Israel is the most political place I have ever been. Even the people who don’t like to talk about politics have a strong opinion. Today a guy on the bus started chatting with me and told me “I hate to say this, but you’re the kind of person that we love to hate”. This from “where do you work?” “at an organization involved in the peace process.” He also told me peace was not a national interest – I wonder how many people share his opinion.
Anyway – this is supposed to be about Jerusalem Day. In fact, that is what got the man on the bus and I started. There was a loud group of people outside MacDonalds (I always seem to forget my camera when interesting things happen) and blue and white balloons and the Israeli flag everywhere. I asked him what was happening, and he told me “today is Jerusalem Day… the day Jerusalem was liberated from Arab hands.” Funny, I didn’t know the city of Jerusalem felt trapped. In any case, it’s an odd thing to celebrate since unified Jerusalem is such a contentious issue – but I guess that’s the point. In any case, I was happy to hear from a co-worker that the number of people outside of Jerusalem who care about Jerusalem Day is very small.
Of course – this sent me to Wikipedia. “Jerusalem Day is an Israeli national holiday commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem and the establishment of Israeli control over the Old City in June 1967. The Chief Rabbinate of Israel declared Jerusalem Day a minor religious holiday to thank God for victory in the Six-Day War and for answering the 2,000-year-old prayer of “Next Year in Jerusalem”.” Interesting.
On another note, two days ago I went to visit an apartment. The people living there seemed so nice on the internet, a bunch of Canadians who were really friendly. When I got to the building, I rang the doorbell and one of them came bounding out. “So before you come in, just because the guys I live with are extremely right-wing, are you a leftist or something?” I was so startled, but I have made it a point over recent years not to back down and to stick up for my opinions and values, so I responded with “yes, I am, but that doesn’t make me anti-Israeli.” Needless to say, I wasn’t allowed into the apartment. His friends had seen a photo of the Tunisian flag in my profile pictures and thought it was the Turkish flotilla flag (good to know they know who their enemies are) and that made me a no-no as a roommate. Not that I care much, they were all (self-admitted) Harper supporters who had come to Israel “to fight… to the death.”
In the face of all this, I sometimes wonder if peace will ever be possible. I guess the point is that we must always hope.