Saturday, February 25, 2006

La Petite Refugee Camp

I might as well finish out the week on the same happy note as it began: Raphael's brief hospitalization. I'll start fresh tomorrow in Tara, Scarlett willing (not Johansen).

Allow me to preface this entry by noting that although I don't blog about the Palestinian-Israeli situation, the Hamas victory, Putin's invitation, Israel's upcoming elections, the pitiful French response to gut-wrenching blatant anti-Semitism and other matters political, I'm not living in clueless realm. I simply choose not to write about this stuff because for years I was in the thick of it while working as a journalist for various international news organizations and for the time being I am in the backseat. Thanks for your support.

The above noted, ONE thing I learned while working in the hard news realm is how very grey life is. For instance, when at one point I was in Ramallah covering something or other, it boggled me to witness Israeli soldiers hangin' with the cousins (Palestinians) - lighting cigarettes for each other, trading jokes - you know, hangin'. ..until some silent code was emitted and everyone fell into his respective role. Cut. Friendship over. One side now throws rocks, chants slogans and burns tires and the other fires rounds of tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammo to quell the upsurge. I was like: What in the hell just happened?

So how does that relate to a 4-year-old's hospital stay? The room Rapha shared was with Mohammed and Noora. Mohammed is a 15-year-old from Gaza's Jebalya Refugee Camp suffering from Crohn's Disease and arthritis. Noora, 12 and also from Jebalya, was in the hospital for ongoing treatment of an ailment I didn't quite catch. Both were accompanied by moms in modest Moslem garb and as it turned out, Noora's mom heads the camp's Red Crescent Society's Womens Health Center and speaks fluent English.

On the opposite side of the room was Gal - a 12-year-old Israeli girl suffering from severe headaches in hospital to undergo brain scans. Her father took me aside to confide that he had been one of the original undercover agents used in crack units during the 1st intifada. He infiltrated Arab society to aid in the arrest of insurgents.

"I speak fluent Arabic and I know what they're talking about," he confided while sending a glance to the other side of the room. What were they saying? "Something about getting through the checkpoint to come up here from Gaza." State secrets.

With perpetual conflict and enmity in abundance how do Gazans end up sharing a Tel Aviv hospital room with a part American/part Danish kid (he doesn't draw cartoons. Yet) and a former undercover agent?

Grey grey grey. The closer you get the blurrier the view

1 comment:

ontheface said...

This is so, so accurate. I wish that everyone who thinks our local conflict can be explained in terms of black and white would read this post.

You go, girl. Keep on tellin' it like it *really* is.