Last Friday, my friends and I decided that we needed a break from the monotony of all Hebrew, all the time. “Hmmmm,” said my friend Chad, eyeing the Hyatt Regency hotel that sits but a few feet from our dorm. “Let’s crash the pool at the Hyatt.”
I can’t post what I said in response, but if you’ve seen “Team America,” you can probably guess what it was.
So off we went, in search of a pool at a luxury hotel that we’ll probably never actually stay in. We walk in, and…woah. Suddenly, we all have the same realization: all the settlers who were removed from Gaza are being temporarily housed in hotels throughout Israel. Including five-star establishments such as the Hyatt.
Now, logistically, this makes complete sense. Displaced people have to be put somewhere before they’re re-settled in a new locale. But a bunch of settlers staying at the Hyatt–indefinitely, since the resettlements in the Negev are barely even breaking ground–struck me as a little odd. Seeing the Orthodox Zionists, whose lives run counter to the secular, luxurious atmosphere of the Hyatt, was a huge contrast. They eyed us with a great deal of suspicion, and I’m sure we did the same to them. When a group of obviously secluar, Western young adults, clad in bathing suits and carrying iPods, breezes into a group of intensely religious and, at times, fanatically nationalistic, settlers, the tension is almost palpable.
Avoiding eye contact and knowing that the Orthodox don’t allow mixed-gender swimming, we beelined for the pool. Once there, we stayed all afternoon, and waited until it was almost sundown (and the start of Shabbat) to leave. Granted, it wasn’t too hard to stick around a pool lined with palm trees on a gorgeous, sunny day. But nonetheless, I would’ve felt a little weird to waltz back through a lobby packed to the hilt with people who–let’s be honest–probably would have big issues with both me and my politics.
Chad wants to make the Hyatt pool his official Yom Shishi (Friday) hangout, and I’m game–but I’m definitely going to try to blend in better next time.