So as you probably know, Israel is unilaterally pulling out of the Gaza Strip. The policy of disengagement–which has been a huge point of contention in Israeli politics–is being carried out this week. There have been huge protests in opposition to the pullout, and equally large rallies to support it. Analysts are warning of the potential for civil war if the pullout gets violent.
The funny thing is, if you were here, you wouldn’t even know it.
Maybe it’s because the Israeli Internet system is really, really, ridiculously sketchy. Maybe it’s because we’re all wrapped up in intensive Hebrew. But at the end of the day, the whole country could descend into chaos and war, and none of us would have a clue. Life in Jerusalem on Disengagement Day was, by all accounts, totally mundane. I woke up, grabbed a coffee, and went to class. Did some homework. Went to the gym. Had to read the news online to even remember that this was, in fact, a day on which history was being made. Huh. Shouldn’t history be a little less anti-climactic?
Reading the American newspapers makes it feel even more surreal; from the articles, you’d think that the whole country is on the brink of widespread unrest. Pictures of settlers lighting fires in Gaza and reports of violence from the field evoked a sense of danger, but when I walked outside, it was business as usual. No one seemed afraid, or even anxious. Either people here don’t wear their emotions on their sleeves, or they’ve developed a thick enough skin that political tumult just doesn’t faze them.
Nonetheless, most of the international students have decided to avoid crowds (in case Hamas and Islamic Jihad wind up taking the path that we fear most: carrying out suicide bombings to make it look like they’re driving Israel out of Gaza), and have been a bit more cautious this week. Guess this means I shouldn’t schlep down to the Western Wall with my camera in search of some excitement and turbulence…sigh.
On a totally different note, I know it took me a while to update this. Unfortunately, Internet access here is really hard to get, and Bezeq, the company that basically monopolizes communications technology here, has decided that it hates me. So, of course, this will lead to further development of my Hebrew skills: I’ll buy you falafel if you let me use your Internet.