deviant states and normative states, and to point resolutely at the place where the temporary emergency situation turns into a legitimized ongoing situation that in the end leads to a paranoia of suspicion and to the use of violence to re-establish public order.The works on show in this exhibition were selected with an intention to present and depict the atmosphere that encourages nations and organizations to activate invasive methods which infringe the boundaries of our identity, our privacy, and the freedom we are entitled to as citizens of a world that not so long ago experienced the horrors of the Holocaust, was witness to atrocities and to contempt of human values, and was enlightened enough to proclaim its aspiration for reforms and new directions in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was formulated after the end of that terrible war.

This aspiration is confronted in the exhibition by means of works by 42 artists from all over the world, some of whom are showing this work in Israel for the first time. In their works, these artists bring testimonies that attempt to clarify the nature of relations in times of trouble and in periods of uncertainty which the regime or the sovereign define by as a times for restoring order, which accords the authorities the power to use all the means at their disposal.

While many of the pieces focused on the ongoing Israel/Palestine conflict, there was also work focusing on the former USSR, China, South Africa, the US South, and more.

There were some very interesting pieces, a lot of mixed and multi-media. The one I found the most intense was a video installation, which featured a line of people stepping forward to see *something* (we don’t know what), and their reaction to the *something*. Most cried, gasped, looked horrified, quickly looked away then stole additional glances. Equally interesting, and I think this was the artist’s main point, was seeing the people’s interactions with one another – a touch on the shoulder, a reassuring look, a hug… I was mesmerized, and ended up watching the full video. For me, that piece made the whole exhibit worthwhile.

Equally interesting was the rooftop view. The museum has sketched out the surrounding neighbourhoods, placing a sketch-map at each cardinal direction so you can know which buildings and neighbourhoods you’re looking at from your vantage point on the seam. It was really interesting.*

I have to call the museum back and find out when their next exhibit will be rolling in, as I want to go back. If you speak English, Hebrew, or Arabic (the museum is trilingual) you should check it out too.

*This isn’t quite the right post for this, but I’m hijacking it: While I’ve mentioned hearing the adhan before, I don’t think I’ve mentioned how much I enjoy living in a place where I can hear the call to prayer multiple times a day. I heard it while I was on the rooftop of the museum, I can hear it from my apartment, I hear it when I’m at shuk, I hear it all around town. I love it. Even though I know that there is a huge separation between the Jews and Muslims, especially in a city and country where Arabs are constantly profiled, treated suspiciously, and pushed down, it makes me feel a connection to Jerusalem that I haven’t otherwise felt. It gives me hope that these neighbours, descendants of Abraham/Ibrahim can live and pray together. When I hear their adhan, I’m reminded that I have (or haven’t) davened three times that day, just as there are Muslims who have (or haven’t) prayed five times that day. And it reminds me of “Muslim Shabbat,” and the great conversations I would have with my Muslim friends at Concordia. And it reminds me of the times I went to the mosque with friends, and stood next to them in prayer, davening the amidah while they went through the salat recitations, noticing the similarities between both prayers in their formula and body movements. I think I need to find a joint prayer/religious group here.

Filed under: israel, judaism, palestine, politics, religion, war

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