Friday, July 06, 2007
Israel is one place which I’ve always heard about and never heard the right thing. I guess to most of the people it stands as a complete mystery which they claim to know quite well. I was traveling from Trichy to Thanjavur and met two amazing people from Israel with huge backpacks, carrying everything they would need on their shoulders (this included camping stuff for a camp in Kerela). The things that they spoke among themselves were all Hebrew for me (see the pic above) but we started our conversation in English and all of us were comfortable with the way each other spoke (except for a few words). Coal was a dancer and Hogard a musician (I know, quite a people to meet!). I didn’t have a really tough time starting the conversation, unlike other foreign visitors that I have met these were very friendly and we picked up our conversation instantly. We spoke of so many things that made me form a totally different image of Israel than what I had before (the image which was painted by the news channels for me).
They said that they were Jews but not religious and though it sounded like the coolest thing to me it was quite a dangerous statement to make for a person living in Israel. It sure must be a very pitiable situation when you cannot express your own views in your own country. Coal said that it was sad that in their own country they were under immense pressure to ‘behave’ in a ‘religious’ way. It was dangerous to such an extent that they had to think many times before visiting a place of religious significance in Israel. The collaboration which seems so natural to us as Indians with the Israel is in fact only on the political level, the people of Israel do not welcome secular thoughts very often (though the number of Indian students in Israeli universities has increased drastically and Coal expressed her happiness for the fact).
Political instability is something that they have got accustomed to now and the constant feeling of unrest is not alien anymore! The most depressing thing that I heard was that even Jews who preferred to stay secular (and peaceful) were scorned at and felt unsafe in their own land. I read about a similar situation prevailing in Turkey (Orhan Pamuk’s Snow), where being secular was not always an option for an individual without power. As Indians I think we are much better off.