Hubski. Yesterday, I was courageous!
On Monday evening a friend I know from Israel contacted me with the info that there have been two drug-related deaths at a festival in Israel and that her sister, a moderator at a national radio station, needs someone with expertise in harm reduction and drug checking to speak on her show.
My first reaction was "HELL NO!". The radio station she works for is one of the most listened to in the country and the time of speaking would be during lunch break. After 8pm, the second peak of listeners per day. In short, maaaaaany people would be listening.
Many fears came up. My hebrew is not good enough. The drug checking I am doing is - strictly speaking - illegal. I was afraid one of my parents or people I know from my home town might listen and what effects it might have... "Your son is talking about drugs on national TV!!"
Nevertheless, I agreed. After a quick 5 minute chat with one of the workers at the station that simply told me to "speak about what you know", it was set.
From that moment I was SO nervous! I started to read everything possible about what happened. Sadly, very little information was known at that point.
The next day, I was super nervous. The closer the interview came, the worse it got.
Then I got the call. I could hear the current live show running in the background and another voice talking to me. She verified who I was and asked me how I want to be introduced. I told them with my full name and profession.
A few minute later me and another guy were on air. First the other guy was speaking. Someone who attended the event and could answer general questions about what happened. I was getting more relaxed.
Then my turn came.... Honestly, I only have a vague recollection about what I said. I just remember three things.
1) When she asked "what is MD (slang for MDMA)?" I went on a full-blown neuroscientific response, just to realize halfways that nobody would understand me.
2) At some point I got nervous again and my voice got shaky. Which made me stutter.
3) After telling her about the drug checking action that I do, she asked "Isn't that illegal what you are doing?" I somehow got angry. Suddenly all the nervousness went away and with a clear voice I said "honestly, I don't know if it is legal or not. All I know is, if I have a way to stop someone from injuring themselves or dying, I would do it".
And with that, the interview ended. I was shaking for the next hour.
I felt so bad. So many things I could have told but didn't. All the little mistakes. I thought "Why wasn't I more prepared?".
Then I got a message from a friend that listened to the interview. She loved it. She loved the message and was happy to hear my voice through the radio :)
And I remembered, that for the first time, I showed a part of me to the broad public. Fully knowing what kind of consequences it could have.
I told my mother later. She was proud.
His tactics were the same and you correctly observed his major move. Take a subject that people don't agree with you in, tell a half-true statement about it ("I froze the settlements") and then divert the answer to something that connects to the internal fear of every israeli citizen: "They will push us into the sea" aka ISIS, Iran, Al-Qaida, Hamas.
Israel is an easy place to create enemy images because the contact between "us" and "them" (the arabs, even the ones living in Israel) is minor. A few reasons:
1. We live in different cities. With a few exceptions like Jaffa, Lod, Jerusalem and Haifa, the arab israelis and jewish israelis are separated. My home town is about 5 minutes away from the next bigger jewish city and represents a border checkpoint between greater Tel Aviv and the arab triangle. Jewish citizens of Israel are usually afraid to pass through our cities because they have been told scary stories about our cities. I had to convince some jewish burners to actually come visit me. They were scared shitless and then were totally surprised that nothing happened. They were expecting people to throw stones on them or even shoot them.
2. We have two separate education systems, with important differences. A few examples here too:
2.1 History. Officially, our curriculum is only supposed to cover the ottoman empire and what lead to the creation of the state of israel (with as little details as possible), the french revolution and the Nazi-regime. Many details about the years 1915-1948 don't get covered. We don't learn about the jewish terrorist organisations like the Haganah and Irgun, or the Nakba - my peoples exodus. But some teachers add in a lesson or two so we do not forget. On the jewish side of things, the Nakba didn't happen. Different stories about the same historical events like how the jewish acquired the palestinian lands before 1948 are told. It is illegal to mourn in remembrance of the massacres against and exodus of the palestinian people on the 15th of may, Israel's independence day and also Yom el Nakba.
2.2 The arabic education system forces the students to learn arabic, hebrew and english at school. The jewish education system only requires hebrew and english. Some schools offer arabic as an elective module. Even if taken for 10 years (arabic for jewish students), the level reached is barely enough to order some Hummus and a drink. Just enough to be able to say: "Jib el hawiyya". Which translates into: give/show me your ID. Which gets me to my next point.
3. The military. Jewish 18-year olds are required to go to the army. Men for 3 years, women for 2. Arab citizens do not have to go to the army. The army acts for many as a brain-washing machine. I have lost most of the (few) jewish friends that I had after they went to the army. For such a young person to be confronted with war and death is a very intense experience. An experience that leads them to search for simple answers. And the answers they are given are the "us vs. them" argument. "See what those arabs did? They killed your friends. Do you think that the arabs are good?". The fear mongering starts at school, but reaches its peak during the army.
On the other hand, the arabic youth goes another way. Usually its university, because it is the only way "out", the only way for a better future. There are many hurdles in the way of a young arab who tried to go to university at that age, which I will not dig deeper into unless asked for. But the results are that many leave the country, like I did. Or, settle for a job somewhere, that does not require a certificate that states that they went to the army. A legitimate prerequisite for any job in Israel, btw.
After the military, many leave the country for India, Mexico or Australia. They are broken and search for a purpose. They leave for at least one year, some never return. The ones that do return, or never actually leave, are either hippies or super brainwashed. Still scarred by what they saw during their time in the military. Few actually see through the bullshit, many buy into the game of fear. Everyone tries to get by and live somehow.
A jewish person, with the baggage of his ancestors, the story of the promised jewish land, the brainwashing to keep the military state and the oppression running.
An arabic person, with the memory of his grandfathers village that was occupied, the olive trees, the troubles to find education in the country, the daily treatment as a second class citizen.
Two similarly aged groups of people, in the same country, not even 10km apart, that have totally different lives and all they know is: they are the enemy.
P.S: mk, we really need the drafts option on Safari :D
Yesterday morning I woke up, tired and excited. It was the day I have to give my 10 min about my master's thesis to the group I applied for a PhD thesis at. I practiced my talk a lot, I did't want to repeat my mistakes from my thesis defense (they did not like my discussion part). Still, I was anxious, I had to prove to myself that I can make it...
I woke up 4 hours before the set time, planned my travel time to be there half an hour earlier. Went through my talk again and went out of the house with some Alt-J on my ears, to calm me down.
Of course it was a mess. I had to change my train twice, making me miss my connection etc. I was late, and I was worried. This is germany, being on time is probably one of the most important values, and I am fucking it up already.
I talked to the Prof., he said its okay, I arrived, surprised that there was no one in the room. Phew.
I had time to check if my slides were fine and have some smalltalk with the Prof. before he called his PostDocs in for the talk. And then I switched to english, and things went smoooooth, very smooth.
They liked me. He did, his PostDocs did and his Docs too. And I like them too!!! He asked me when I want to start... Wait a minute, 2 weeks ago I was confused, no direction, looking for advice what to do. And then I stumble into something that just turns out to be amazing! WTF?? Does it work like this?
I am lucky.
He told me it will take some time till my contract was set etc. so I wouldn't be able to start working before next month. And there I decided, I am flying back to Israel for 3 weeks. Eid al-Adha is on saturday and I know my parents would be happy if I was there to celebrate with them :)
So, a few hours later I booked the flights, for the same night. And so I found myself watching the sun rise over Istanbul while listening to Tycho's Awake, one of those moments I would probably never forget.
In less than 24 hours, I went from cold Düsseldorf in Germany to the warm and slightly windy Nablus in the heart of Palestine...
Everyone is shopping for the holiday. The streets are crowded with young guys selling toys, clothes, fruits and sweets. It wakes a specific feeling inside of me that reminds of my childhood. This ability to induce this feeling is long lost at my hometown in Israel but I always find it in the Westbank :)
Two crazy days, and I feel happy and ecstatic. Somehow, alive...