Presidential Visit

Last week, El Presidente Bush came into down. Boy was it nuts. Downtown streets were closed and most of the hotels in town were booked. I constantly heard the sound of helicopers humming throughout the day and a surveillance blimp hovered over the city. While our neck of the woods didn’t feel Bush’s presence as much, we went out of our way to avoid the center of town. We were planning to leave Jerusalem for the weekend, but decided that with all of the road closings were taking place, we would stay put. You would think I would be used to this since I live in Israel. But this level of security was unprecedented, and while I understand the need for it, it felt oppressive at times.

Meanwhile international attention turned toward our backwater town and the politicos and media discussed our fate at length. It’s amazing that even as Israel is a sovereign state, so many people get to meddle in its politics. Well that’s been like that forever hasn’t it? I didn’t notice it as much in the U.S. for the obvious reason that I was living in the U.S., the de facto world superpower that regularly intervenes in this part of the region. But you certainly get a different dimension of the political situation when you live in the place under discussion. It’s no longer a distant entity, but your home. So it feels little weird and even ridiculous that people in the international realm are discussing the fate of your home. 

Was all of last week’s fuss worth it? I hope so. However, I am not so sure that Bush is going to be able to check ‘making peace and creating a Palestinian state’ off his to do list before he leaves office as he ambitiously claims.  As his predecessor must have come to realize, this region of the world is soooo complicated. Will the right-wing on both sides of the fence offer concessions? Will the Palestinians recognize the existence of the Jewish state? Will the settlements stop expanding? There are questions that I wish I could answer yes to, but do not feel enough conviction to do so. (Sigh) The proof will be in actions actually taken rather than lofty speeches made.

Other than that, life here continues as usual. At ICCI, I’m working on a brief article about a Al-Qasemi, a college that educates Muslims to be teachers as well as agents of change. I’ve also been finishing up some interviews with past participants in Face to Face/Faith to Faith, an interreligious dialogue group geared toward high school age students and which takes place in numerous countries. (ICCI is the Jerusalem partner with Seeking Common Ground and the Auburn Theological Seminary in the Face to Face / Faith to Faith program.) The interviews help the organization evaluate the effectiveness of the program and learn about what it can improve in the future.

Tomorrow is Biblical grammar day in my Chumash. Yes indeed! So I better get to bed so my brain can process properly grammatical concepts.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend oh you lousy Americans (I am still so jealous that you have a Sunday!)

–RZ 

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