Gaza, Egypt and Iam Hamelakh

Last month, my cousin and his wife traveled to Israel for their honeymoon. A freshly met friend offered to take us on a trip to his parents’ moshav, Yated, at the border with Gaza and Egypt. We went on the top of a monument from where we could see up to the see and had a glimpse on both territories. No need to say that from there, a cloud of dust sprouting from Gaza is not the most reassuring thing.

IMG_0913

In the back: Gaza

IMG_0916

Straight ahead: Egypt

IMG_0914

On the right: the moshav

We then went to visit the workshop of an artist who lives across the street of my friend’s, Yaron Bob. I let him explain what he does because he does that better than me.

This guy is a magician, he can transform a fork into all kind of animals, and he showed us every thing he does. We also had a glimpse of his raw material:

IMG_0926 IMG_0925

He explained us that the big ones, the Qassams, are handwork: people take a sewage pipe, suture three small wings on it, fill it with explosives and shoot. It’s impossible to aim with that, and since they stay inside populated area to avoid reprisals, they generally land in the middle of fields. He pointed out to the one in the front and said: “This one landed in my property yesterday”. My cousin’s wife was not totally relaxed. The missile he holds in his hand is a professional one, sold by Russia or Iran (you can tell by just reading what is written on it). There is the Iron Dome against those, but if they shoot more that nine at the same time, not all of them can be intercepted.

IMG_0928

IMG_0933 IMG_0934 IMG_0931

While we were waling around the properties, we asked if there were snakes and scorpions. To what he answered that we shouldn’t be scared of scorpions, but of the animal eating them! Let me introduce you to Akshuvah (Solifugae in English).

Luckily we didn’t meet any of those little creatures.

The day after, we drove to Iam HaMelakh (the Dead Sea) and enjoyed the fresh spring of Ein Bokek.

IMG_0976 IMG_0992IMG_0999 IMG_1005A tradition at the Dead Sea is to cover oneself with the nutrient-rich mud of the sea and then rinse it in the salty water. Although you can’t find the mud on the banks of the sea anymore, you can get some at the local shop (No worries, it’s VERY cheap!).

IMG_1015

And because some asked if you really float in the Dead Sea: yes, you do.

IMG_1024

Oh, and the water temperature is probably above 30 degrees. Come visit!

Do I lack humor?

The other day during lunch, we were discussing about those webcams that are capable of following your face when you move in front of your screen… but that don’t work if you are a black person. The stupidity of the designers is already quite disturbing, but what I wasn’t expecting was the “joke” that followed: “It’s (sic) doesn’t really matter since they don’t know how to use computers.”

I stayed pop-eyed for a while as I didn’t know if he was joking or not and the third person wasn’t reacting much. So I incredulously exclaimed that what he was saying was awful, to what he answered: “It’s just a joke!”.

I tried to explain him that 1. It was racist. 2. It was not funny. 3. Although he says he’s not racist, saying racist stuffs sounds pretty racist to me given that your first thought about black people is a prejudice about their intelligence. That was not okay at all. He tried to argue that he would not say that in front of a black person because he wouldn’t want to offend her; that since it was only us it was fine; that we should make fun of everything and since we make jokes about Jews, why not also about Blacks? BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT BLACK! But it was a joke!! But it’s not okay!!!

Little to say that I slightly lost my temper. There was nothing I could say to make him understand, and I actually knew it from the beginning. Israelis have the most twisted humor you can imagine. If you know me, you also know that I’m not the last one to make borderline jokes and dark humor. I’m telling you, I have been shocked more often here than during the rest of my life. They of course suffered a lot during wars, terror attacks and Quassam rains, and the souvenir of the Shoah as well is still very vivid, and joking about it is a way to cope with it. This is not new, Jewish humor is all about it and I love it. But they have no limit. They joke about absolutely every thing. So why not about Blacks since it’s okay to joke about Frenchies?

Maybe they are right, maybe we should be able to laugh about everything. But I have never been able to laugh at a joke about the Holocaust. Or harmed children. And prejudices are not jokes. So why is it okay if they are about Jews? I don’t like that they joke about money and the allegedly weird attraction we have for it. It’s funny of course because it makes fun of those saying such a thing, but what if by continually reinforcing prejudice we finished by living by them?

Israelis are like kids to whom no one told that although jumping into a pound might be fun for them, it could also spatter others who don’t like it. The debate will not end soon…