We had one of those Israel-is-a-great-country-for-outdoor-activities days yesterday, which was fine, and pleasant, and gave us a chance to see some of the northern landscape, but is not wholly interesting to my mind. I could grasp for some details that don’t come naturally to me and invent some descriptive language to give you the sensation of lazily rafting down the Jordan river, which is really more of a stream, but that seems a bit phony.
Each time I write, I choose to focus on the most meaningful aspect of my day. Sometimes that comes in the form of interpersonal relationships, or lack thereof, and sometimes it’s more directly related to Israel.
I had noticed a couple days ago that the t-shirts they provided to participants read “LA Way” on the back, causing my realization that I had not merely been assigned to a trip based out of LA, but the fabled film and entertainment sub-trip. Thankfully, mercifully, few participants have any connection to the industry. Baruch Hashem.
Yesterday, after a painful 90-minute discussion group on Israel and Palestine in which I said nothing, lest I provoke the passive-aggressive feminine wrath that lives among us, I approached our fantastic Israeli guide with another like-minded participant. I echoed his sentiment that we make time to visit a Druze village tonight, not just sun our beautiful bodies on the beach until they reach the correct shade of lobster.
Our guide, S., is fantastic. He has been trying to balance the desires of the few with the desires of the collective since we arrived. I know I shouldn’t expect to get my way too often, especially as we have been staying at a kibbutz for three days. Communal living doesn’t exactly endorse personal travel needs.
So this brings me around to my particularly circuitous point. S. and I started talking about what we would like to see more of on this trip. He told me that the excruciating discussion group was never meant to occur. We were supposed to have a talk by an amazing Israeli woman about film, television, and the Israeli entertainment industry. S. never followed up and called her to arrange the talk because her younger brother just died recently.
Her younger brother is Hadar Goldin, the young Israeli soldier, with the twin brother, who was presumed kidnapped by Hamas and later revealed to be dead.
They buried his DNA. That is what S. told me. They do not have his body, but some small fragments of a complete person. Countries have gone to war(s) over these shreds of DNA. I am thinking specifically of our country, and the unrecovered bodies of September 11.
I got a late start today and I need to put on my swimsuit and pack my backpack. I need to slather sunscreen onto my warm, pink flesh and think about a savvy woman with an encyclopedic knowledge of Israeli film whose brother is now dead, a boy who had just proposed to his girlfriend who is now dead. Eyes open, ears open, everything is connected.