Sabrecca* in Palestine
cognitive dissonance was never so good

After a very intense and food-stuffed Shabbat with the Modern Orthodox (mod-orth?) of the Old City, I went out to a Jerusalem gay bar last night with some yeshiva boys (not mod-orths) and my frum friend Esther's sister, Yael, lesbian soldier barista extraordinaire. Then today I took the #124 bus from the Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem to the Bethlehem checkpoint and crossed into the West Bank for a visit to the church of the Nativity (small, elegantly austere and filled with spirit) and then a long day in the Deheisha refugee camp. My heart is hurting and my head is spinning.

I thought Sri Lanka had bizarrely imponderable cultural collisions. I hadn't been here. I go from a discussion with religious Torah-studying girls about shomer negi'ah, a facet of being observant in which men and women don't touch each other in order to preserve the specialness of touch for the marriage relationship, to drinking cheap Golan wine from the bottle in Kikkar Tzion with 19-year-old Oklahoman rabid aliyahboy Yossi, to rocking out to Madonna with cute German aryan-queen dyke Karina, to praying on the spot where Jesus was born (cave, not stable), to watching Palestinian boys practice circus tricks with improvised equipment in a half-finished basement. I can't write about Israel in non-run-on sentences, clearly.

The refugee camp is sticking in my throat. How can I have celebrated a beautiful Shabbat when twenty minutes away children are playing in an empty dirty subfloor and young men are risking their lives to throw rocks at soldiers because they have no other form of protest when their little sisters are shot and their homes are bulldozed? I am sitting in the Jewish Heritage Home, a free hostel for Jews in the Old City to stay at while studying or travelling, listening with one ear to Jerry Maguire on the VCR and simply in disbelief. Jerry Maguire! Are we really all just sitting here, drinking tea and eating pound cake?

So many Israelis will never see the other side of the wall--literally--which is covered in graffiti and murals. They think the Palestinians only want to kill Jews. The state has effectively hidden the Palestine-side art and protests. The plain gray concrete side promises only a bland simple brutality: keep them in.

*thanks to my dear ima


ester said...

for real. i don't know if this spot has been hidden since The Wall went up, but there used to be this hillside in j'lem were you could stand -- and behind you, j'lem sparkled in all its 1st world glory, and before you, you could see the 3rd world little gray boxes where the palestinians lived.

Rebecca said...

there are spots where you can see both at the same time. our ever-sensitive guide nicola was very fond of sneering that the arabs have 'no town planning.'