I’ve been thinking a lot recently about something that happened almost two years ago. It was right after I got back from Jordan, and I volunteered to share my experiences studying abroad at the Study Abroad Office fair, where returned students can show pictures and information with prospective Study Abroad students. They stuck the entire Middle East together which, at that particular event, consisted of Jordan and Israel.

The girl representing her time in Israel is someone I knew from … classes? the Jewish community? who knows how you know these people, in any case, we knew each other. The conversation went something like:
“So you were in Jordan…how was it?”
“Yeah, it was awesome. How was Israel?”
“Great…[idle chit chat]…so were there any boys?”
“Actually, I was dating a Palestinian guy. What about you?”
“Yeah, I’m actually still dating a soldier…”

Then there was a moment – a pregnant pause – some awkwardness because here we were: she would never date a Palestinian (even in Jordan) and I would never date an IDF soldier (I know, I know, never say never). But we were stuck in this little room together with our battling slideshows and glorious stories of being the American in the Middle East.

And she was on one side and I was on another, and we chose not to engage, exhausted by the mere thought. Content just to listen to each other’s stories and talk about boys, Palestinian, Jordanian, Israeli, or American, and eat Chinese and Indian food from those more revolutionary Study Abroad destinations.


One thought on “Boys

  1. A Jewish state would be a state where Jews are favored over non-Jews under the law.
    I would think people who were affected by such laws, by such a state, would be aware of the valuation.
    A Jew would not have to make as much sense as a non-Jew in an argument, for example. The Jew would get a bonus, would benefit from “affirmative action”. The non-Jew would get a penalty likewise.
    For instance, a Jew could complain about incitement of hatred of Jews without having to mention this legal arrangement. And a critic of this Jewish state would have to avoid mentioning this legal arrangement.
    I wonder if the bonus/penalty is somewhere in the ten percent range. Or does the kill ratio in Cast Lead and in Lebanon in 2006 give the actual discount rate–something more like ninety percent or nine hundred percent? (Fun with numbers: the IDF killed 1400 Palestinians in Cast Lead and the Palestinians killed six or seven IDF and no Jewish civilians. That makes the kill ratio two hundred to one, which makes a Jewish life worth two hundred non-Jewish lives, so a Jew gets a 20,000 percent “affirmative action bonus” and the corresponding penalty is borne by the non-Jew. That’s twenty thousand hundredths, which is two hundred. I’m 20,000 percent more important than you. I’m one two hundredth as important as you, or one half percent as important. Does this start to describe the conversations in and concerning the present Jewish state?)
    My premise is that “affirmative action” might be ostensibly restricted to immigration policy–Jews who have never been to Palestine can immigrate there but non-Jews who were born there cannot return there–but the osmosis of social mixing causes the discount rate to percolate through all state practices, from building permits to combat operations.
    At what point does the non-Jew conclude she does not exist? What does she do then?

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