Saturday, December 30, 2006

Welcome to Lou

A Big Welcome and Mazaltov to
Who has recently made Aliyah (Woohoo!) Respect! and may the force be with you...She has also recently moved into my apartment which is now our apartment and is officially my new flatmate....
She said to me that instead of "Google"ing new people she is going to "Gila" them...I like her.

It was Snowing

Well apparently there's more than one use for the squeegee thing that you use in the kitchen to clean the countertops - you can use it to get teh snow off the windscreen of a car!
Where was I during the downfall? Inside my favourite place - work of course - I was on call yet again...the taxi requested 150 shek! to take me home...instead a sweet lady gave me a tramp home in her 4WD...much better!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Queues, Cartography, Language Barriers and British (NOT ENGLISH!) arrogance.

I am standing line what looks nothing like a line, in order to get into a bus headed towards Ranana in order to light Chanukah candles. I am being screamed at by a randomite Israeli woman because she is claiming that I am pushing her “Can’t you see the line?” she says in Hebrew amongst other things, I felt like saying “No I can’t see the line, this looks nothing like a line, this is so far from a line that it might as well be a circle, but I really truly do not feel the necessity to argue, because I know that we will all get on the bus, I can see there is room and if I am gonna pick a fight over this, then really, I will have to start pushing people, and I just can’t do that”.

Then I started thinking about Israeli attitudes to lines and queues and the general habit of pushing in and claiming your space and how this might translate to larger concepts. If this is what the common Israeli considers a well ordered queue then what do they consider a well ordered border?

In my studies of Israeli history, I know that I can really blame the British for the current borders of Israel, they just seemed to have some need to draw these straight lines throughout Africa and divide land on maps using a ruler. While this is all well and good, when looking at a modern day map of the west bank, you will notice that Israeli Arab, Palestinian and Jewish villages are all dotted in between each other, and the concept of drawing a straight line, wall or border in the area is near impossible. Borders are now looking more and more like squiggles…since we are side by side already. What is stopping this co-existence from being a peaceful reality?

My thoughts jump to populations that we do peacefully co-exist with such as Christians. I am currently going through a Christian phase. I am really fascinated, about how this religion spread so far without internet, when if you look down at the nitty gritty it makes not a lot of sense (to me anyway, looking from a Jewish perspective). Whilst in our past we have crusades, lack of acknowledgement and apologies – Today Christians live side by side with Jews in Israel. They can observe their festivals, have access to all their holy sites which we can see as well and I have. The Jerusalem Municipality in conjunction with JNF gave out free Christmas trees. There is a Christian edition of the Jeruslaem Post and I generally get the feeling that they do whatever they want and we do whatever we want, we peacefully co-exist.

A few weeks ago I visited the Monastery of the Cross. It is built on the site where the tree that was used to make Jesus’s cross grew. The story behind this special tree involves Lot planting a tree as an act of repentance after sleeping with his daughters it was believed if the tree grew he would be forgiven. Here is a story based on people who are in my heritage as well, but where is the truth? Here I am standing in this old building looking at a piece of ground where some tree used to grow, which now has these beautiful mosaics and building surrounding it and it means something to someone – so what is really important out of all of this?
I feel like the common ground here, is we both believe in something, that is guiding our lives and this gives us common respect for each other. I might believe that my path is the correct one, but here we are, passionate people, creating communities, celebrating life and that is what is important…as much as they might be mutually exclusive, the are interconnected because we are side by side, doing it together and it makes me happy to see that this is in fact possible.

Language Barriers
Then I start thinking about the borders between people. In Australia, you can not treat a patient in the hospital unless they understand what exact treatment they are receiving. There must be a translator present. In the hospital here, it is my fault if I do not speak their language. When previously musing about being arrogant because I expected signs in Spain to be in English, I translate that to my experiences in the hospital. I am proud that I have picked up words in Russian and Arabic, in order to treat people. Now all I need is Persian, Kurdish and Yiddish. The thing about language is it opens up an entire culture.
A friend of mine was commenting to me how her new parents in law, laugh at the language that her new husband and her have created between Hebrew and English. At first he spoke to English now they speak Hebrish. It’s about meeting half way, it’s about putting in an effort.
When I mentioned that in the hospital most Israel-Arabs understand Hebrew, but most Israeli’s do not speak Arabic, and maybe we should learn it more since it is a national language I was put in my place at the Friday night dinner table and the argument was purely based on numbers…there are more Jews than Arabs, so who cares that it’s a national language..they have to deal, I think perhaps the idea being communicated is “If they treat me badly, why should I have to put in the effort to understand who they are”.
At first I did not put in the effort to learn the words I needed in the different languages and thought to myself, look, they have to learn the Hebrew, but then I slowly came around because, it’s me that wants to communicate the message, so it’s my responsibility to communicate it effectively.
At the end of the day, I think that if there has to be an effort on both sides to communicate, but we need to create a language of our own so there is some common ground between us, if we can not speak, if the lines of communication are not open, then a relationship has no hope.

British Arrogance
I was recently informed by an English man that I should never call him British because it would be like calling me Australasian and how would I like that?…Who cares? Well he does. He cares so much about being English that he can’t sit through one conversation about Australia. He can not put in any effort to learn anyone’ else’s language and I pity him, because the common thread through all of this is arrogance. If you think that you are better than someone else, if you think that you know better, if you think you deserve to be treated in a certain way and forget the rest, then there really is no point in interacting with larger society.

So my friends…don’t sweat the small stuff…choose your fights carefully…if “land is the only thing worth fighting for” (Gerald O ‘Hara – Gone With the Wind) then I think someone needs to get off their moral high horse and onto the ground and experience what everyone else is experiencing until they see that perhaps they are not so special, perhaps we are all equal. If you want to peacefully co-exist with someone then you need to put in the effort to break down the barriers, pay attention to your neighbor and create your own language between yourselves. I can see that Israel as a country is capable of this and this is what makes me proud to live here, but sometimes I wish that individuals who reside inside heeded this message.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Ain’t Gonna Work on Saturday

As I walked the halls of my hospital last Friday night, I have flashbacks of Bnei camp singing a good old propaganda song …Ain’t Gonna Work on Saturday…Ain’t Gonna work on Saturday…Double Double Triple Pay…etc
I guess I never listened well enough or perhaps the propaganda failed or I should have stood firmer ground, but nevertheless here I am, all clad up with my stethoscope hovering over a poor soul in ICU and I’m thinking to myself, I can’t get this stupid, stupid song out of my head.
It’s just not a normal feeling to be working on Shabbat…or am I feeling slightly guilty that I am getting driven around by an Arab taxi driver so I am can be here? Or because I have to ask one of the Arab ‘writers’ to sign that I have seen a patient? What would we do without these Arabs?
The daughter of one of my patients informs me that her Nephew is one of these ‘writers’ he is going to be a Dr, he has been accepted by every medical school in Israel and he just has to choose…..I guess that’s a rise in status from ‘Katvan to Rofeh’ (writer to Doctor).
On my way home, the Arab driver says to me ‘You’re from Australia….Oh, I tell you, it doesn’t matter where you are from…we are all human beings’.
In contrast to my ride home yesterday after being on call yet again:
The taxi driver put on the metre, I was falling asleep and not paying attention to where he was going, suddenly I realised he was going all the way around and about Jerusalem and so I opened my mouth to complain and he nearly has a fit and says “You don’t live here, you don’t know the streets, this is the way to go, you think I am a thief, here I will take you home for free, but you need to learn, you don’t live here” I tried to argue, I tried to say this is my home too….but he was adamant that I need to learn.
Can I complain about my job? Even if come February it may no longer exist and so I will probably look back on working on Saturdays and being on call 4 days in a row as a blessing…How do positions just suddenly no longer exist because someone somewhere decided..?
Yeah I’m having one of those crises again where I don’t know what I’m doing, my independence is being threatened and I am waiting for someone to tell me what to do…even though I know that person is me…

Meanwhile there are what appear to be Christmas lights on Emek and Doughnuts in the window of Tal Bagels. Seasons are changing and it feels like I am waiting for something to happen…yet on so many levels it feels like something already did.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I passed my test. All those people on the street who have taken to stopping me and commenting about how I run people over can stop now.