Thursday, April 5, 2007

This country is crazy...

My brother and his wife were in the country for the past week, and they're going back to the states tonight. So, I, along with my other brother and his wife met them for dinner in a nice asian restaurant for a goodbye meal. Anyway, when we finished, I decided to walk back to my neighborhood via cutting through town and up through the back streets. As I was walking, I noticed that King George street on the way to town was closed off. I had my iPod on loud, so I couldn't hear anything, but as I walked, I noticed that while I was headed in one direction, everybody else was headed in the opposite direction. Nevertheless, I continued walking. I decided to cut down Hillel street, which on one of the alleyways connecting it to the next street has a music store. I found the store shut down, so I continued on to Ben Yehuda street. As I approached there, I noticed more than the average crowd of people, along with security guards and barriers. As I tried to pass through, I was stopped by one of them.
"Yesh lecha neshek?" He asked me (for those of you who speak even worse ivrit than I, that means "do you have a gun?"). I answered him no, and then asked him what was going on. He told me it was a hafgana (demonstartion). When I asked for what, he shrugged and told me that he wasn't quite sure himself. So, I went on through the barrier onto Ben Yehuda, and the crowds got larger and larger, and more packed. As I'm walking, I'm noticing that people are dancing in tight circles, surrounding teenagers with guitars and bongos.
I'm trying to squeeze through the throngs of people, and there are tons of them. Men , women, boys, girls. Boys and girls. Boys and boys. I still have no idea what's going on, and I have my iPod on the loudest it can go. I can barely move anywhere, and just when I happen to break free into a pocket of wide open space, all of a sudden this gaggle of girls opens up right in front of me, dancing, singing, waving israeli flags, the whole deal. One of them shouts something at me. I take off my headphones to hear her better, and she screams that I should do something. When I ask her what's happening, she tells me that it's a demonstartion against Ehud Olmert. "For what?" I ask, "what'd he do?" She stops and looks at me. "Nothing."
"So, what are you demonsrating about?" She rolls her eyes and as if it's the most obvious thing, tells me that it's so that he shouldn't do anything. Then, the group turns back into the crowd.
I continue my trek through the masses. I'm struck by the similarities between myself and trout swimming upstream to spawn. Except I'm not trying to spawn; I'm trying to reach my apartment because I really, really, need the john.
At one point, this woman stops me and asked me if I've gotten involved. When I tell her no, she grabs my sleeve, and insists I have to take a stand for all jewry. That there's no such thing as passivity, and that if I do nothing, I do harm. I gently try to move on, while removing my coat sleeve but she clutches it and starts screeching about making a point, that if I don'y align with them, I'm with the enemy. She doesn't answer me when I ask her to define the enemy, and finally lets go of me to move onto the next prospective proselyte.
Right now, I'm taking refuge in the iternet cafe on Jaffo. It sounds nuts out there.
And I still need the john.
Originally posted Monday, 6 February 2006

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