"Andrea, you are a tailor-made, bearded, dink" - these are the words I hear from one of our travel companions, John.
He is sarcastically responding to some bullshit I spouted off while drunk. Just for your information, tailor-made refers to cigarettes, bearded refers to women who act as their gay friend's girl friend (e.g., date at best friend's wedding), because he hasn't come out of the closet yet & D.I.N.K. - dual income no kids. The later seems most true.
Although John occasionally blesses his friends with his witty commentary, he was also the one (of two) who got stuck in Israeli immigration for over an hour. Apparently telling Israeli authorities that you are unemployed and are unsure whether you will be visiting East Jerusalem does not guarantee you automatic entry into the State of Israel. And as I wait during this hour at the baggage pick-up, I serious think the Israeli's should consider constructing a bar here, since so many of us are stuck waiting for our travel companions to pass the rigorous security test. Of course, I had no problem getting through immigration but then I understand the mind of the immigration official - stereotypes. Show up with a significant other (hetero), act like a couple (hold hands, look enthralled with one another, bicker cutely), let the man talk at the immigration booth (i.e., women, only speak when spoken to) - guarantee entry ever time.
So besides the super secure airport passage, what is so unique about Israel? At this point in the blogging I have only experienced Tel Aviv and surrounding areas (e.g., Jaffa). So no great enlightening observations so far. So first off, it's warmer and there is a beach in Tel Aviv with real sand. Similar to Europe, drinking is allowed on the street, and makeshift BBQs can be used on public beaches. Pretty cool but not surprising-you've seen it all before, just somewhere else. Perhaps Tel Aviv is best described as the rest of the Western world except with Judaism acting as the backbone of the socio-cultural fabric instead of Christianity.
I was informed that Tel Aviv is considered the secular bubble of Israel. The rest of Israel is predominately orthodox Jewish (similar to beyond the urban limits of Canada - like Albertan oil tycoon ideology - or Texas for the rest of you).
"Israel, for its size, is the focal point for a lot of world bullshit."* Thank you for the astute observation John. This is the same guy who was accosted during breakfast for being from Canada and not knowing how to speak our second language - French. No not I, I do not get involved in such ridiculous conversations (or at least not so far). Not only John, but Kate (our other travel companion - who was part of the Israeli shakedown at the boarder) has also had the pleasure of experiencing some challenging dialogue. It was just this morning that she was confronted by a Christian who gave her a lecture on the recent bone discovery of Jesus remnants - "Well, he had to die sometime?" she offered as a condolence for the 20-minute tirade the Christian gave, which she cared nothing about. "I'm not going to be angry!" Chris, the Christian retorted, "Jesus ascended to heaven in flesh form - the bible does not lie!"
* Quick disclaimer: John quotations may or may not be entirely accurate, as I was quite hammered during our conversations.
Yes, Chris, of course he did, and maybe we will stop by your place later tonight to "hang out". Kate did everything in her power to be the polite Canadian that she is, and walked away from the fucked up shit that was Chris, without making a scene. Impressive. And Kate officially wins the "first encounter with a crazie" award on this trip.
But I digress....
Israel is all about the conflict, for sure. This is not economic based but cultural (i.e., religious and private property acquisition- land ownership). Think of all world wars - land ownership was the predominant issue of contention. But let's face it people, this ain't Iraq here, this is a mid-point between that and Quebec wanting to separate from Canada. I think Israel gets a lot of slack because, well they are predominately Jewish (ethnically at least, not necessarily religious-and yes, there is a difference), and they are engaged in a struggle with Palestinians (aka Muslims). Since 9-11, I think even your average Canadian knows what the current state of affairs (war) is about now, if they have any basic knowledge of world history. Cold war Communism exit stage left...the time is for the Muslim-Christian war. Like that shit ain't been going on forever!
So why do we equate Jews with Christians? I don't know if we do; but, we sure as fuck do seem to give them a lot of foreign aid. If I have learned nothing in my micro economics class, I know you don't get shit for free. But I really don't know how much more I can comment, except for the fact (from what I have read and discussed with the locals) - the majority of Israelis are not crazy religious freaks, they are just living their lives like the rest of us. Same issues just different geographies. Cheers, I will drink to that.