19 July 2006

making history.

13 July 2006

Since my schedule has been completely destroyed by my week as a virtual refugee in Tel Aviv, I'm writing retrospectively about the events of the last week, slowly but surely, and dating things as they would have been had Hezbollah and Israel not conspired to ruin my summer. It's been mind blowing, to say the least. On Thursday, Erin and I both left work early to take a bus out to Tiberius and the Sea of Galilee for the evening. We're going to try to see all four of Israel's seas before we leave. Galilee is beautiful - we arrived and wandered down to the market by the shore, and found a man with a small boat who took us out on the water for an hour or so. Across the lake from Tiberius is the Golan Heights, which make a stunning skyline. We had dinner on the water at a Lebanese restaurant (with ice!) and did some shopping before heading back to the bus station to spend the night in Haifa. In a jewelry store, we spoke to a woman who said Hezbollah would never attack Haifa and that we had nothing to worry about by staying there.

We planned to head out early the next morning to a hot spring south of Tiberius, the Golan winery, and some waterfalls in the northern Golan. After spending an hour and a half waiting for a bus (and fending off advances from a well-meaning but creepy Canadian IDF soldier), we set off for Haifa. Josh, the IDF soldier, assured us Haifa was completely safe from the Hezbollah threats. Interesting side note - in the course of our conversation, we were talking about women in the IDF, and it turns out his commanding offiicer is a woman four years younger than him (making her all of twenty!). Most of the other officers at his training were also women. I made a note to tell Tamla about the IDF's feminism, then realized she hates the military and probably wouldn't care anyway.

Just before we left, we spoke to our professor about our plans for the weekend. Less than half an hour later, right after the bus left, we got a voicemail from Yehuda telling us to call him immediately. We called him back, and he told us not to sleep in Haifa that night and to come straight to Tel Aviv since we had a change of clothes with us. Confused, we agreed, then called the girls in Nazareth to find out if they'd been called to Tel Aviv, too. Vanessa told us that a rocket had just hit Haifa, marking the furthest south Hezbollah had ever reached. While this was shocking in and of itself, more mind blowing was how quickly things change here. Less than an hour before the attack, we were being assured by a number of people that Haifa was immune from rocket attacks. On the ride back, everyone was listening to the radio news in Hebrew, but all we could catch was Haifa and Hezbollah repeatedly. I've never wanted to speak a foreign language so badly in my life! We got to the Haifa bus station and changed for a bus to Tel Aviv, finally making it more than four hours later. In the preparations for this trip, everyone was worried about Ramallah and our time in the West Bank. I just mentioned the phrase in an email, and people told me to stay out of there. Even Jerusalem and Tel Aviv see more violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Haifa was always isolated as a peaceful mountain beach town where everyone was so proud of how well Jews and Arabs got along, and here Erin and I are, being evacuated from what everyone thought was the safest city in Israel. Everything in this country gets more and more complicated the longer I stay here.

1 comment:

dani said...

hi jessica. i'm daniela and i'm brazilian. i really hope everything is ok with you. in fact i hope everything is ok with who is being attacked and who is attacking. i try to understand both sides. it's too sad what is going on up there. and it's too damn sad you can't get along well. but i'm just a brazilian girl in a completely different world. my best wishes.