I have really loved Israel! I have no doubt in my mind that I will be back here again.
I meant it when I said that Israel is the 53rd state- I constantly heard Lady Gaga, Kei$ha, Beyonce and even older men listen to Cat Stevens and Led Zeppelin. I honestly felt like they knew the lyrics more than I did... I know i know I am american, but really havent listened to main stream pop as religiously as I used to. Snir (Yanivs brother) makes mixes of pop music in his home and would play it loud enough to break the windows. I love to dance, and am not shy about it- so I didnt mind at all.
I always learned about the "middle eastern conflict" in Poly Sci classes but experiencing it has been overwhelmingly differnent. Yaniv has his friends decided to take me to the check point at the border of the West Bank called Quilqerium, rather than me taking a taxi (which saved me 60 bucks). We had to lie to all of their parents because they are absolutley forbidden to go anywhere near the boarder. You see.. If a Jew goes into Palistine they have the risk of getting killed. The Arabs will through rocks at there car, get them to stop and find a way to stone or lynch the Jew. Yaniv told me story after story about Israelis putting in a destination in their GPS and due to the close proximity of their enemies, the GPS would direct them into the Bank. They risked alot by offering to take me, I was nervous but very thankful for the lift.
They dropped me off at what looked like a Tijuana immigration line and we said our goodbyes. They were very nervous and I didnt want to keep them in a dangerous situation so I hurried them away and went inside. i honestly dont want to get into too many political details- but to keep it short. My friends had dropped me off at a checkpoint for immigration workers ONLY. I was told to get a cab to a different check point. I dont have a phone, nor do I speak Hebrew or Arabic and my Professors were waiting for me on the other side of the checkpoint... so this is where things got messy.
I flagged down a man that works as a shuttle for immigrant workers and tried to explain my situation, his reply? "not engleesh, no I engleeesh" He spoke Arabic. Damn. (its strange how instinctively I started using Italian and Spanish to express myself.. heh heh.. not helpin much here!!!) I used body language until he got his cell phone out and I called my professors. But remember that Palestinians have NO idea what is in Israel because they are not allowed over the border, They cant even look things up on google maps in Israel, I tried its blocked. So my professors had NO idea where I was. After a nearly 10 minute phone call I started to get worried. And welll.... ok ok I started to cry. It was overwhelming. Picture this: Me. Knee Brace. 40 LBS pack. Crying. Desert. Imigration workers staring. Wiping snot on my modest long sleeve shirt. Sweating. and a shuttle driver yelling into the phone. murrrr....
Eventually, they negotiated a deal and he drove me 5 minutes to a different checkpoint. The tears were already coming by now, and its hard to just turn them off. So we sat for the whole 5 minute drive listening to Arabic music and occasionally my sniffles and whimpers would slip out. Twice he tried saying something that sounded like "dont cry, its okay" but.. of course, it was in Arabic. I eventually met up with my Professors and was fed hummus and pita within twenty minutes. So.. if there was no such thing as this conflict? it would have taken me 30 mintutes to drive from Tel Aviv to Quilqerium- but my crossing took nearly four and a half hours.