Thursday, May 10, 2012

I got out of the Ministry of Interior with Gila, and thought, damn. I have to plan the next seven days with such precision. Every moment is precious. The only thing I knew is that from that point onward, I would never fudge around with this visa process. I would never around run around frantically, hoping some official at a desk will have pity on me. The only thing that can stop me from coming back here is the possibility that my blogging and filming in the West Bank has put a black mark on my record. I really hope that isn't the case. I was even prepared to give a schpeel at my appointment about how I came to the West Bank as an activist and now I'm reformed. See my nice Israeli friend here? I'll be staying with her. She's showing me so much about the complexities of Israeli culture and I feel like I'm becoming so much more well-rounded and understanding of the "other side." That's not bullshit, by the way. I've learned so much from Gila already. When we were in the spice shop in Nablus she pointed out some metallic goblets and said they were part of a Jewish tradition, when we were in the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station she said this place reminded her of when she and her friends would skip school and go hang out on the beach in Tel Aviv. For me it's always been the little things, piecing someone's life together, feeling their nostalgia. I've been told I'm a very nostalgic person. I just think it's impossible not to change as a person when you hear someone crank up the radio and say, "this is my childhood!" I haven't talked much about my experiences in Israel. Back in October, I said I would recount my Halloween experience in Jaffa, but I never got back to it. Why can't I just go stream-of-consciousness like I do in Palestine? The feeling is, it's just too heavy. I experience so much in Israel, so much that I want to talk about and discuss. But it's a total mindfuck. My mind is still moving but I can't describe the experience of sitting on the light rail train with soldiers and Orthodox families and teenage girls and calling Haj Sami and wondering what my English students would think of me now, embedded in this culture that they couldn't experience even if they wanted to. It's so hard to explain this feeling, so I think I'll be forced to chop it up into moments, like the Glimpses of Palestine. Here's one: This was after I made a slightly sarcastic comment about the "apartheid train," because the light rail crosses Arab East Jerusalem into the settlements, and Gila told me she agrees with the train somewhat because there is an interaction that happens, between Israelis and the Palestinians who choose to ride the train. So we were standing in the train, about to get off at Damascus gate so we could take the 18 Bus to Ramallah. For the last minute or so this little baby was fussing and crying, and his mother, Jewish Orthodox, was trying to get him to calm down. On the opposite bench there was a Palestinian woman with a baby in her lap, and once the Israeli baby had calmed down, the mothers looked at each other. Gila looked back at me and said, "see? they just had a moment." I spent Memorial Day (fallen soldiers day) and Independence Day in Israel, which wasn't planned but it was a very interesting experience. Now it's too far removed to tell the complete story, but three events are worth mentioning. In the next post.