Israel: Day 4

After a brief sleep, I woke up at 6:30 for breakfast. We drove over to Shorashim, a settlement founded by American Jews, similar to a kibbutz, but by definition, different. I attempted to call my Dad from a pay phone there so he would have a Happy Father’s Day message when he woke up, but unfortunately the phone required a certain type of pay card.
We gathered in the synagogue/town center and a Jewish woman who lives in Shorashim explained some of the tensions that exist between Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews. I had no idea how isolated the two religions are, but I got a much better idea of the problems faced in forming a religious state these days.
I had a lot of questions about the necessity of Zionism. Because the US has always taught that a solid democracy isolates church and state as much a s possible, it was hard to understand the logistics. It only occurred to me later in the day that most of the countries in this area have a dominant religion, Why shouldn’t Jews have one too?
An Arab Israeli named Iman spoke to us about the injustices she faces as “an Arab in Israel,” the way she identifies herself. It was nice because she was 20 years old too so we could certainly relate to her life, if not her exact situation.
After that, we wandered around an Arabic city discussing a cemetery and a mosque. My former roommate, Danielle, complained about the trash in the city. She complained that it was dirty. She didn’t seem to see that Arab-Israelis get les money from the government for their cities and projects (because they do not serve in the army). And I guess she didn’t listen when Shahar told us that Muslims value the inside of their houses, not what is on the outside. This meant that many of the houses were covered in rough unfinished concrete.
After that we headed to the grocery store and broke up into groups. Each group was given 100 shekles and a shopping list in Hebrew. It was sort of a race and we ended up with a ton of food for a picnic. The picnic was held at Gan HaShelosha, these beautiful natural pools an waterfalls. We swam and ate and at one point a little fish swam up and sucked on my foot. Yuck! I also realized how long it has been since I have been in the water. I loved it.
After that we drove into Jerusalem. We went up to a balcony of the hotel and said the Shecheciyanu after dinner and then got to have a little lecture from Gil Hoffman, an American reporter who was bored with the news in the US, so he made aliyah. He writes for the Jerusalem Sun and he discussed with us what the Presidential elections in the US mean to Israelis and why they were fans of George Bush. He was a funny and interesting speaker and he explained some of the flaws of the Israeli political system. In short, the candidates don’t have to speak. Their ideas remain unclarified without the sort of debates we have in the US. They also do not allow the press to ask them about key issues.
I was excited to go to bed that night and wake up to see Jerusalem!!

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