Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Dad got talking a bit after dinner. We were talking to Andrew about colleges and stuff and went to this website called where you earn rice to be donated to the hungry by answering vocabulary questions. We were talking about first semester senior year of high school being a tough semester and then second semester being a breeze as all your college applications are done and you’re just waiting to hear and figure out where you are going to go. Dad started telling us about how his English teacher failed him because he didn’t do any work. So he had to go to school for an extra semester basically because he was a smart ass. He would get to class and write the teacher’s name on the chalkboard, because he thought it was funny. We were joking around how Jackie was loquacious and Dad said his father was an introvert and we asked Andrew if he knew what those words meant. Dad told a story where he went into this Greek coffee shop and his Dad was sitting at the counter having a cup of coffee and Dad sat down next to him and his father never said a word to him. He drank his coffee, paid and left without ever saying a word to his son. “And I thought I was quiet sometimes.” I said to Andrew. “Your mom is an extrovert.” And so we tried working on some vocabulary together and then switched to the painting questions earning 600 grains of rice for someone out there….

The film we saw last night was very thought provoking. About 10 of us were there to see the film, “Little Town of Bethlehem” and after the film we had a short round table discussion about our feelings about the film. The film was basically looking at the Israel – Palestine conundrum through the eyes of an Israeli, a Palestinian Christian, and a Palestinian Muslim. The most memorable moment of the film for me was when the Palestinian Christian man said he was visiting Auschwitz and there was a group of Young Israelis there and he overheard the tour guide telling them that this is what the Palestinians want to do to Israel…

And that made me think of one of my most memorable moments during our trip to Israel. After our 3+ hour hike in the Yehuda National Park Reserve we bought a couple of ice creams from the park shop and sat down on some steps and relaxed and ate them. The man who sold them to us went on break and walked by. I asked him if he knew how far it was to Tel Aviv and then we got talking. He lived in a town close by where he said 200 of his and his wife’s relatives lived. He told me that Israel was the only place for Jews to live. He was expecting his fourth child any day. The day before was the terrorist killing of the 4 innocent Jews in their car outside of Hebron. He was the first one who told me about that – Micah and I had been in that place only 5 or 6 days before. We were talking about the conflict and he said, “there will not be peace in my life time. Arab children are taught to hate Jews and Jewish children are taught to hate Arabs, until we both change how we teach our children there will not be peace.”

That reminded me of something else I learned while I was in Israel. At some point in Israel they did a reeducation campaign to teach people not to pick the wildflowers, they started with children and somehow it trickled up and down and it was the most successful reeducation campaign in Israel – no one picks the wildflowers anymore.

Now we just need to teach them not to throw their trash all over their parks….yet another issue.

And so that was my roundtable contribution. The conversation was lively about the bias of the film and how complicated the situation in Israel is, with secular jews, religious jews, and the history, so much history, Iran, good Palestinians, the Hamas, the Hezballah. Syria, land swaps. There is no simple solution, but it doesn’t mean that there will never be peace.

One day there will be peace, but in whose lifetime?

Today, I worked a full day. Getting my work done, getting broken machines fixed and running the register and talking to customers and generally having fun. One funny exchange with this woman I know from back east, she was walking around the store with her 15 month old daughter and this other younger woman I thought was a mother’s helper. They were shopping, I was visiting with the mom and her baby and then later on almost as an afterthought she introduced me to her niece. And I said, “Oh, I thought she was your slave.” The woman laughed hysterically, saying, “My niece is loving that,” and I said, “well, I said it for her benefit” and then everyone was laughing even harder. I asked the woman’s niece if she had ever been here before and she hadn’t and the woman said, “yeah, not a bad place to be a slave…”

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