Tales from the field

1.  Adventures in public transportation and more hospitality.  Yesterday I made my first actual data collection trip out of Tel Aviv.  I’ve left the city in the month I’ve been here, of course, but this time it was for an interview.  I was on my way from Tel Aviv to Kibbutz Ma’abarot, a small settlement not too far away:

In fact, the distance between the two places was under 50km – Google maps suggested that driving might take about 40 minutes, give or take.  I, however, was on public transportation.  Public transportation that went through several towns and many stops – on a Thursday afternoon at that (think Friday afternoon traffic in the USA).  Thus, the 40-minute drive, and scheduled one-hour bus ride, turned into two-and-a-half hours of basically sitting in traffic.  Needless to say, I was late for my interview, not to mention totally frazzled by the time I got off the bus.

But I’m in Israel.  So when I got to the house of the person I was interviewing, instead of having to wait because they were serving dinner – I was told not to worry about the lateness, and invited to sit down, make myself at home, and eat whatever I wanted…and after that I had a really nice, thoughtful discussion with this person, and I learned a lot.

Ironically the driver on the bus back to Tel Aviv was the same one who had driven me up to the Kibbutz.  So we had a nice little conversation on the way back about traffic.  I got home at about 11pm, 8 hours after I left my house…

2.  There’s always something.  This morning my roommate and I took the train to Rechovot, a nearby city (where I was born) and host to this year’s International Women’s Film Festival.  We went to see Budrus, a film about a Palestinian village of the same name and its non-violent resistance to the building of the Separation Barrier in its olive groves.

The film was intense – full of scenes showing clashes between the Israeli Border Patrol and the men, women, and children of Budrus.  But it really brought home the power of action, once again reminding me that there is much that can be done aside from writing words.  I guess it is time to get back into deeds…

The film screening was followed by a discussion with the Palestinian and Israeli producers, as well as two other figures from the peace and activism camp – one Israeli, one Palestinian…and it was interrupted by an audience member who stood up and told us all we were stupid for thinking the Arabs won’t conquer Rechovot as soon as they get Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.  He was escorted from the movie theater, but not before he yelled at several audience members (mostly women), whose response to his tirade was to clap their hands, slowly but steadily, to drown out the words coming from his mouth.

This was the first time in a long time that I’ve been so visually confronted with the level of emotion that The Conflict raises in this little corner of the world, but such scenes are common here.  Just another Friday morning, I guess…

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