© 2019 Drew T. Noll

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Building a Round-about in the Middle East

I guess it started with almost getting run down by a car skittering onto the sidewalk, stopping in front of me, the driver looking as if he was already coming up with a plan of action to downplay his fault in the matter, and…  ultimately causing me to jump out of the way of the out-of-control little green beast on wheels; but… that might be presumptuous... in the sense that it probably started with someone or something else that has more clout in the universe of real life, not the fringe-floppy one that I seem to inhabit. I worried about walking up and down that busy street right from the start. This was when I walked a whole of 10 minutes to get to the German gas system factory from my house, when I lived in a place called the Place across from The Winery. Now it takes me a half of an hour to get there… and then another half of an hour to get back home again.
 
I see so much stuff on my daily walks, stuff that could never be noticed from a car window, or even a bike or skateboard for that matter. There are ant trails to meticulously avoid stepping on, left rubber boots half buried inside weed-strewn hillsides, and an ever-changing kaleidoscope of construction debris and just plain trash to contend with… on my daily walks to and from the German gas system factory. There are stuffed animals and single bunny slippers waiting to be embraced with an artistic hand… from someone that lives in a fringe-floppy universe, that is… It seems that there ‘is’ reason, or harmony if you wish, written into the nature of the world’s happenings; you know, things seem to happen for a reason, and all that.
 
Now I live next to a place that the Shlubs call the Gate. The gate leads to a nature reserve that was created by Baron Von Rothschild about 100 years ago, or thereabouts… He’s buried there with his wife in a cave that descends down under the Height of the Gift, Ramat HaNadiv. I walk a lot there too. It’s outside of the Eruv (an arbitrary line defined by a structure that delineates an area that a Jew can carry stuff in on Shabbat, but that is another story); so, sometimes on Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) I empty my pockets and drink enough water to get me all the way over to the Canaanite graveyard, on the opposite side of the reserve from the Gate near my house. There are Tumuli there, but to get there I have to descend, again, down through time, through the Crusader ruins, the Byzantine ruins, and the Roman ruins, eventually arriving at a vista that gazes upon all of coastal Israel, well… at least down past Caesarea to the scrapers of Tel Aviv.
 
Yeah, you got stuck on Shubs (unless you ‘are’ one, upon which when reading you grinned from ear to ear… I know you guys). For all you non-Shlubs, a Shlub is actually a Coffee-biker-shlub and yes, I am one too. We ride mountain bikes and drink coffee in the nature reserve, as well as other well established riding Meccas around the area. We even have our own whisky label, Shlaberlour… But, enough on the subject of Shlubs. I began our journey with an event that established my awareness of a kind of lack of urban planning that exists in the Middle East. You see, I am spoiled, being the son of an urban planner that designed whole cities. My dad was no shlub, but he did design the city of Irvine in California (with help, of course). He would be rolling in his grave if he could see the lack of ‘said’ urban planning that exists here, in the center of the Middle East, in Israel…
 
So, in the Middle East it is very complicated to get anything done, but the exact process that complicates absolutely everything seems to cause a pattern in the fabric to occur. Case-in-point: I went to my friend Yosi’s garden the other day and witnessed the same fractured depth that I keep seeing in every dark, fetid corner around the Middle East. It’s a depth that can only come from time, and lots of it… Well, I guess about 2000 years of time. You see, about 2000 years ago, there were multiple factions vying for control of the Promised Land, some Jewish, some not. These factions destroyed the world that we are told God had sought to build here. Our petty, selfish ranting and goings-on collapsed the dream of the Devine… We splintered into a fecund pile of once human relics; and that was only 2000 years ago. Before that we failed as well…
 
So… when I stood on the corner, in the same spot that I had to jump out of the way of the little oncoming green machine, looking up at the German gas system factory that had been built by Christian Zionists in the Holy Land, I thought these thoughts; and then I realized that the Arab workers, that had been taking a break with a sweet smelling nargillah from their work sweeping asphalt into a ditch, were one of the factions, as were the Germans, as were the seemingly failed urban planners that presided from the local council of elders on the hill above the winery that had been across from where I used to live. I realized all this as I looked across the street at the Germans animatedly waving their hands, pointing with the clear authority of a doomed species, gesturing at the round-about that the local Jewish government had imposed upon them. They wanted a traffic light, I know, and the traffic circle was going to impede their designs to occupy the Promised Land, conceivably making a difference in the lives of the People of the Book. A traffic light would allow order to ensue, imposed upon the general public with robotic consistency, while a traffic circle would require ‘getting along’ with your neighbor.
 
In that moment, it appeared to be ‘real’ Rabbinic Judaism in action – bringing the masses together from all walks of life as one, cunningly requiring them (us) to work together and to give right-away to the guy that got there first. The Zealots were going to have to get along with the Pharisees, the Sadducees were going to have to accept the Christians, and the Idolaters were going to have to get used to the idea that Allah ran the world…
 
Yes, a smiley face goes here…
 
Happy travels to all you seekers out there and Shabbat Shalom!

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