Saturday, November 17, 2012


I walked back to my friends' house from the Senate office building, and fortunately their housemate was home! Not fortunate that he has to stay home studying for the GRE's for days on end, but I wasn't keen on standing out in the cold much longer, so to see him was just wonderful.

As I put myself down, he said, "pretty interesting timing, everything happening in Gaza while you're on this tour."

I said, "yeah, well, it's about the Israeli elections."


"Yeah, the government gets to decide when the elections are, then they can turn up the heat in the occupied territories and start a war so the people will vote conservative.

"So you think that's one of the reasons?"

"Yeah, most of the big offensives have happened surrounding Israeli elections. But it's not just Gaza. The West Bank is also under attack."

"Really? I haven't heard about that on the news."

"Even the liberal media isn't paying attention to the West Bank. Everyone's eyes are on Gaza."

Then I showed him the map I showed this Army Fellow at the House offices today. It's a map of Palestinian villages in the Jordan Valley. I showed him that the Northern Jordan Valley villages are getting evacuated in the next month, so the valley can get annexed.

"How did the army guy respond?"

 "He was actually really receptive. He didn't know about the demolition policies. I don't think most people on the Hill know."

Didn't he try to go with his party lines, and talk about Israeli security?"

"No,  there was nothing really he could say. We built a kindergarten, it's under demolition order. Palestinians can't build on their own land in Area C. What can you say to that? Nothing....sometimes Israelis try to justify it to me, but you can justify anything if you try, and man do they try. Like Gaza....."

He had been to Israel, to visit Shelby, our friend, for a few days, but it was a whirlwind trip, he said.

"Still, it's amazing to meet people who've been over there." Not surprising that he was keeping up with the news, then. Or is everyone keeping up? I'm somehow still perplexed when people post non-Palestine related things on Facebook. Turn out that between the 70% of posts about Gaza (ok, my mini-feed is a little skewed), there are still dinners, bars, sports teams, weddings, vacations, homework, and national politics still happening! Especially now that I'm in DC, observing my friends and the students and interns and staffers I see, part of me wants to tone down the language and jump into the system and let la la la la life go on.

And when I don't feel that way, it's when I'm walking from one place to another, checking my mini-feed, and reflecting on my role in all of this. I'm getting number and number. 

The Quakers helped me a lot today. At eleven I went to my Senator's office, and found that I was an hour early for the FCNL meeting, but the aide who was taking a break went to high school near me and we had at least ten friends in common. I came back at noon and met the Washington State crew, which had a dozen people assembled to meet with Senator Murray's Deputy Chief-of-Staff. We went around the table and said where we were from and why we were supporting our Ask-to decrease the Pentagon budget by 1 trillion dollars over the next ten years. Most people talked about accountability, one woman said her son was in AmeriCorps, and I jumped on that train, though I was definitely the oddball talking about military aid to Israel. As soon as the Chief-of-Staff passed out his business card, I saw his name and thought, "if he's Jewish, can I talk about Israel? Here? Now?" I thought about watering down my statement, but I didn't have much time to think. It came to me, and I said I worked with communities facing demolition by the Israeli army, and I'm concerned with our unquestioned aid to Israel and to other foreign security forces that aren't making us safer. It was a little awkward, not bad for a first-timer though. Then I mentioned the map we're developing, so we can come back and show them how many constituents care about this issue..."to make your job easier." I got a lot of murmurs of approval for that.

That meeting was my first lobby meeting. It was immensely helpful. I realized the system isn't as inaccessible as I thought. Now that I've seen who works in my Senator's office, I feel more comfortable with cultivating a relationship there. 

Then I visited my cousin, who works for a Minnesota senator. She does research, and is busy busy all the time, but she loves her job, and working in the Hart building, which is much newer and snazzier than Russell, where I'd just come from, where my Senator works.

On the way home I re-affirmed this feeling that I don't want to take a position that someone would otherwise fill. But how much longer can I support myself this way?


Me: "It's so cool that you guys have a record machine."

"Yeah....did you just call it a record machine?"

"Hmm, I think it's the same thing. Maybe I'm a total martian. I think there's a song where they talk about record machine."


5 minutes later...

"It's from Grease. 'Droppin dimes in the record machine, ah ah ah rock 'n roll party queen...'"

"That does sound like Grease. Though....I think what you're talking about is a jukebox."



Now we're listening to the Smiths on the record player....