Thursday, October 8, 2009

Returning to observations after a long interlude

In my last entry I wrote about the car accident in which my wife was injured. She has since been transferred to Jeruslaem, gone through an operation on her pelvis and is now beginning the first stages of recuperation. With any kind of luck she will be transferred next week to the medical facility on our kibbutz which is completely equipped to take care of her and will allow her family and friends to be with her and support her in her determined quest to return to full mobility as soon as possible. The doctors are convinced that she will be fine and she seems completely determined to optimize the recuperative process.

It is ironic that here I go and set up a blog to give someone a feel for some of the daily life issues and observations of living in Israel and yet the daily events of my life completely overwhelm me and lead to about a ten day gap in writing in this blog.

I also find myself thinking a lot about hospitals and Jersualem since that has been a big part of my daily life over the last 10 days. On Shabbat I went to the Old City of Jeruslaem with our 27 year old daughter andf our 15 year old son. We had a really nice relaxing time walking through the markets, bargaining for a chess set that we have wanted for a long time and finally sitting down for some excellent humus in one of my favorite hole in the wall humus places. It is called Lida's and is not far from the main road in the Christian Quarter. Who would have beleived that there was such tension around the Wailing Wall and and the El Akse mosque that day and in the last few days.

In these resteraunts you are always served olives, pickles and fresh onion to munch on. Frankly we never touch the onions, but the Arab gentleman sitting next to us with his wife was already on his second plate when I offered him ours as well. He pointed out to us that humus and onions are one of the great gartonomical combos of the world. We got to talking and amazingly enough he, a Sofi Sheik (religious leader) from near Nazareth comes to the Old City nearly every weekend for his humus fix. It also turned out that he and his wife had been living in the Washington DC area for the last three years just like we had. Amazing coincedence! We talked about living here, living there and discussed different food options with great gusto. Just amazing how conversations can develop into such unexpected events!

I also realized how much hospitals reflect their social surrounding. In Hillel Yaffe, there are almost no ultra-Orthodox people and English is almost never heard. There the staff is overwhelmngly Arab and Russian. In Jerusalem, there are a lot of ultra Orthodox people and English is commonly heard. As in all the hospitals that I am familiar with in Israel, there is an excellent interaction betwen the Arab and Jewish staff. There is a sense of unity of purpose and compassion that seems to transcend politcal boundaries.

Speaking of politics, I have sensed of late just how often we use the word here "war" (milchama מלחמה) to discuss so many differnt phenomena - the war against drugs, the war against traffic accidents, the war against wasting water. It is interesting that that is the chosen motif. Are we really declaring war? Is this a way of stating that we are absolutely serious? Do we use this motif because this is a clear concept to us or are there other reasons? In many ways it is such an error, not just because these are not military operations, but also because much of the activity that is needed in all of these areas is educational. counselling and open discussion - none of which fit into the war motif. Our use of the war motif seems to indicate a desire to eradicate more than to understand, prevent and cure.

Finally, I was listening to our Foreigh minister speaking his opinion that there will not be peace betwen Israel and te Plaestinians for amy years. It seems to me so wrong and tactically inept to drive a stake in the heart ofnegotiations like that. If you want to sit down with no preconditions, how can this statement be of assistance .Certainly if I were hearing that statement from the Palestinian side, it would only make me that it is right to continue to demand a freeze on settleemnts becasue 10 years from now Israel will have established cities and opulations in hte west bank that it will be impossible to alter.

Tomorrow we are heading to Jerusalem to visit my wife. We will also spend some time in the city. It has been several years since I wasin Jersualem getting ready for Shabbat - should be interesting.

A couple of other observations from the news today.

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