I’ve had the last few days entirely to myself here. I’ve been at a bit of a loss about how to spend my time, unquestioningly thankful today wraps everything up.
I was very kindly hosted last night by two Italian women who work in peacebuilding here. At least one of them is part of a intentional Catholic community in Italy (sounding pretty similar to the Catholic Worker) with an emphasis on poverty and social justice. This community sponsors Fede and Alé’s work here where they collaborate with CPT as their own team called ‘Operation Dove.’ I mention them mainly because I am so impressed by the thought of an intentional community that not only focuses on intra-community dynamics and Utopian ideals but also that risks so much for the wider world outside. Anyway, good Italian food and restful sleep was excellent too.
A final thought after spending more time in West Jersusalem (the modern Jewish side) is how much it reflects on my own experience at home in the US. As I walked along one of the main roads yesterday my eye caught a banner hanging from an apartment window, in English, that said: ‘Ask me about Land for Peace’ next to a picture of a Native American Chief and a map of Israel with an arrow struck in its heart. I’m not sure I totally get it but I appreciate both that ambiguity and the resonance with my own homeland. I wonder as I walk through these tense and suspicious streets, full of modern buildings, landscape architecture and a Western feel, what it takes to make my lifestyle possible.
Perhaps I’m just paranoid after my less-than-awesome entry into the country, but it seems that folks here are constantly at least subconsciously aware of the contentiousness of every part of their lives. Someone said Israelis refer to themselves as the Hebrew word for ‘Prickly pear’ with a tough outside and softer interior. I wonder if we in the US have exported our own occupation so far away we don’t even prickle with conscience.
I’ll spend the night tonight with a Guilford classmate I ran into randomly in the old city (!) before heading on back to Istanbul tomorrow morning.