Sunday, March 30, 2003
Today I did my usual travelling around for work, passing through Israel's three largest cities in the process. In spite of today's terrorist attack in Netanya, things seemed reasonably calm. Of course, I am never sure whether my sense of the mood reflects anything more than how I'm feeling that day. If I'm feeling relaxed, I say that the mood of the city was calm. If I'm tense, I report that the city is tense. As we say in Arabic, hek iddinya (Hebrew: kakha ze).
The centre of Jerusalem looks dreadful these days. The main streets are all being ripped up to lay the foundations of the light railway, and there are metal barriers and mounds of earth everywhere. Two years of war (euphemistically known as "Intifada") have taken their toll, and the once lively city centre looks desolate and empty. Tel Aviv and Haifa looked pretty much the same. In spite of Saddam life continues.
I travelled with a bunch of young soldiers who described in graphic detail how an undercover unit assassinated a top Hamas official. Naturally I won't reveal the details here. It's depressing to know that the tadpoles will one day be required to enter the army and live this kind of a life. That prospect is approaching with increasing speed, it seems.
Sometimes it isn't easy being a little green frog in the Middle East.
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