Sitting next to me on the bus back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem was the gentle elder whom I met in the line to board Bus 480 in the Jerusalem Central Bus Station.
While most people pushed to mount the steep steps of the bus first, a small woman, clutching a large bulging bag in each fist, waited her turn patiently. When I bowed to indicate that she enter before me, she insisted, “You got here first, I saw you.” And I knew exactly next to whom I would plant my self, jacket, Brookstone backpack, and stuff-filled Whole Foods eco-friendly bag.
An old message: Jews, get out of Iraq
In the habit of strangers who meet on a journey, we bonded quickly, and I learned that my companion had arrived in Israel as a refuge child from her native Iraq. “They drove out the Jews, and we left in haste.” And, we segued into exchanging the outlines of our lives during the 45-minute road trip.
As our bus neared the Tel Aviv Bus Station, police blockades along the major arteries were causing delay, confusion, irritation, and rumor-mongering among the passengers. Everyone's dreaded unasked question: Were the blockades on account of a “suspicious object” (a possible terrorist bomb planted in an abandoned container found nearby)?
Within minutes, in a scene reminiscent of Jean-Luc Godard's opening frames of Week End, spaghetti-like streams of stalled vehicles, their passengers-turned-pedestrians took to the highway. Here, helicopters droned overhead along the barricades where protesters, holding placards — UNDER FIRE IN SDEROT, chanted, “We want a military solution! We want the army to do what's right and to fight the enemy!"
An old message: Jews, get out of Israel
Sderot is the southern Israeli town where, during the past seven years more than 8,000 qassam rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip have been pouring on schools, homes, streets — everywhere. Here, where 33% of the children suffer from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), civilians and even schoolchildren act as medics, attending to injured family, friends, pets, animals — anyone.
The protesters came from Sderot to Tel Aviv to demand that the Israeli army kill, besides the terrorists who are missile launchers, Gaza's political leaders who meet every Saturday afternoon to decide where and when to terrorize Jews, then order the missile launchers to fire and to kill.
Bridging hemispheres, cultures, eons: tips —
- Choose, if possible, a bus seat companion who is gentle and thoughtful.
- Pay attention that Iraq/Babylonia drove out its Jews, who had been living there more than 2,500 years since their earliest expulsions from their native Land of Israel.
- Pay attention that Iraq’s cousins in Gaza and elsewhere are doing their best to drive out the Jews from the State of Israel.
- Therefore, choose life! !וּבָחַרְתָּ, בַּחַיִּים
I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life, that you might live, you and your seed. (Deuteronomy 30:19)
הַעִדֹתִי בָכֶם הַיּוֹם, אֶת-הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת-הָאָרֶץ הַחַיִּים וְהַמָּוֶת נָתַתִּי לְפָנֶיךָ, הַבְּרָכָה וְהַקְּלָלָה; וּבָחַרְתָּ, בַּחַיִּים לְמַעַן תִּחְיֶה, אַתָּה וְזַרְעֶךָ — דברים ל:יט.