I have to admit it, I like the people here. I am walking in Be’re Sheva from the apartment to the University. Between islands of for the most part successful geometric-styled modern architecture the desert remains, asphalted over temporarily in places, and drifts of sands sweep across the ground when the wind rises. Ahead of me I see a student straddling the 12 foot metal fence that is the boundary of the Hospital. He awkwardly lets himself fall to the other side.
I have been thinking that I am sitting on a fence with regard to the Israelis, offended by their isolation from each other and from me, each in their own groups of family, sect, temple, occupation, yet knowing that this is the same old story of a people trading impartiality of love for safety. Difference is, it is out in the open here, there’s no pretence of loving your neighbor, no golden rules. But exactly what you’d expect from people who choose their own rules, and obey them on their own responsibility, rewarded and rewarding with full attention, they are astonishingly smart and warm hearted when they choose to be.
I ask the student what he is doing up there, for he has climbed back up to the fence top. His head covering had been blown off by the wind and through the fence bars into the dirt. Couldn’t leave it there. I offer to hold up to him the back pack he’d left on my side so he wouldn’t have to climb down. Yes, that would be a help, he’d hurt his back, he says, he’s a little disappointed in himself.
Neither of us is a kid anymore, I say, and continue on my way. I have to admit it, I like the people here.