Welcome to The New Chainik Hocker. I am your host, the eponymous Chainik Hocker, here to share news, reviews, pretty pictures, and silly opinions with you. Contact me at chainik DOT hocker AT gmail DOT com

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Chainik Hocker visits Israel.

I went to Israel for the first time a few weeks ago. I went for two weeks, staying with my grandparents in Pisgat Ze’ev, a Jerusalem suburb. Here is part of what I wrote for a forum I belong to.

1) Palestinians live worse than Mexicans in Mexico. It's one thing to hear about the plight of the Palestinians, it's another to actually see- and smell- the crushing hopeless poverty these people actually live in.

2) Israeli cops and soldiers act towards the Palestinians like the LAPD treats blacks in Spike Lee movies. They get stopped randomly and are made to show their ID. They get followed around in malls by machine gun toting teenagers in uniform. When they get on a bus, all the soldiers and cops turn around, stop talking into their cell phones, and simply watch them till they get off.

3) When the sandal was on the other foot, the Palestinians did not act better. I went to my family's plot in the cemetery on the Mount of Olives (Har Hazeitim). My mother's family has been buried there since my great great etc. grandfather in the 1720's.

Only some of those graves are intact. Between 1948 and 1967, the Old City of Jerusalem was under Arab (specifically Jordanian) control. During that period the Palestinians, among other outrages, destroyed much of the cemetery on Har Hazeitim, uprooting headstones, digging up bodies, and scattering bones.

After the Six Day War, which liberated the Old City, they had to rebury the remains in a mass grave- they couldn't be identified. They also built a monument using the fragments of headstones. So about half of the graves of my ancestors are missing.

What kind of sick barbaric animal desecrates a grave?

4) I'm sorry, but I just cannot see how anything at all can excuse the kind of indiscriminate murder that the Palestinians have decided on as their chosen form of political protest. When I went to pray at the holy sites in the north of the country, I saw cops and soldiers, but when I went to holy sites in the center, the security was simply insane. The army built a fortress (there is no other word for it) around and over Rachel's Tomb. You have to take an armored, bulletproof bus to a checkpoint, and a soldier (armed to the teeth) gets on the bus for the rest of the ride. Armored jeeps ride ahead and behind, with the gun ports open. The road has 20-foot high cement walls on both sides. When you arrive, the soldiers hustle you through the bombproof door, which leads to a brightly lit underground hallway. You have to walk for about ten minutes till you reemerge in the center of the complex. When you leave, the soldiers hustle you back onto the bus and escort you back to the checkpoint. When people enter and exit the bus, the soldiers spread out in a 360-degree defensive position, covering us with M16s and Galils, and watchtowers with heavier equipment, like we're getting on the last chopper out of Saigon.

All this so we could pray at Rachel's Tomb. After that Hebron didn't seem too bad, even though more people have died there.

Four years into the Al Aqsa Intefada, people in Israel have passed through terror, passed through fear, and have now arrived at pissed. Moshe Feiglin, formerly of the outlawed Zo Artzeinu party, is a serious candidate for Prime Minister. In case you don't know who he is, he is the most moderate of the "let's expel/shoot all the Arabs" faction, favoring economic incentives for leaving over expulsion. I personally find his positions distasteful, but I, like many Israelis, am finding it difficult to imagine another alternative, as peace with people who think that blowing up a shopping mall or a pizza shop or a nightclub is a good idea is the next thing to impossible.

5) The locally produced Coca Cola is a lot sweeter than the stuff we get in the US, even though we invented it. The vegetables taste a lot better. The meat, however, is seriously funky. I ordered a schwarma, and I don't know what part of the turkey was inside but I can tell you it tasted something like liver. Luckily I only got a little sick.

6) Surprisingly for a country composed entirely of sand, rocks, dust, and sheep, Israel is the most beautiful country I've ever seen.

7) I want to move to Israel, possibly within the next few years.