Olives for Hope

If the world is ever going to come to peace,
humanity can no longer be recognized 
on a case by case basis.


"There are some things you can't deny" - M.Etheridge

Posted on November 2, 2010 at 9:58 PM

As the official olive picking program comes to an end, I am left to figure out what to do with myself for a couple of days before returning home. Things just were not coming together for me – missed opportunities,voicemail tag, frustration. A day when my best intentions bear no fruit. An unexpected invitation to come back north. Can I give myself permission for a short holiday before going home? But I am supposed to be doing – right? Oye– mental gymnastics are tiring and I am taking myself way to seriously. So, OK– I head north.


As I prepare to go, it is a day full of last minute errands.Was lost in Bethlehem for a shortwhile – called a friend who pointed me in the right direction – just 15 minutes that way (uphill). Now I am back “home” and have 1 hour to pack before the taxi arrives. The driver is an Israeli Palestinian who can move between both worlds. We have to go through the check point and want to avoid any hassles.The driver preps me with my story – I am a tourist with a group from Beer Sheva. We have gone to Herodian and I started to feel ill. The taxi was called to take me to the hotel in Jerusalem. While I worry about being convincing, the driver hangs a Star of David from his mirror and starts to play some Hebrew music. As we approach the checkpoint, we see that the cars ahead of us are searched. The driver puts on sunglasses to cover his most “Arab” feature. As we enter the checkpoint he says “Shalom” to the guard and we are waived through. Don’t these soldiers realize that a game is being played? Or, is that the point – that they get to write the rules of the game?


I finally get through the bus terminal with ticket in hand,bags scanned, pick up purse before anyone notices the Arabic book falling out. Quick call to Hanna – I am on my way – on the bus – off we go. I regret that my camera is packed – there is a young (they are all young) female soldier with her M-16 over one shoulder and her Hello Kitty backpack over the other. The radio is playing “Baby it’s all right – it’s gonna be all right now”.


About a 2.5 hour ride to near Tiberius. I don’t hear the phone ring (twice). I didn’t realize the bus was about 15 minutes late. Hanna was worried that a bomb had blown up the bus…. This is not a parent’s carefully constructed paranoia, it is not a joke, it is real fear. How do you apologize for that?


The next day  while Hanna goes to class, I hang out with the mall rats. I am watching the people around me. The only thing that differentiates this from a typical American mall is the Hebrew signs. Well, that and the cursory search of the car as we entered and the more thorough search of my bag as I went into the mall.


What happens to a person’s soul with all these constant cues to be afraid? – to surrender your ‘self’,  to be less of the human you were put here to be? This is the first time I feel it too. Before, I have felt the fear of accusation, of humiliation, of being the “other”. Aren’t these twin fears,locked in an insane dance?


Categories: Olive Harvest 2010