Monday, January 08, 2007
the things that make me shake my head
This was a list I wrote while in the West Bank but hadn't ever posted.
Things that Make Me Shake My Head
• The sign hanging on the Israeli-built wall surrounding Bethlehem from the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, saying “Peace be upon you”.
• The sign at the entrance of Birzeit University saying it is forbidden to carry firearms on campus.
• Toy guns in Palestine, including M-4 machine guns that all look absolutely real and that all boys have and play with incessantly.
• The fact that I haven’t met an Israeli yet who finds it ironic they are enclosing Palestinians in a ghetto akin to the one Jews were forced to live in in Europe.
• That Palestinians don’t walk on sidewalks and prefer the middle of the street. I understand why—there is all sorts of stuff spilling out from stores on to the sidewalk, but still, it feels darn strange to be inches away from careening cars.
• That everything is over the top—food is wallowing in oil; sweets make your teeth ache, coffee so bitter and thick you have to chew it, more cigarette smoke than fresh air, music blasted at deafening decibels…
• Jerusalem. It looks like Halloween every day there…one street with orthodox Jews wearing oversized, round, fur hats with long sideburns, or these wool capes…one street a maze of Arab women fully covered (ninja ladies as an Israeli Arab friend called them)…and another filled with Christian pilgrims, wailing, sobbing, and carrying a cross up to where Jesus was crucified. Yes, really…
• The taxi I usually take to Ramallah. Invariably stuffed animals on the dashboard, fringe on the ceiling, and hearts and Muslim paraphernalia hanging throughout.
• Speed bumps. They are everywhere and they are lethal. Taxi drivers have to memorize where they are since there are no reflecting lights on them and no advance warning. For two weeks, I was being rocketed to the ceiling of the taxi as we careened over one of them at breakneck speed. “Sorry,” would say the driver, “that’s a new one.”
• Playing ultimate frisbee in Tel Aviv in Hebrew. Talk about adding an element of difficulty to a sport.