© 2019 Drew T. Noll

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Building Walls of Peace

At work at the factory of Beth El in Zichron Yaakov, they are building a wall. It is a wall, like any wall is, to keep out thieves and undesirables, a wall for privacy, and a wall for protection. Walls have been built throughout time for the same reasons. We feel secure behind walls but if we are on the wrong side we feel threatened by them. A wall is a symbol of many things. It can symbolize the primordial awareness of ‘fortress’ or it can just be something to perk our curiosity… what is behind that wall anyways? I have heard tales of giant walls surrounding giant homes in Johannesburg, South Africa to protect from rampant violence and thievery. I have been to the only wall I know of that was built to keep people inside of a country instead of out, the Berlin wall in what was then, East Germany. I went to the Pink Floyd concert at the L.A. Forum entitled “The Wall” and watched a mach plane land on it and crash it down. In my youth, while spending my Summers near Yosemite National Park in California, I spent countless hours toiling on hand stacked stone ‘walls to nowhere’ to continue the project started by the Tung Chinese Mafia informants from San Francisco that had been hid away 50 years earlier. Walls are an indefinable aspect to our physiology and our thought process that can be as physical as the Great Wall of China or as ethereal as the wall of silence that instantly flew up when we asked our parents about the birds and the bees.

So at work we have been instructed to keep the doors locked during breaks. The men building the wall are Arabs from Nazareth, a notoriously anti-Israel city. One of them has a sticker on the back of his car supporting Nasrhalah, Israel’s Osama Bin Laden. Early on in the project, one of the Arabs was continually caught walking around the factory asking for water or the bathroom. I have heard of at least one thing that has gone missing. This isn’t what bothers me though. What is most disturbing is that one of them, an old guy with a long grey beard, was heard at the front gate saying that they should just kill all the Jews working at the factory. This was said in Arabic and he evidently thought that the guy searching their car didn’t understand it. Maybe the old Arab guy was just annoyed at having to have his car searched for bombs every morning. Maybe it was just a joke amongst brother Arabs. Whatever it was, it illustrates a valuable point with regards to the Israeli-Arab conflict. It is not going to go away anytime soon, regardless of whatever the peace deal of the day is.

Former Prime Minister of Israel, Golda Meir once said, “Peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us.”

The last I heard, Palestinians were still dressing their children up as little homicide bombers with toy plastic bomb-belts and everything. I think we have a while to wait…

So the Arab workers are almost finished. I am really glad about that. It is a strange feeling to feel threatened in this way. It is something that simmers around in your head and creates boogie men around every corner. On the positive side, the ti’ach (plaster) crews of Arabs are a little friendlier then the concrete block layers. I got a smile and a nod from one of them while on break behind the building. Maybe it was just from my American accent or maybe it was something else. I did catch one of the younger Ti’ achim (plasterers) scanning the building through the window. I asked him if I could help him with something and he replied, “Ani rok mistakel.” (I am only looking) yes… but looking for what, I wanted to ask. He must just have been curious about what was behind the wall that they were building, right? And speaking of walls, here is a good joke I heard recently about another famous wall.

A journalist heard about a very old Jewish man who had been going to the Wailing Wall to pray, twice a day, every day, for a long, long time. So she went to check it out. She went to the Wailing Wall and there he was walking slowly up to the holy site. She watched him pray and after about 45 minutes, when he turned to leave, using a cane in a very slow fashion, she approached him for an interview.

"Pardon me Sir, I'm a journalist and my name is Rebecca, What's your name?"

"Maury Fishbein," he replied.

"Sir, how long have you been coming to the Wailing Wall and praying?"

"For about 60 years."

"60 years! That's amazing! What do you pray for?"

"I pray for peace between the Christians, Jews and the Muslims. I pray for all the wars and hatred to stop, I pray for all our children to grow up safely as responsible adults, and to love their fellow man."

"How do you feel after doing this for 60 years?"

"Like I'm talking to a @$%&*$% wall."

Happy Thanksgiving to all you Americans out there and while you are eating turkey and remembering the Indians and the Pilgrims, take a moment to remember what happened to the Indians when they traded land for peace. On the other hand, they did get to legally operate big casinos on their reservations. Maybe it was just a wash after all…

Happy Holidays!

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