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La Dolce Vita

Wrong Side of the Wall

ISRAEL | Thursday, 15 May 2014 | Views [8413] | Comments [7] | Scholarship Entry

We pushed through the Arab Quarter and focused on the dusty ground, avoiding eye contact with anyone as if that would disguise us. It didn’t. One elderly Muslim man with a turban spat at us, his face taut with anger; another yelled profanities in Hebrew while briskly shutting his shop doors to our group. Children ran around us quickly, frighteningly, singing and dancing and sticking their tongues out at us with youthful confidence.

They could tell we were with a Jewish group. They all hated us. Everyone here. I felt my throat get tight as I realized we had nowhere to hide. We’d taken buses and walked around Tel Aviv with no issues but here, the Holy Land, here people cared. It was a deeply personal issue to them. I heard a woman wailing at us, her face stricken with grief. She blubbered something in Hebrew, her words disguised by the thickness of her sobs. Israeli Jews probably killed someone she loved. She pointed an aging, wrinkly finger at me and I wished I could speak Hebrew. I’m sorry.

I’d never experienced hate like this before. Seemingly nice people walked away from us as our group marched on, lost in the wrong place, completely by accident. We’d wandered too far to the left. We’d ended up in the very place they told us not to go. The Rabbi’s wife cried silently next to me, her pious body clutching me for comfort. “They’re going to hurt us if we don’t get out of here soon.” I’d seen nothing but smiles on her lips since being in Israel. I knew we were in trouble. “We’re not supposed to be here.”

As we quickly trotted through the cobblestoned road, trying to find our way back, I noticed the harlequin rugs blanketing the doors and windows, masking the structure underneath, as if the shops were made solely from evocatively colored Persian wool. Each rug held a different story. Each rug was hung with pride. The gold ornaments, rubies, emeralds, incense, and multi-faceted clothing filled all of the little crevices in shop windows; windows that we were not permitted to look at.

We turned a corner and there stood a fifteen-foot-high gate armed with at least twenty Israeli soldiers. The Rabbi’s wife ran and hugged them; they let us through to the other side and we were safe in a matter of seconds. The metal ground behind us and each side was once again segregated from one another. I glanced back and saw a little Muslim boy staring at us through the cattle grid of the old gate with such eager curiosity. He did not yet know. Soon. Soon he would know.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

Comments

1

Well done on winning! Really excellent story! Now if only we could eradicate religion from the world, eh? Call me a dreamer......

Really nicely written story.

  krismole Jul 3, 2014 7:08 AM

2

firstly congratulations for winning the story.this one touched me deep inside. there's a reason! ofcourse the writing , and the last line for sure kills you! till few months back , i had not known anything about this israeli - arab conflict. in my recent travels within india itself ( i am from india) , i met many israeli travelers , and understood the situation. and it saddens me to know this! :-( your piece covers the situation beautifully! :-) xoxo

  samarth Jul 9, 2014 11:26 PM

3

i am sorry as your story is completely falsfying the truth .In fact ,your troops killed palestinian children with illegal weapons .I should myself write a story and will name it :Isreali gangsters are causing a genocide

  sarra Ibrahim Aug 5, 2014 6:42 PM

4

What will he know exactly? I am very troubled by this post. I know you are writing about your experience in Jerusalem but the Palestinian side is not the "Wrong" side of the wall. The hatred that Arab Jerusalemites reflects the threat and stress they deal with everyday because of the racist Israeli policies towards residents of East Jerusalem. You have no clue of the amount of restrictions they put on them, all for one reason.. Systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from all of Jerusalem. I know you don't want to get political but we don't hate you because you are Jewish, we hate you because we know that just by being Jewish you automatically have rights in our own land whereas we don't have basic human rights here.
Otherwise, nice writing and have fun.

  Rana Nov 12, 2014 12:23 AM

5

Congrats on winning the scholarship last year, it was an excellent piece.
I found it well written, with no hint of judgment, it was your experience - a terrorizing one. I am saddened by some of the comments, I think your story was read through the veil of their painful experiences. Common but sad that they miss the point.

  travelling crone May 18, 2015 3:29 AM

6

Great, gripping story! Nicely delivered too...

  DJRaby Jun 9, 2016 10:41 PM

7

The information is too general! All are assumptions; I would like to know how did you know that the man who was pointing the finger is Muslim, for example? or how could you understand that what they said in Hebrew were profanity if you couldn't understand Hebrew in the first place? or why would they speak Hebrew if they are, as you call them, Arabs?I could write a whole page of questions wondering how did you get the information you wrote about, because these aren't something you realize by observation. Your naming of the areas is also inaccurate as you referred to the area "behind the wall" as you call it the Arab Quarter. It is ,as referred to it by UN resolutions, called Palestine. Your writing style is not bad. I just wonder how could a piece like this win with such "inaccurate" content.
PS: I have been to the mentioned areas you are talking about ( Palestine and "the wrong side of the wall") and I know it very well, that is why I think the least I could say about the content is that it is neither comprehensive nor accurate.

  Nina Jul 3, 2016 8:49 PM

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