Thursday, March 11, 2010

East Jerusalem

Last week, while on my tour of Israel with EdHill Tours, I ventured out into Jerusalem, in search of Wifi. I led some others to buy vino and other things and then went my own way, ended up at CaféCafe while it poured buckets of water on my head.
A Palestinian friend came to meet me- we learned about each others beliefs: Religions, families and jobs- switching constantly between Arabic, English and Hebrew. I’m coming to a place where it’s really exciting for me to speak because I can have a decent conversation in either language. He took me to East Jerusalem- to a hookah café. It’s funny to note the immediate differences you see when you drive three blocks from Israel to East Jerusalem-signs all in Arabic, men and women in kufeyas, burqa’s and hijabs. The buildings, plants and streets are not as well kempt; crusty paint, crumbled chip bags, fewer lights and an aura of simplicity. There is an absence of aesthetics here- in much of the Arab world- big flashy, bright and new is not their style. Everyone is with families, working, or smoking nargila. Like Cairo, I was once again the only women in the entire café- we smoked and talked politics. I had to mentally change my brain to Arabic. Typical of the Arab cafés-- all men, a soccer game playing in the background, and men mumbling words back and forth between puffs. He explained his views of Israel to me. He says “the Jews took our land, kill our people. We fight with rocks to defend our homes that the settlers take and then shoot will guns.”
He also told me the Holocaust didn’t happen- that the numbers were exaggerated to a ridiculous degree and that Hitler had the right idea. It’s sad- but I have gotten used to hearing this from the other side. I obviously do not agree – if anything, I believe the Holocaust was covered up way more than we know. He later told me he had Jewish friends but absolutely hated the settlers. Not surprising.

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