Thursday, 31 May 2007

"I only get in with Jewish taxi drivers"

I had a meeting yesterday with one of Jerusalem's best known Moving Companies to discuss our upcoming moving date. The owner of the business came over to my flat - a charming guy with very good English, a proud list of service guarantees, and a sweet smile. He presented me with his perfectly-written English language handbook and proceeded to give me his pitch.

“We are the best and most reliable movers you will find in Israel. I pay my workers very well so they enjoy working for me. Some have worked for me for many years and wouldn’t do anything to risk their jobs. They move your belongings with care, there has never been an instance of theft from my guys and at the end of the job they will not ask for a tip. If you want to give them one, it is entirely your choice. I give you a fuller level of insurance than anyone else so you don’t have to worry. You can get a cheaper price elsewhere, but you will end up losing in the end when they damage your belongings, steal your valuables and bully you into giving a massive tip.”

And if I wasn’t sold yet he gave me his killer-punch. “I don’t employ illegal workers. Only people with Israeli citizenship. And no Arabs.”

Fantastic! No Thais and Poles without proper paperwork, and no Arabs who, naturally, would steal all my valuables.

The sad fact is that this pitch works for most people - plenty of times I've heard people say that they avoid getting in with Arab taxi drivers. If he pays so well and has maintained his staff for so long, why not interview Arab workers as well, and if they’re good, employ them. Does he really think that a hard-working Jerusalemite Arab who is getting paid twice as much as his neighbour would risk anything that could cost him his job?

What it comes down to in the end is a smart businessman tapping into widespread racism. I guess it’s hardly surprising that the man on the street thinks like that when prominent figures such as Former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu feel its ok to advocate carpet-bombing Gaza to root out terror. They’re only Arabs after all.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Looking for: A woman to meet a man in his 60s

We Jews might only make up 0.227% of the world population, but we manage to find plenty of ways of differentiating ourselves from each other. We love labels. Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Liberal, Secular, Charedi, Chassidic, Masorti, Traditional… the list goes on. Last week I received an email that referred to a shiur taking placing at an Egalitarian Traditional shul. The problem with all these labels is that we often have no idea what they actually mean. Which is why I was especially glad to see someone take the time to actually define one of these terms… in a lonely hearts ad in Friday’s Jerusalem Post.

The anonymous bachelor took out an advert on the classified page, titled “Looking for: A woman to meet a man in his 60s”. A native Californian now living in Jerusalem, “still involved in his U.S. businesses” (a.k.a. wealthy) describes himself as having “a rich history, a wonderful sense of humor, likes people and loves Israel… very modern orthodox”. Sounds good, so what’s he looking for? A “very modern orthodox…physically attractive and well groomed” woman, not “a leftist”, professional, worldly, “unencumbered with young children” and under the age of 50. After giving his email address he offers five bullet points defining “very modern orthodox”. They include having a day school education, being a follower of all basic halacha, into mixed swimming, watching TV and going to the movies…and a hatless trouser-wearer.

Well, there you go. If you do all of that, you’re “very modern orthodox”. If you wear a hat or skirts you must be “extremely modern orthodox” or perhaps “old-fashioned orthodox”. If you didn’t go to day school you’re just “a little bit modern orthodox” and if you’re a bit lax on basic halacha you might have to settle for “only just modern orthodox”.

If by any chance you fit the description and fancy meeting a guy 15 years older than you – who knows what he wants – don’t worry about being short of small talk for your first date. Mr Very Modern Orthodox promises “other criteria to be discussed”.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

The students strike back

I never left England because I was running away. I love England – I enjoyed growing up there, studying and working there. I like English sport and culture, and I was really fond of the English sense of fair play. There were however moments of discomfort, when I felt that ‘fair play’ was getting steamrolled. One of those moments came when the AUT, the Higher Education Union, voted for an academic boycott of Israel. Although the motion was eventually reversed – after a tough fight – it was a reminder that there are some people who really don’t like us and know exactly how to hurt us – education. Jews and Israelis have never been the greatest sportsmen or fashion icons, but when it comes to academia, we’re well up there.

As tends to happen with our people, when our enemies aren’t succeeding, we normally know the best way to help them along. England’s Israel-bashing academics might not have succeeded for now to damage Israel’s universities, but we’re doing a pretty good job at doing it ourselves. Following the release of the Shochat Report which included a recommendation to raise tuition fees, Israel’s students went on strike. For a third of this semester, they did anything besides sitting in lectures, classes and the library. Students who crossed the picket line spoke of harassment and academic sabotage.

Ask an Englishman what characterises a student, and you’ll be told drinking, partying and sex. Studying comes a distant fourth. A friend of mine pointed out that if English students ever suggested that they would strike, they would be met with a chorus of laughter. A strike requires not working, which most students ably do most of the academic year! But in Israel education is sacred, students tend to do a fair amount of work and the thought of empty classrooms is of real concern.

We Israelis pay massive taxes of which a large chunk goes into defence. After that, you’ve got feeding the poor, improving our schools and hospitals, paying our public service workers properly, caring for elderly Holocaust survivors etc etc. The list is endless and there simply isn’t the money to go round. The students are theoretically right – they shouldn’t have to pay any more – but cutbacks have to be made somewhere.

After 37 days, the student leaders have finally agreed with the Prime Minister’s Office to halt the strike and get back to class. The fees will be frozen for a year, but after that, it’s anyone’s guess. When the issue comes around again – for goodness sake – let’s deal with it without another self-inflicted academic boycott.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Irresponsible boys and a blameless nation

Last week, I bumped into an English gap-year student who was heading towards Burgers Bar on Emek Refaim. He was full of the joys of a year with no exams, not a day’s hard work, no interfering parents and free use of daddy’s credit card. I asked him how his year had been. His initial response was “amazing”, “the best ever” and “so cool”, but as we got talking, it turned out that he wasn’t so happy after all.

His youth movement had chucked him off his programme and was trying to get his yeshiva to throw him out too. “I did nothing wrong,” he said. “All I did was go to Istanbul for a short holiday without telling anyone.” Reluctantly he agreed that he had done wrong and that the movement had a right to be angry, but felt that they were being unfair in trying to get him kicked out of yeshiva. “I’m in the middle of my spiritual discovery,” he said. “If they kick me out now I will be spiritually lost. Who knows where I’ll end up?” In other words, his youth movement would be totally responsible if he ended up leaving the faith altogether.

The more I reflect on Winograd’s conclusions and the reaction that followed, the more I think back to how the country overwhelmingly supported the war. Most of us called for an invasion of Lebanon and we wanted it fast. If Olmert had waited, we would have been up in arms. How could we sit back and be silent when our soldiers had been killed and kidnapped?

When I mentioned this to a friend, he told me that we only supported the war because our leaders created an atmosphere that led us that way. I don’t buy this at all. We always have the ability to think for ourselves and make up our own minds. Throughout the war, I don't recall Kikar Rabin calling for a swift withdrawal or a speedier ground assault. When it comes to tuition fees or municipal taxes we know how to form an independent opinion, but for some reason, last summer, we only heard what our leaders were saying.

Ten months later and Qassam rockets are raining down on Sderot again. 35% of the population has left. Some will never return. Schools are closed and businessmen are wondering whether they made the right decision in being located in Sderot in the first place. What should be done about it? We surely can’t allow the south to be held hostage. If we act should we respond with targeted aerial attacks or a full-blown re-occupation? What will the world say? And if we do respond, what will that do to the Hamas-Fatah civil war and future balance of powers?

If there are two lessons from last summer, it is that the Government should assess the situation & do what it thinks is right and that we must challenge them on everything they tell us.

In dealing with Hamas, the Government should be bold in taking whatever measures it deems appropriate. But moreover, we – the people – should be even bolder in holding our government to account. It’s not good enough to blame the Government again if things go wrong and we were silent.

Only children prefer to blame those around them when things don’t turn out the way they want.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Taxi Tales

Taxi driver (T) - Where to?
Jonny (J) - Gan Sacher please.
T - Jump in.
J - Do you mind not smoking?

Taxi driver chucks his cigarette out of the window

T - You just have to ask, you know?
J - I know - I just asked.
T - All right, but you don't have to make a big deal about it.
J - I didn't - I just asked.
T - Whatever. What's going on at Gan Sachar tonight?
J - Big concert for Yom Yerushalayim. All the stars are going to be there.
T - Why do you want go there? It's going to be full of freichot and arsim.
J - Just fancy doing something special for Yom Yerushalayim.

After two years in Israel, I still get surprised when I have to explain myself to taxi drivers.

As we reach a junction, a guy with long hair rides past on a bicycle.

T - You can't tell the difference between them.
J - Between who?
T - Boys and girls today.
J - Hu?

The conversation paused for about 30 seconds while I tried to figure out what he was talking about.

T - Did you hear the news?
J - What?
T - More Qassams fell on Sderot.
J - Yeah. It's a mess.
T - I don't understand how you can go to a concert and celebrate when Qassams are falling.
J - That's Israel. We're always at war with someone, but somehow manage to find a way of celebrating life.
T - Who's performing tonight?
J - Everyone... Idan Reichal, Harel Skart, Shlomi Shabbat, Hadag Nachash...
T - I have all their DVDs (I think he meant CDs) . Why don't you stay at home and listen to them. You could have a babrbeque and open a bottle of wine.
J - Because it's not the same as seeing them live.
T- I don't understand you kids.

He pulls over outside the park.

T - That'll be 18 shekel.
J - Here, take twenty.
T - Thanks. Is that Shlomi Shabbat on stage?
J - Yeah.
T - I love that guy. Let's see if we can find somewhere to park.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Antisemites of the World, Unite!

Antisemites - they're everywhere.

Politics: France's new President, Nicolas Sarkozy, won the Presidential Election by six percentage points. Where did he get most his votes? In the French Embassy in Tel Aviv, where he won a whopping 90% of the vote, a higher percentage than he won in his hometown. So naturally, you would expect him to hold his victory rally in Bloomfield Stadium Tel Aviv, but no, the antisemite opted for Paris. And if you still have your doubts - after all, he had a Jewish grandfather - he just appointed a Socialist Foreign Minister who blames Israel (a.k.a. the Jews) for everything.

Sport: West Ham United's great escape from relegation out of the English Premier Football League will go down in sporting history as one of the great stories of survival. When West Ham were ten points adrift at the foot of the table, they never could have imagined that they would be playing top flight football next season. The commentators have heaped praise on Argentine superstar, Carlos Tevez for turning West Ham's fortunes, netting a hatful of goals in the last few matches. But anyone who actually saw West Ham beat Manchester United in the last game of the season would know that the real hero was Israeli Yossi Benayoun who cleared the ball off West Ham's line twice. None of the commentators will admit it, but Tevez's contributions were secondary to Benayoun's heroics. That's because Yossi is a Jew and Carlos is not, and all football commentators are antisemites.

The Arts: Scandal of scandals. Worse than getting "nil points" at the Eurovision Song Contest, Israel didn't even qualify this year. The Israeli entry may not have included any monsters, nor were any of the band members previously of another sex. Their entry might have been about nuclear war, but that's clearly not the reason that they were unceremoniously dumped out of the competition. Yes, you guessed it – the judges were all antisemites.

It shouldn't come as a surprise to us that antisemites have infiltrated all aspects of public life. We've known for a long time that all of Europe are antisemites, and this week, the Americans proved that they too are antisemites when they turned down an invitation to celebrate a united and undivided Jerusalem. To paraphrase an old saying: It's not our fault we're paranoid when everyone is out to get us.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

1967 and All That

It’s strange how history tends to judge similar events inconsistently.

In 1948, Israel was at war with Egypt, Transjordan, Lebanon, and Syria, conquered territory that it had not been assigned under the 1947 UN Partition Plan, and the war resulted in approximately 360,000 Palestinian refugees.
In 1967, Israel was at war with Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, conquered territory that it did not control under the 1949 Armistice Agreements, and the war resulted in approximately 200,000 Palestinian refugees.
The territory Israel gained in the War of Independence is considered legitimate; the territory gained in the Six Day War is taboo.

British Ambassador to Israel, Tom Phillips, recently echoed the view accepted by almost everyone in the world: “There are aspects of the occupation that distress me, having gone around the territories and looked at it, that I find hard to justify. I cannot justify the amount of settlement activity that is going on…I think this is a major obstacle to peace.”

There are different views explaining who caused the Six Day War. The fact is however, that Phillips and co. couldn’t care less about who or what caused the war. The way they see things, Israel began occupying Palestine in 1967 and continues to do so to this day. The Palestinian problem (as well as a host of other Middle Eastern and international problems) will only be resolved when the occupation is ended.

Israel marks Yom Yerushlayim this week – 40 years since Jerusalem was reunited, 40 years of Jews being able to pray at their holiest place on Earth. It is also 40 years of occupation. The dream of a Greater Israel, a return to all of Israel’s holy sites and a more secure Israel, has not played out as some might have hoped. Yom Yerushlayim carries with it forty years of baggage, making it difficult for many Israelis to celebrate.

As I personally struggle with this question, I remind myself that we’re not celebrating 1967 Day or Six Day War Day – it’s Jerusalem Day. A day for us to stand in awe of our capital city with its beautiful Old City and buzzing kanyon. To wander up Emek Refaim, see the packed hotels and witness the state of the art Light Railway come to fruition. Day to day, we Jerusalemites complain a fair amount about our city and all its problems. But for one day, we will see the bigger picture. Now that’s surely worth celebrating.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Three Cheers for Cromwell!

There are few things that I enjoy more than spending an evening curled up on the couch with a good DVD. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new action film, a good comedy or an old musical. But recently, a new genre of DVD entered my life, when a friend of mine got hold of a copy of the ceremony at Bevis Marks Synagogue in London, marking the 350th anniversary of the re-admission of Jews to Britain. You can’t find that in Blockbusters.

The ceremony brought together the leaders of Anglo Jewry and representatives of the British establishment, most notably, Prime Minister Tony Blair, for a service of thanksgiving. Bevis Marks was the obvious location for such an event. It’s England’s oldest and one its most beautiful Synagogues, it’s in central London, and its members are as English as they come. They talk posh, wear top hats and no doubt, drink tea at five and host garden parties.

Several children from the local Jewish Primary School, dressed impeccably in their maroon school uniform, hair brushed and teeth sparkling, went up on the stage to offer thanks to the people of England. Addressing the Prime Minister, the children thanked him and his predecessors for being so kind to the Jew, allowing him to come back after he had been expelled 365 years earlier and for tolerating him ever since. “Oh thank you Prime Minister, thank you so much for not massacring us, or forcing us to live in ghettos. Thank you for allowing us to open businesses and to vote in elections. It really is awfully kind of you.”

Yes. We Jews are so used to persecution and hatred that we sound almost surprised when we’re left alone.

Don’t get me wrong. We have a lot to be thankful for, but at the same time, it’s a reciprocal relationship. We shouldn’t try to hide the things that are most important to us, as if we’re a bit embarrassed by them. Like our deep love of Israel. Throughout the ceremony I was struck by the absence of at least a mention of Anglo-Jewry’s strong ties to the Jewish State and support for strong bilateral ties between both countries. The service concluded with laughter all around when the choir performed its rendition of God Save the Queen in Hebrew. I wondered whether they would sing the Hatikva in English, but given the atmosphere of the event, Mr Blair could have been mistaken into thinking that “Lihiyot Am Chofshi B’artzenu” (To be a free people in our country) was referring to England.

But even the best planned events occasionally have their blips. Only a keen ear would have noticed that when the choir sang Aleinu, they followed the Sephardi liturgy that includes a line about the gentiles, removed from the Ashkenazi siddur years ago – “For they bow to vanity and emptiness and pray to a god which helps not.” Now that’s not cricket.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Who's to blame?

Taking responsibility: We love talking about it but hate actually doing it. Ever since a child is old enough to understand, his parents and teachers go on and on about the importance of taking responsibility. I remember a Rabbi once saying that whenever he teaches a Bar Mitzva boy, he always asks him what it means to him to be becoming Bar Mitzva. Almost without exception, he said, the answer is, ‘Being of age means that I must take responsibility for my own actions.’

Everyone preaches about responsibility. But when it comes down to it, human nature kicks in, and we do everything possible to avoid it. The leaders who led Israel through the disastrous Lebanon War still refuse to take responsibility and resign. Before Winograd’s findings were released, they defended their record in the war. After the findings came out, they still shirk responsibility. Ironically, when Sharon founded his new party in 2005, it was initially named Ahrayaut Leumit (National Responsibility), before the party leaders changed it to Kadima (Forward). Forget about responsibility, let’s just go forward.

The shocking scenes from Beitar Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium, where 30 people were injured in a crush on Sunday, bring back awful memories of the Hillsborough Disaster in 1989. At the final whistle, with Beitar just a whisker away from winning their first league title in nine years, the fans attempted to run on the pitch to celebrate. At Teddy, the spectators are kept behind fences, with gates that only security can open. When the fans rushed forward, those at the front were crushed. Even when the gates were opened, the crush continued as thousands tried to funnel through the narrow gaps.

With ambulances, medics and stretchers in the background, Jerusalem Police Chief Ilan Franco gave an interview saying that it wasn’t his fault. As far as the police were concerned this was a normal fixture, as the league could only be won the following week. The club says it wasn’t their fault that there is a perimeter fence around the ground – they were planning to take it down for the following game but never anticipated that the passionate fans might be getting a little excited. And of course the fans claim it’s not their fault – it was just a natural reaction. Apparently it’s no one’s fault

The Police Inspector-General has announced that a special investigative team would be set up to assess the events leading to the event. Let’s just hope that when they come out with findings that places the blame on a combination of the police, the stadium and the fans that someone might step forward and say ‘I take responsibility for my failings.’ Unfortunately, I suspect that the reaction is more likely to be ‘kadima!’

Sunday, 6 May 2007

A Day in the Life of a Kiosk Owner

There’s a wonderful institution in England called the Corner Shop. You rarely have to walk more than 5 minutes until you come across one, open from early till late, seven days a week, with all the chocolate bars, newspapers and cartons of milk that you could ever need. Owning a Corner Shop is a trade particularly popular with Britons of Asian descent - which means you can normally get whatever you need even on Christmas Day! Corner Shop owners are considered hard working, upstanding members of society, who, together with accountants and undertakers, provide the rest of us with life’s most important services.

Israel doesn’t have Corner Shops. It has Kiosks. The kiosk on our street backs on to a small park, making it an absolute goldmine. Throughout the summer, hundreds of children and parents wander around the park, all hungry for ice cream and thirsty for chocolate milk. Over the winter, the owner made some changes to boost business, ahead of the summer surge. He started by knocking a hatch though the back wall of the kiosk so that he'll face the park (which he never opens). He then painted his new kiosk… pink. And finally he painted a “No Parking” marking on the road outside of his kiosk so no one should block his view of the street. Genius.

As if the Knesset made it mandatory, every kiosk – however big or small – has its own satellite dish, along with all the sports channels. This helps explain the mystery of why the kiosk owner stays open so late, even when most people are home for the night. Every evening, he and a few of his mates do precisely what they would do at home, but without their nagging wives reminding them to wash the dishes, put the kids to bed and fix the wobbly door knob. The chevra sit around the kiosk’s little table, and enjoy 90 minutes of uninterrupted pleasure. The kiosk owner knows that however little trade he’ll get that evening, he is guaranteed to sell 5 packets of cigarettes and a kilo of garinim.

Beyond selling today’s copy of Maariv and Yediot, and tickets for this week’s Lotto and Totto, most people assume that there’s more to the kiosk owner than meets the eye. No one really knows how the kiosk owner makes his money but let’s just say, it’s not how Mr. Patel does it.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Cleaning Israel’s Smog

Over the past couple of days Israel has experienced, a weather phenomenon, known here as ovech. Ovech occurs when a hot, dry wind blows a whole load of dirt and sand from the desert across the country, creating a thick smog. It leaves a layer of dirt over all the cars and windows that stays until you clean them (only to return two weeks later with the next ovech!) The best way for Mother Nature to relieve us of ovech, is by sending a huge storm, allowing the heavy rain to clean the air and let us start over.

We all expected the Winograd Report’s Interim Findings to criticise the Government and its leaders for Israel’s performance in the Lebanon War last summer. But no one expected it to be quite so stinging. Olmert, Peretz, Halutz, the Cabinet, senior officers and advisors were all blamed. Not only were the decisions wrong, but it revealed a cancer in the workings of government that requires a massive repair job. There were immediate calls for Olmert and Peretz to resign. And when Tzippi Livni, the candidate most likely to replace Olmert, stepped forward, it seemed that the revolution was really under way. That was until she called for his resignation, but forgot to offer her own if he didn’t. The half-heartedness of her leadership, the readiness to sit on the fence even at a moment of truth, took the sting out the wave of revolt. It now seems like Olmert will survive for the time being, blocking the possibility for new faces to come in and start the cleaning process.

As I arrived at work this morning, there was a crash of thunder and the clouds burst. Finally, some relief from the ovech. But the storm never came, and after a few minutes, the rain had passed and the ovech had survived. Strange how the weather reflects our political climate…

Being a Member of a Secret Society

Some men have the freemasons, others have poker buddies or rugby teams. I have weekday shul.

Being a regular weekday shul-goer is like being a member of an exclusive men’s club. We have a meeting place, a shared uniform and a common objective. And there are usually just men.

The only difference between weekday shul and the freemasons is that in the freemasons, most lodge members know the other’s names and occasionally talk to one another. Members of the weekday shul club know each other’s faces, a bit about each other’s laning and davening skills, but not very much else.

When we weekday shul-goers pass each other on the street, we give each a knowing nod and then carry on with whatever we’re doing. The nod speaks louder than words. It says ‘Hello fellow shul-goer. I may not know your name but I respect you because you are also as crazy as me in getting up in the morning at 6am to go to selichot. Have a good day.’ The weekday shul-goer’s nod is our secret handshake.

The shul-goers’ mutual respect is strongest on the street. But when we’re at shul, that respect isn’t always so important. Two days ago, I witnessed a classic weekday shul encounter at my regular Mincha service in the Global Park Office shul. At 3pm, a few workers from each of the companies slip away for their ‘cigarette break’ and spend 15 minutes together in the privacy of the bomb shelter. There are Sephardim and Ashkenazim; Chassidim and ‘normal folk’. There might be hundreds of workers in the block, but I swear, I could meet any other the 30 Global Park shul-goers, anywhere in the world and would give them ‘the nod’.

As we got to the end of the Amida, the Lubavitcher leading the service, attempted to skip the Tachanun prayer, and move straight to Kaddish.
‘What are you doing?!”, yelled a Moroccan.
“It’s Pesach Sheini tomorrow,” replied the Lubbie.
“But we say Tachanun on Erev Pesach Sheini”.
“But I don’t, and I’m in charge today!”
Cue all the others, and a huge argument erupted, verging on a mass brawl… all over whether to skip a prayer (that we all hate) on the day before the Pascal Offering would have been offered in the Temple times, if we had been impure a month earlier on.

I quietly gave ‘the nod’ to one of my colleagues and we slipped out.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

A Land of Contradictions

On Yom Haatzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, several hundred settlers chose to mark the day by marching to the ruins of the evacuated settlement of Homesh in the northern West Bank. This followed a series of earlier treks to Homesh on every Jewish holiday, in an attempt to show up the government and push for resettlement.

Not all settlers favour calls to resettle this area, and even fewer are willing to break the law in going there. This group is made up predominantly of young, religious settlers who believe in their God-given right to live in all the land promised to them. The Arabs have shown that they won’t live under them nicely, so they need to be forcefully pushed away. The Palestinians, on the other hand, see the settlers as unwanted colonialists, living on their land. They see the straggly haired hilltop youth as nothing less that the scum of the scum – lawless hooligans, causing havoc under the noses of their conniving leaders.

When one views things in such clear terms, there is little room for debate and no room for self questioning. Black and white, so it seems.

Not so. When the settlers marched, they waved at IDF jeeps and bought ice cream from local Palestinians who had arrived at the scene with shopping carts. What?! The friendly gesturing at Israel troops makes sense, but the trading between settler and Palestinian, occupier and occupied, enemy and enemy? If the Palestinians hate them so much, why did they go to such lengths to provide them with refreshing snacks on a hot day? What were the settlers doing giving business to the other?

Put simply, Israel needs ice cream, and the Palestinians need to sell ice cream. It’s the old Siamese twins problem rearing its ugly head again. We need them and they need us. Which is why we will never separate from each other, despite what our leaders might say. Will we come to an agreement with them once day? Maybe not. But an understanding? Certainly.

It’s exactly this land of contradictions that I live and breath.