“Today you went into East Jerusalem?!?” (An aggressive interview with myself) 

Are you crazy!?!

According to the IDF I am…

But seriously, you went into East Jerusalem today!?! In the midst of Armageddo- I mean- Intifad– I mean- you know what I mean? 

I did. I walked through east Jerusalem all day.

Weren’t you scared? 

Yeah. I was a little scared before I went.

Was it scary?

It was not scary.

Would it have been scary if you had been speaking Hebrew?

I think it would have been.

Do you know that? 

I do not know that.

Was it tense?

East Jeruslaem is always tense.

But was it tense tense, like infritata-tense? 

Like what?

You know. That-which-must-not-be-named. 


Answer my question. I’m the aggressive interviewer here. 

Well, There were fireworks and other assorted booms over the hill in Silwan.

And that’s all? 

Well, there were heavily armed guards patrolling the perimeters of settlement compounds implanted in the middle of occupied East Jerusalem’s biggest Arab neighborhood by an organization that wants to de-Arabize the neighborhood and whose government-sponsored armed guards have shot and killed young Palestinian men in the past. 

photo 1

But that’s not new. Is it?

No. But the recent influx of settlers there was the biggest in decades.

Are you implying that the settlement expansion in Silwan has contributed to recent unrest in Jerusalem in general and in Silwan in particular?

I’m not implying that. I’m saying that.

Are you saying that settlement expansion justifies Palestinian acts of violence against random Israelis? 

Nothing justifies murder, especially not the murder of unarmed people, especially especially not the murder of unarmed three month old babies, may her tiny memory be an enormous blessing.

How about stone throwing?

What I think is Wrong with the Discourse on Stone Throwing. 

You can’t just link to an article in the middle of an interview…

This isn’t really an interview.



Anyway, why are you bringing up the settlement thing?

As Hillel Cohen wrote in his book about 1929 (God help us all that 1929 feels so relevant, still), while explaining how the Jewish Community in Hebron was inextricably linked to the Zionist movement: “Does this justify acts of massacre? No. It only explains why one should not see the events in Hebron as an onslaught of illogical savages upon a serene community that threatened no one.”

Ok. So you were in East Jerusalem, huh? What did you do?

I led a small tour. And stopped by to visit some Palestinian friends/colleagues/acquaintances.

How are The Palestinians?

I’ll defer that question to Every Expert who Has Tried to Assert some Sweeping Truth about The Palestinians lately.

Fine. How are your “Palestinian friends/colleagues/acquaintances”?

They seem tired and harried, but also ok. They’re used to tension and oppression.

“Oppression, oppression.” Is that all you can ever talk about? Do you agree with everything these Palestinians have to say just because they’re oppressed?

No, of course not.

Ok. Give me an example of something you disagreed with from today? 

Easy. One fellow we met said something about how part of the Talmud teaches that Jews are supposed to sacrifice non-Jews.

Holy shit. What did you say?

I said that that is absurd and untrue.

What did he say?

He said he read it somewhere.

How can you listen to anything he says after he says something like that?

If I wrote off everyone who made a bigoted and ignorant statement about a religion they know nothing about, I’d barely speak to anyone in this country.

What do you mean?

I mean, how often do you hear Israeli Jews talk about how Islam tells all Muslims to slaughter all non-believers. “Their jihad says idbah al-yehud,” as it were…

But is that as bad a statement? It doesn’t echo the Protocols of the Elders of Mecca, as it were…

I dunno. Maybe it’s as bad. Maybe not.

How can you defend them when they say things like that? 

First off, careful with your pronouns.

What do you mean?

One person does not speak for the entire population. There’s no “Them” here. And second, being oppressed doesn’t make people good, and people don’t need to be angels to deserve to be free and unoppressed. As I wrote this summer, I don’t think Palestinians are more moral than Israelis, they’re just more powerless and more severely wronged.


And what?

And what you? 

And I liked this guy.

You liked him!?!?


Do you like racist Jews!?

I do indeed like many Jewish people who hold racist opinions…

Why did you like him?

He was kind and funny and empathic.

What else did you talk about?

About how hard it is to live in Silwan.

How hard is it to live in Silwan?

It seems really hard.

How can you tell?

I’ve been there a lot of times, seen some upsetting things, and I trust the stories of the people I know there, even if one resident gives too much credence to goobery articles he reads on the internet.

What else did you learn?

That some guy named WolfMan is making a bunch of money off of anti-car-attack-train-blocks.


Does he really write his name like that in English, with the capitalization in the middle?

Probably not. Translator’s privilege. It’s weird, profiting off of fear…

Not that weird. What else did you learn?

That Abu Shukri’s was pretty empty.


The top floor of the Austrian Hospice is closed for renovations for the month of November.

Oh the woe of me. 

It was a bummer.

Anything else? 

No. I saw a lonely horse that reminded me of a Mahmoud Darwish poem and a ginormous religious man on a tiny bicycle and a nice sunset in Sheikh Jarrah.

photo 3

That’s all?

That’s all.

No dramatic moralizing today?

Nah. No dramatic moralizing today. You were the one who wanted to do this interview.

Oh well.


Shut up.

Oh well.