Israel Stories

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Green Line

The three American yeshiva students piled into my car.

“Thanks man, we’d be like stuck if it wasn’t for you, and we didn’t want to be here after night fall, we’ve been warned not to stay out by ourselves at night.”

Visions of all those 80’s horror films came to mind, Freddy Kruger meets Jason, young students being hacked to death for being beautiful and naive. These guys were certainly not beautiful.

“Yes, I said, Kfar Sava is in very close proximity to the green line.”

I looked in the rear view mirror at there appreciative smiles and clear relief to be inside a car speeding from the dangerous hotspot of Kfar Sava to Bet Shemesh.

“How long have you guys been out here?” I reckoned on about two weeks.

“This is our second” (smug smile) ………….” year.”

I nearly crashed the car. I did all that was humanly possible not to laugh.

“Oh,” I said.

“But this was our first time in Kfar Sava, we looked on the map and saw all the Arab villages and towns nearby, you know like Kelkilia and Jaljulia, dangerous places man, dangerous places. Much respect to the settlers who live here.”

“Where do you live?” I asked

“In the Old City” they replied together. I detected much pride and quite rightly, but I was confused.

“But isn’t the Old City very close to the Arabs you are so afraid of?”

“No man,” one of the laughed at my apparent naivety, “we are in the Jewish quarter, safe as anything”.

“Well actually, Oh forget it”. I hadn’t the strength to put them right and why ruin the stories they’d tell their pals and parents.

I decided to take the very long rout home. I had to make a stop in Tel Aviv. As we drove south through Tel Aviv and passed all Hotels, the boys started marveling the beach. Jaffa shimmered in the late afternoon sun. Then one of the boys started shouting.

“Hey guys, look over there a mosque, wow this is really turning out to be a dangerous ride man”.

The mosque in question is the one just by the Dolphinarium.

Then another shout, “look guys in the distance about three kliks, another mosque”.

This time it was Jaffa. It went very quiet in the back, nervous chatter turned to Tefilat Haderech.

“I had no idea,” said one of the boys, “that we were so close to the Arabs even in Tel Aviv.”

Heaven help them if they ever opened an atlas of the world and saw the tiny Jewish States location nestled among its Arab and Muslim neighbors.

You can imagine, a postcard arrives in Beverly Hills:

‘Dear Mom and Dad, hope you are OK. I am missing you. Israel is great and I am attending most of my lessons. Please can you increase my credit limit as the card doesn’t seem to be working, Dad can sort it out. Jerusalem is great, but my cell phone doesn’t work everywhere, but it’s not so bad. We were in Kfar Sava, its really on the edge, quite literally, right by the Arabs. It was dangerous but we are OK. I was thinking of visiting my cousins in Netanya but someone told me it’s only a few miles from Tul Karem so I think its best that I don’t. We are going on a trip to Hebron with the yeshiva in an armored bus, cant wait, it’ll be really cool. Not sure where Hebron is and why we need an armored bus, maybe its because of the dangerous drivers here.. Anyway, send my love to everyone and if Dad can fix my credit card it would be great. Your loving son, Shmuel (Sam).

“Any of you thinking about making Aliyah?” I asked, knowing the answer.

“Of course man, this place is an adrenalin rush. We need to defend our people. This is our land. Jews for the Jewish Land, Israel is real! “

“So man, like did you do the army? Did you kill anyone? “

I thought about telling them the time I killed a fox on the mountain road to Jerusalem, very messy.

“Look guys, Israel isn’t just about the army, it’s about living day to day and not day by day. We worry about the country, the conflict with the Palestinians, but we also worry about work, what schools to send our kids to, where our bar-b-q will be on Yom Ha’Atzmaut. Israel is about real life and real people.”

Silence and then “Yes, but we can do the army to?”

“It’s your duty”, I replied.

“Our duty”, they echoed with smiles on their faces.

I dropped the boys off in Bet Shemesh to catch a ride to Jerusalem. I wondered if the boys understood what Israel really meant, if they could see past the army and delusions of grandeur.

Who am I kidding?

At the time of writing this blog Gilad Shalit is still missing, please pray for his safe return.

Our heartfelt condolences go out to the families of Eliyahu Asheri who was recently murdered by Palestinian terrorists and St.-Sgt. Yehuda Basel, killed serving his country. Their pain is unimaginable as the entire nation grieves along side them.


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