1) When I was 17 I worked on a Kibbutz for a month. I worked in the onion factory. In the metal factory. Garbage duty. Street cleaning. A fishery---where for what seems like hours you stand knee deep in mud, hauling in nets, arms burning. Etc. Etc.
All in all 9 or 10 different jobs.
Why so many jobs?
Well, they kept reassigning me because, basically, I was incompetent.
On the Kibbutz there was a beautiful young girl whose name was Revital. She was interested in me.
But then, when it came to girls I was also, basically, incompetent.
2) When I was 17, also, I trudged up Masada in darkness with other members of a Teen Tour. Kids from all over America.
When we got to the top we watched the sun rise. And "oooooo"'d and "aaaaaaa"'d.
Damn, it was good to be young and Jewish!
Three years ago I went back up to the top in a cable car. In the middle of the day. And I went around taking pictures of crows with yellow beaks.
Then we stopped at the dead sea. Covered ourselves in mud. Floated around. "oooooo"'d and "aaaaaaa"'d. But, then, in the changing rooms, after showering, I found that someone had made off with my shoes...
Back in Jerusalem that evening I bought a new pair in a mall that could have been anywhere in the world...
3) On my most recent trip to Israel we took a city tour of Jerusalem. (The kind of tour where at the end they take you to a special certified trustworthy store where you can buy-quality trinkets that you’ve seen everywhere else for $2 or $3 for $10 to $15.) Part of it was on bus, part of it on foot.
Suddenly three or four policeman pushed past us with a man between them. They were beating him as they went and his head was bleeding.
Our tour guide who’d been grumpy all morning looked quite happy now and when someone, a lady from Kansas I think, asked what was happening he said
“O, they’re just dealing with some terrorist.”
“But how do you know he’s a terrorist?” she asked.
“If they have him,” he answered, with completely certainty. “Then he must be a terrorist.”
4) In Jerusalem, to get to the Western Wall, the Wailing Wall, the holiest place in the Jewish World, you can go down, if you want, through the Arab Market.
Everyone there tries to get you into their store to drink tea with them. “Friendship only,” they say. “Friendship only.”
One man, in the back of his store, started to talk to us about sex. Westerners are much more easy-going about sex, he said. If you even mention sex to young Arab men, he said, they will not be able to control themselves. They will have to rush to be alone and relieve themselves--
“They will stand up,” he said, demonstrating quite energetically with his hands.
“They will stand up," he said, (again, his hands) "and they will throw.”
And as he said "throw" his whole body thrust forward
in the back of his store,
over our friendship tea.
“It’s better with a woman,” he said, as we were leaving.
“You get something from a woman’s body,” he said.
“You get something from her.”
And so we went down to the wailing wall.
Past the teenage soldiers with their guns.
I went to the left.
My wife to the right.