Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Three Galilean Nights

Night the first -Death to the Arabs

"Where are you trying to get to?" asks the waiter at the small roadside diner.

"Dugit Beach."

"Ah, all right. You do know it's full of 'our cousins', though?"

We didn't and don't care, Arab company does not repel us. Despite the darkness, we get a quick lift directly to the beach, walk down to the shore and find a place to pitch our tent. Tiberius glistens across the sea of Galilee, the big dipper is suspended directly above us and a shower of meteorites is due to obscure it at any moment. I grab a flashlight and suddenly choke with repulsion. The gravelly soil is completely covered with dog feces, cigarette butts, bottle caps et al. The shores of my only country's only lake have become a pile of garbage. We comb the beach for a square yard of actual soil. There is none.

Behind us happy chatter is heard from a tent decorated with the inscription: "Death to the Arabs".

We return to the road and hitch back across the lake to the city.

Night the Second - Fuck Her Gently

On the way out of the ritual pool of the great 16th century mystic Rabbi Isaac Luria, a Hassidic man exclaims: "Mazal tov! did you know that Rabbi Luria said whoever dips in his mikve will not leave this world without returning to God and living a religious life"?

We didn't and don't care. I, for one, am very happy going through the narrow streets of Safed with an exposed, wet head and a free spirit. When another man at a cheesemaker's shop confronts us with a similar prophecy of rebirth, I ask to be left alone. He won't drop it and I leave the dairy. He follows me into the street and starts pushing me around.

Later that night we sit outside the shop of friends, playing guitar for a the masses attending this year's Klezmer festival. Adam dares me to treat them and their Yarmulkas with Tenacious D's "Fuck her Gently". I do so wholeheartedly.

Night the Third - Not Good

A hyrax climbs over the stone ramparts of Qala'at Namroud castle, staring at us as we take in an ultradramatic view of mountains covered with thick brush, steep canyon walls and a psychadelic sky at dusk.

We return to Tiberious and finish a good day of traveling with a pint of beer on its promenade. A man joins us, trying to sell us his self-published book of short stories. Once I purchase it he asks me whether I am religious.

"No" I say.

"Not good." he shakes his head.

"I'm very happy being secular", I add.

"Not good."

"Do you know that your behavior makes me feel unaccepted?"

He didn't and doesn't care. I get up and lean against the railing, looking across the dark water towards the eastern shore, towards a tent marked "Death to the Arabs" and a terrestrial sea of pollution. Can I call this glass of beer home? It's worth a shot. I'll down what's left and try squeezing my way in.

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