**Had fun reading your Narrative, David. Also here in Israel for a month
with very, very old friends and my wife's family — currently in Herzliya.
This is my favorite "hangout" between semesters: safe, quiet, good food,
great people. We're figuring out how to "retire" (never gonna retire) here…
**Hope you continue to enjoy yourself here.
On Thu, Jun 2, 2022 at 9:32 AM <profdritchie@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Have you ever met a Hittite, a Canaanite, a Pict? Like other beings on
the earth people and peoples disappear. Others hang on. Learn your
people’s stories, we are told, so you know who you are. The question in my
mind this week is how much it matters whether the stories are true. On the
one hand stories bind— we are the people who endured suffering, were heroic
in battle, were kind— and on the other, stories put you in a bind,
encourage the belief or reinforce the fact that you don’t play well with
On the way into Jerusalem, maybe about where Jesus mounted the donkey,
there’s now Scotch Broom. It has a beautiful yellow flower and it’s
At Yad Vashem our guide said we were entering craziness. A little way in
she said, “I don’t usually say this but you are such a wonderful group…”
and then she supplied some particularly awful stories, worse than the
general run of awful facts in a Holocaust museum tour. A treat! The
lagniappe of misery.
There’s been a lot of yellow flower this week and some lagniappe of
craziness. But no physical violence. Unlike say contemporary Mexico,
military personnel here don’t drive the streets in a show of force. But
unlike say the U. S., the security guard at minor railway station or art
museum looks alert and ready to use a weapon to good effect. Israel is not
currently on general alert. People climb staircases, walk the streets while
staring at their phones or texting. But from Tel Aviv to the wall that
seals off the West Bank is less than twenty miles. There’s no getting
around the fact that the nation is surrounded and outnumbered. Masada and
“never again” are the references people repeat.
We did two days on our own schedule, hiking to Jaffa and then taking the
train to Haifa. And then three on a coach with wedding guests, visiting
Masada, the Golan Heights, Jerusalem.
Practically no one wears a mask. It’s as if COVID has gone away and life
from two years ago crept in on a tide.
Imagine a group of loosely-affiliated humans demonstrating the spirit of
shalom while visiting sites of much violence. We got along as visitors from
Imagine all the words of John Lennon’s “Imagine” inscribed on the back
wall of the lobby of the Sheraton hotel. Art, bought and paid for.
Something DADA about that.
Imagine a dinner provided by Circassians. i had to look them up.
Jerusalem is a small old place, surrounded by a bigger new one. If it
wasn’t blasphemy in the tenth degree, I’d suggest you could zip line from
the top of the Mount of Olives, over Gethsemane to Golgotha. They’re
The groom’s father fought in the Six Day war and in Yom Kippur. A secular
Jew from Tel Aviv, he doesn’t like Jerusalem, “No ability to compromise.”
I tell him I’ve never fired a gun. He says, “You haven’t missed anything.”
It’s a few minutes before I realize that has two meanings.
Tel Aviv people will tell you, “There are two states—Tel Aviv and the rest
of Israel.” Maybe someone should propose a three state solution?
More DADA. In the nineteenth century a treaty or agreement was signed,
freezing in place spatial arrangements in the Done of the Rock/ Church of
the Holy Sepulcher, buildings marking where Jesus was said to have been
crucified and then ascended to heaven. At the moment the agreement was
signed there was a ladder outside a window; some work was in progress,
work which necessitated the use of a ladder. The ladder was included in the
inventory of what was where, so no one has been allowed to move it since.
Been outside the window for more than a hundred years.
Again. The Western wall is not a wall of the second temple in the sense of
holding up the roof of that structure. It was more like a deck support, a
retaining wall essential for a jutting patio. It’s holy because that’s what
remains. The wall is for the unwavering; those who compromise get the
rubble. There’s some rubble, supposedly thrown down by Romans, a
comfortable distance from where the orthodox back away from the wall like
people leaving the Royal presence. The rubble is for those who prefer to
worship in mixed company; they can have their bar and bat mitzvahs in its
presence, break a glass at a wedding to remind themselves that in the midst
of life there’s both joy and destroyed walls.
In Jerusalem our small tour group was provided with a guide, who was very
good, and an armed medic.
I wondered what compromise could be considered. How about the model of
Lascaux’s cave paintings? You’ll recall that the paintings were being
destroyed by the breathing of many people wanting to see them, so someone
hit upon the idea of re-creating the work close by. The same has been done
at the cave Werner Herzog made famous. How about recreating Jerusalem?
“You can have two, three versions, exactly as you wish, where you wish.
City of David, second temple, what you want, omitting everything you
disagree with . Plus hot yoga? Drip irrigation.”
The camel among the tourist vendor people on the top of the mount of
olives costs, said our guide, one price to mount, another to dismount. On
We entered Jerusalem through the dung ( or garbage or as I called it the
“holy shit”) gate. Just along the way from the tannin or tanners gate. At
other gates there are lots of bullet holes in the walls. People fighting
to get in.
Jerusalem has four quarters: Jewish, Moslem, Christian and? Armenian. Our
guide said, “They’re very good diplomats, Armenians.”
Our bride and groom have a young baby. ( They were married in New York;
Covid delayed the Israeli celebration. ) Traveling with a small kid has
reawakened my wonder at the miracle of the boob. I’m of course , in the
manner of some males and lesbians, distracted by the look and other
function of boobs, but here I’m reminded of what was once a fact of
fatherhood; I lack the ultimate ability to quiet a child. What a miracle
What kind of miracle? Opposite of Lazarus? Not quite. As good as walking
on the Sea of Galilee? Well that’s a big body of water. Feeding with
loaves and fishes? Closer I suppose.
How about the miracle of flying? Jordan, not the state but the river is
big for a brook, probably also greater than a burn, but half the width of
the Karun River in Ahwaz. That’s an unhelpful comparison for most readers,
I know, but that’s where my mind went when we crossed over. I was in
Ahwaz, Iran for a couple of months in 1978 and saw beside the Karun a sign
marking the very spot where an aviation pioneer, named Ritchie if memory
serves, crashed into the Karun. Not a good idea on many fronts, not the
least of which is that sharks swim up from the Gulf and sometimes take
cows. I saw fins, almost hidden by silt in the water.
Outside Haifa there are fields of bananas, all covered up, like they need
to be concealed from drones, like they are some kind of military secret. No
doubt there’s an explanation. Invasive pests perhaps?
D, the Hereabouts reader I mentioned last week, drove us to Ein Hod, an
artists’ colony founded by Marcel Janco and others. Janco was the co-
founder of DADA.
What a grand day that was. With chickens.
I tried to talk with them but found they’d taken Janco too much to heart,
“ Time and a brand of detergent wait for no man.”
Much nodding in the marsh.
One could think of Israel as California with more camels, and churches
built where people were stoned. Don’t see those in California. St.
Stephen, for example. Kaiser Wilhelm paid for a church where that death
happened, or thereabouts. Prince Phillip’s mother is buried there .
I asked what the difference between a schlemiel and a schlamachel might
be. “One pours soup on the other.” In other words one is a jerk and the
other is merely hapless
I noted the following signs:
Moving money for better
In the city partner hello future
The authority will be happy to answer your touring questions
The find spot of the lots
Parking for private vehicle according to the markup
I recommend Jachnun, a Yemeni breakfast: brown boiled egg ( guy passed
over the white ones) indescribable rolled up dough-thing, tomato sauce,
green hot sauce.
Temperamentally I’m not adventurous at breakfast, but when in Tel Aviv, do
as Yemeni Jews do.
After we floated in the Dead Sea we were so happy to shower. I reached for
the soap, “made with Dead Sea minerals.”
The wedding is coming up. Then, of course, Malta. Our guidebook says the
macho thing to do in Malta is sit in the back of a pickup and shoot birds
that are of their way from Africa to Europe. Totally illegal. And quite
DADA too. I’ll give that a miss.