A Truely Motley Crew

I am well aware of the fact that I have been slacking over here lately. Part of it is that I've had too much to say and can't find the ambition to put it down in an organized way. Part of it is that I've actually been really busy with various things. Part of it is sheer slacking brought on by inherent laziness.

So, over the past three weeks or so I've had a few interesting experiences that deserve being written about. First and of least political importance, the hubby and I have cooked several new and delicious things. I have photos of these at home and will post about them this week. Second, I led my 3rd delegation of Americans through the organization Global Exchange around the West Bank and '48 (Israel). Third, I had the pleasure of my first "tweetup" in Jerusalem with four very different people. For today, I want to write about the tweetup and deal with the other two topics later this week.

This past Friday I met up with Glenn, israelimom and dad, and yeshivaguy in a West Jerusalem coffeshop creatively called, "Coffee Shop". Heh... When I first walked in with Glenn (who I met in East Jerusalem and shared a cab over with), Israelimom and I shared a hug and kisses. When I sat down, I was reminded that in this part of this land people walk around casually with M-16s precariously slung around their bodies and no one around them flintches. I am continually suprised by this when I cross the Green Line. It's so weird to me. The guy in the cafe actually had an attachment for firing tear gas on his gun. Yes, I notice these things.

But I digress... Glenn, Israelimom, her husband, and I talked for awhile about different things. I really like them all. I have been talking to Israelimom since just after I joined Twitter in late-May-ish, so it was great to meet her. She has a warm feeling about her and a relaxing energy. Her heart is in the right place, and part of me really wishes more people like her stood up and did something about what they think should happen.

After about half an hour yeshivaguy showed up. I must admit, when I first saw him, I was prejudice. I expected someone politcally extreme. This guy dresses in a long black coat, black slacks, white shirt, black kippa under a big black hat. He was sans "keys to Heaven" and beard, but otherwise fully decked out. You can imagine what I may have thought. He proved me wrong. He's a young American studying here and planning to leave when he's done. He, and many of the people he studies with, are basically apolitical, but generally see the Israeli state and the methods that have been used to found and maintain it contrary to the teachings of the Torah. He is smart, witty, and easy to be with.

To be honest, he reminded me of this. I'm not saying that yeshivaguy agrees with these people, as he seems simply non-political (as oppossed to anti-Zionist), but the article came to my mind, connected by the thread of "Orthodox Jews who would be fine living in a joint-state situation". The article is in Arabic, but basically this group is called Natori Karta and they are against the Zionist government. After Hamas was elected, they sent a delegation to the PLC to show their support. They were welcomed by Aziz Dweik. Also in this category would be the Samaritan Jews who live in Nablus. From what I understand, they hold Palestinian IDs and they have a seat in the Palestinian Parliament.

The thing that struck me about the meeting is was how much time was spent talking about what Ramallah is like, if it is safe here, what people are like, how religious they are, etc. I know this is curiousity speaking, but it's shocking to me how little Israelis know about how Palestinians actually live. I know there is no way for them to know, as their own government makes it illegal for them to come here.

After spending about two and half hours with this ecclectic bunch, I went back to Ramallah and told Ash all about it. He couldn't believe I sat with an orthodox Jew, but kept saying how much he wished he could have been there. The whole time I was sitting with these folks I felt the same: I wish he could have been there. It's not that he didn't want to. It's not that his own government or people tell him he can't. It's not even that it's impossible. But it would be a big risk, bigger than he's willing to take to meet some interesting people. Collective punishment is a powerful thing. And in the end, for me, it's all about the power imbalance and finding the right people who have both the power and the will. Which, tomorrow, will lead into my second post of the week...the Global Exchange trip.

UPDATE: For another take on this tweetup, read Israelimom's version here.


  1. I thought abt this over,and over then said fuck it I have met israelimom on twitter too,she has made every effort to reach out to me,and i believe she really is sincere, She will talk openly with me,where other jews who agree with me a 100% are afraid to because they dont want the wrath of other jews! Think abt that Jews are scared of jews. I dont sell them out because i look at them like they where gays. I dont agree with outing any jew even though i think they are hurting the cause. Then i think to myself. what is wrong with "some" of these jews. Then it came to me "a lot" of jews are all missing one key element Empathy i mean to be "really" empathic to the suffering of the palestinians. I would think The first thing all the jews at that table should have felt was a deep guilt that the only person who was not at the Table was ASH For whatever reason he did not show was not of his making. We created this mess, Did any of our friendly liberal, apolitical Jews have any question to ask U Sarah ? Did anyone say Oh its too bad ASH couldnt make it!Did they even care? they showed up they risked fucking nothing ,but hey they can tell their kids they worked for peace . How fucking Stoic of them! I would have felt guilty seeing you there without ur husband in his fucking land,a land where Israeli funded Hamas ,because the Plo was to secular,and was willing to make peace. A land that israeli plays games of ,Divide and Conquer at will . with only one goal to make all palestinian paranoid . empathic?Us jews?No we are entitled safety where ever we roam.Im sorry every jew you met with Sarah be it apolitical or liberal,or whatever Should enjoy this safety ,because if they dont do something now .No one in the world will have empathy for them when terrorism hits israel and nowhere is safe

  2. Jlp, as we talked about before, you did say that quite angrily. I can feel your frustration. ;)

    The actual points you make are 100% spot on, though. Thanks for having the courage to share them!

  3. Jlp, just read your comment. Actually, as I mentioned in my blog post about the event, Ash was the main thing on our minds as we drove away from there.

    I think you assume too much about me and my thoughts. Kinda patronizing, even not regarding the strong language... I actually have a lot of empathy for the plight of the Palestinians. Sad that you think no one would have empathy for terror victims - regardless of which side their on. I guess it's another assumption on your part though - that you can speak for the entire world...

    BTW, who are you on Twitter?

  4. I was the "American working in the West Bank person" describe within this blog. I am not Jewish, or religious for that matter. I have always gravitated to "lost" causes meaning trying to use my skills in information technology to benefit a country and the people within that country. I understood why Sarah's husband was not there, but still wondered whether they could come to East Jerusalem a few days later to meet with me not remembering that only Sarah is really free to move around at this point.

    As an aside, as I told my son recently, ad hominem attacks only sully the argument which you are trying to make. You cannot have a discussion with someone if you are attacking them at the same time. Our gathering was not an attempt to solve the problems of Palestine, but I for one, certainly left knowing a great deal more than before I arrived.

    I have worked in war torn countries before and seem to specialise in present and post war conflict resolution -- in that the work I do benefits the stabilization of the country. I am hoping that my work here in the West Bank makes a difference. If it doesn't it is not the fault of Americans, or Israelis, rather it will be the Palestinian Ministry of Health and its staff. I pray that it does work and becomes the showcase item which promotes the innate ability of Palestinians to manage that which they DO control. Anyway, uncertain whether this adds fire to the conversation or water. What I do know is that it was a fun gathering.