Politics, current events, and my boring life
For the past three weeks I have been in Jerusalem. I am here a student of the university of Haifa, relocated to Jerusalem because somebody shot rockets at Haifa.
The Hebrew University in Jerusalem is a digital dump. The campus is stunningly beautiful but Internet access for students is very sporadic, computer labs are badly equipped, and the most reliable Internet connection around is the (sporadic and slow) wireless access in Cafe Aroma (which has excellent sandwiches).
The student dorms are guarded by men with guns, big guns. Entry to the university campus, the dorms areas, and Cafe Aroma requires having one's bag searched. The university also employs metal detectors, as do shopping malls.
Not even years of being the targets for Arab rockets convince the Jews that the Arabs just want peace, and Israelis continue to believe that the Arabs want to kill people.
Jerusalem is all-in-all a sad place. The Bible says that one should work for six days and rest for one. The religious parts of Jerusalem fall asleep Thursday afternoon and rest until Sunday. The more fundamentalist the followers of a religion, it seems, the less do they follow the actual holy scripture. This is true for lazy ultra-orthodox Jews, for suicidal murdering Muslims, and for Christians who want the Jews to turn the other cheek.
A few weeks ago, during the finale of of Hizbullah's war against Israel, an American Christian priest or minister, clearly motivated by the apparent clarity of G-d's message (note that I do not remember of which of the thousands Christian denominations that exist in the US alone he was a part of), reminded the Jews that they are too violent.
Now, I admire Christianity for some of its principles. Turning the other cheek is a Christian principle that requires a lot of faith to be followed. I admire any Christian who actually has enough faith to remain pacifist even when attacked. But believing that other people should turn the other cheek does not require faith at all.
Faith is the difficult item, of course.
For a Christian, it requires faith to be an example for others. To ask other people to be the example does not require faith.
For a Muslim, believing what the Quran says about Moses' people and the holy land requires faith. Few Muslims can muster enough faith. (In fact it seems to be tremendously difficult for many to even resist the temptation to fight the Quran on that matter.)
Sadly, there is some racism here. Jewish businesses advertise with the fact that they only hire Jews. They advertise in a magazine for the Anglo (English-speaking) community. I avoid these businesses. Why that behaviour is apparently appreciated among the Anglos I do not know. I am ashamed. I usually feel that the English-speaking world is the one closest to the ideal of a colour-blind society. It was the British Empire that ended slavery in the world, it was the British Empire that first introduced the idea of a colour-blind legal system (in the context of a state where several races co-existed), it was the United States that introduced the idea that all men are created equal; I feel extremely sad that the Anglo community here is not at the fore-front of promoting a society without racism. (I must add that the legal system here is colour-blind. It is society that is not.)
But I myself have found that I do not feel secure when I am not surrounded by Jews. In fact, I am convinced that even those who believe that Israel is evil and that the Arabs are the most peaceful people on earth will stay as close to the evil Jews and their guns as possible here.
Don't get me wrong, I have met many Arabs here and they all seem very nice people. I talked to them (most speak some Hebrew but not always English), I eat in their shops, I like them. But can I trust them?
Most Israeli Arabs support Israel. The vast majority are peaceful. Very few are violent. But I still feel more secure among Jews.
Jerusalem is much slower than Dublin.
I am never bored in Dublin, I am extremely bored very often here. Shabbat in Dublin is fun, shabbat here is a sad experience. I spent Saturdays doing absolutely nothing. I am supposed to just rest.
I get up at 6 AM because I want to make it into the university before 7. I find it too hot here at all times. I am not made for the desert. I miss Ireland.
But I like French Hill. French Hill is a Jerusalem district next to the university. The population of French Hill is, apparently, 70% Jewish, 30% Arabs. French Hill is Jerusalem. Everybody knows everyone there. I can sit outside a kosher restaurant for hours, eating and drinking and watching people pass. And the odd conversation will start. Everybody knows everyone here. Most people on the street speak Hebrew, English and/or Yiddish. Conversation is an adventure, and one receives in exchange what I think is a good example of the real Jerusalem.
Thanks to my good friend from Denmark who introduced me to the culture of French Hill! You know who you are.
Tomorrow I am off to Haifa.