יום ראשון, ינואר 01, 2006

Jewish Racisim and other thoughts

Laos I'm told is pronounced Lao (no s). I'll be arriving in Vientiane Tuesday morning and will have a few days to get to Von Vieng for Shabbos. I found a Shomer Shabbat/Kashrut partner for the next few weeks. Should cut down costs and help with making Shabbat proper. I think the bread issue can be solved and the visa issue will be dealt with along the way in Vientiane. 15 days at the border and then a few more with an extension. No worries.

I'm hoping to get in some trekking. The more I'm here and talk to people I feel I'd find more of what I'm looking for in Nepal and India. Thailand seems to be filled with tourists rather than travelers. Lots of folks running around to the same attractions - bungee, elephants, jeeps and waterfalls. I just want a few days of hiking in some hills with a nice view and some interesting people. Finding the country behind the wall of tourists is becoming a challenge. We'll see.

In other news, I still owe Elizabeth and Sabour parts 3 & 4 of my Israel thoughts. Part three is now under construction. I was also asked where I live in Israel and I've decided to leave that question unanswered as I can't see anything positive come out of whatever response I might give. I would hope that anyone reading this would give me the benefit of the doubt and assume that I live in the part of Israel that they live in - just one of your neighbors.

My last thought I want to share is on Jewish racism. It is very real. I'm not talking about other people disliking Jews but rather Jews who look outside and see a world of "Goyim". It bothers me. While I was in Sydney I had a moment of realization that I was coming form a very insular background and part of the tradition I've inherited was a bit of racism. At the time I wrote about it and now can't seem to find what I wrote. Looking back it now seems obvious. Growing up in Jewish Community, USA, I went to a Jewish school and had Jewish friends. I moved to Israel and made more Jewish friends. I dated Jews. I started university and sat in classes with Jews. And so on. As outgoing and as worldly I thought myself to be I was still in a world of us and them. At some point this year I had the following concept move from external to internal: "They" are just like "Us".

The Indian girl and the Greek I was hanging out with have the same thoughts and street smarts that I have. The Muslim from Pakistan was one of the nicest people I'd ever met and was just as grounded in his beliefs as I am in mine. He could logically and clearly explain his theological world just as I could mine. My list goes on but I think you get the picture. I realized how racist I was and once I realized that... Interesting.

I recalled this whole story after a conversation with someone here in Bangkok. Looking through the eyes of the locals I found that Thailand is just one more normal country with people working jobs, getting stuck in traffic and eating dinner with their families at night. When I mentioned this to a fellow Jew here I got the response of "You make them sound so normal!" (The word he used was "Enoshi'im", lit: human.) I was blown away. "Yes! They are! Just normal folks like you and me!"

He got a bit defensive and said it was only a joke. But still. I found it frustrating that after all the times I had tried to explain to people that Israel is a normal country and no-one has to duck under sniper fire when they leave their house, I now was hearing a similar sentiment from a Jewish person about non-Jews. Very sad.

Beyond that, not much. I have the rest of today to burn here in Bangkok and everything is closed. Also tomorrow things are shut down as it is a public Thai holiday of some sort.

3 Comments:

At 3:32 לפנה״צ, Blogger Elizabeth said...

There is something very touching about your story of leaving the cocoon and going out in the world...

I grew up very differently. By the time I was 10 years old, I had lived in three countries on three continents. My parents were raised in different cultural/religious milieux from each other. I have always thought of myself as different from most people due to this--more worldly and knowledgeable than most I guess...I've often thought if you don't have these experiences when you're young it's often too late when you're older...but maybe I was wrong about that..

I hope your journey continues.

 
At 2:40 אחה״צ, Blogger Elizabeth said...

You don't think I live in Israel, do you? I'm in New York City. Which is not part of Israel, although some people in Brooklyn believe it to be...

 
At 3:17 אחה״צ, Blogger Elizabeth said...

I'm not sure what you're afraid of in terms of letting people know where you live.

 

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