An eXile Incursion Into West Jerusalem
JERUSALEM -- The first thing airport security asked when we landed in Ben-Gurion Airport was, "Why did you decide to come to Israel? Don't you know there's a war here? Aren't you afraid?"
I wanted to answer, "Afraid? Hell, I dated a teenage junkie psychobitch for 10 FUCKING MONTHS! War in Israel is like Club Med compared to her!"
Maybe we were stupid, but eXile counsel Moe Snideman and I were not in the least bit worried when we arrived in the Holy Land last Thursday. All we wanted was to get to the King David Hotel, where there was sure to be enough gin to settle our twitches.
"Jews don't drink much," Snideman noted, his comb-over coming undone over a scalp of sweat. "That's a known fact. But the King David is a Leading Hotel. It caters to goyim like myself. There's bound to be a fully-functioning bar."
"You're a goy?"
"I object to your suggestive questioning, Ames. Back off or I'll serve you."
As it turned out, the King David hotel was nearly empty. The bar was barren. Snideman had to scream for his gin. The Israelis didn't respond. They had bigger things on their mind. Like war. They didn't find Snideman, or any American, to be all that interesting.
The foreign journalists, afraid of outdoor dining in West Jerusalem given the abundance of flying screws, nails, and entrails, have long since abandoned the King David and West Jerusalem opted for the American Colony just across the line in East Jerusalem.
Service at the King David was so atrocious, they once refused to iron Moe's linen shirt, telling him it looked fine. He forced them to take the linen shirt anyway; the next morning, they returned it unironed -- and didn't charge him. They also told me that I couldn't change my airline ticket, a change which would have allowed me to tour the West Bank with an Israeli Radio journalist team. At the airport, I learned too late that the ticket could have easily been changed. The concierge at the King David had simply lied to me. There was a war going on. Why work? Why tolerate our bullshit?
It was my Israeli cousins who first opened my eyes eleven years ago, during my only other visit there. They and their friends described Israel as an apartheid state. They complained about being forced to serve every few months as reservists, pumping plastic bullets into rock-throwing Arabs' backs. They dreamed of leading normal lives in a normal country -- America was where they really wanted to live. They were sick of it all. Sick of the crazy settlers and fundamentalists, sick of the hatred, sick of the Arabs. They had no illusions about the Palestinians as angelic victims, the way bleeding hearts in the West do -- they just didn't want to oppress them.
Another Israeli cousin was even farther to the left. He wanted Israel destroyed. A former fighter pilot, he believed that the Jewish state had failed, and that it should be dismantled altogether, handed over to the Arabs. He is a Sephardic Jew, the niggers of the Jewish state, the "chakhchakhim." He only votes for the Arab parties.
It was my relatives who formed my opinion of Israel, and I've held onto that view ever since.
Only Sharon has affected that view, in ways I'd rather not talk about.
One of my cousins has since become a well-known radio journalist covering the West Bank for the IBA, Israel's BBC. He has a wife and two children, and he likes his job. He is more fatalistic about living in Israel than before, yet his politics are still roughly the same.
"I still believe that we need to pull out of the West Bank and Gaza completely," he said. "We need to pick up all the settlements, and to build a fence to keep them out. I still believe it is wrong."
In what ways has he changed, I asked him.
"Before, I used to believe that we could live with the Palestinians. I was very naive about that. Now, I don't. We need to build this fence, and let them try to survive without us. I never want another Palestinian from the occupied territories in Israel again. If they starve, that is their problem.