Misty Water-Colored Memories

Barbara Nicolosi's where I was roughly this time of year last year. Good photos and similar experiences --scroll around here for evidence of how lush Israel is --if you picture only desert, you're wrong. And although I don't share her dislike of Jerusalem (and I found my 4 am minaret call exotic and beautiful), this description is apt and useful in understanding the situation.

What about Jerusalem made me angry? Well, you have to be there to really understand. Because no matter how artful my language, nothing will convey to you the gross incivility, inappropriateness, and intrusiveness of what seems like a gazillion Arab mosques all projecting their whining call to "prayer" on loudspeakers every few hours. It is jolting and HORRIFIC. Like cats screaming in alleys in stereophonic sound. It's the kind of thing I'm sure they do with sound in concentration camps to break the will of the prisoners. And it made me mad.

The minarets screaming everywhere discordantly in Jerusalem are way more than Moslem acts of loving devotion to God. They are clearly provocation in a city which is already tense as the center of focus for several major religions. It is the Muslim version of "We're here and we're queer!"

A little more:
Looking over the Kidron valley to the Old City, at night, one is immediately struck by the "what's wrong with this pictureness" of the Muslim towers with their garrish neon green lights scattered all over the landscape. We've been up and down Israel this week, and nowhere have I seen as many of these things as in the Old City. Even in Jericho, which is entirely Muslim, we only saw one minaret. And we never heard the screaming on loud speakers there.
A little further down she tries to apply American pragmatism and the principles of equality to a solution:

I asked our guest, a politician from the Knesset, "Look, why don't you sit down the Islamic leaders of the mosques and ask them to please respect the other people in the city? They don't live here alone, and it is completely uncivil for them to dominate this whole environment with their screaming over loudspeakers. They can certainly have their call to prayer in normal voices, but doing over electronic loudspeakers is intrusive for the rest of us who aren't Muslim."

The Knesset guy responded, "It is complicated."Now, since coming to Israel last week, this is definitely the most oft-repeated line that I have heard from everybody. From the grand to the humble. From scholars to handy men. From folks of every faith. Eventually, in every conversation, someone shrugs with pain and emits, "It is complicated."

I said to Knesset guy, "It isn't complicated at all. Why should one group be allowed to dominate the city with their noise?"He replied, "You cannot sit the Muslims down and deliberate with them. They only know how to dominate. They don't compromise. We have elected to give in to them, over and over, to appease them, because there is no other way."

I continued, "If they won't be reasonable, then why don't you tell them, "Look, if you don't turn off the electronic screaming, then we are going to mike up all the Jewish folks who are praying by the wailing wall. And we are going to mike up every Greek Orthodox, Armenian, Catholic and Christian service in the whole city and play all their services loudly around the clock. Every damn prayer that goes up from Jerusalem will be broadcast in one devout sonic boom."

And he said, "Well, if we did that, we would be just as bad as them."

Me again, "So, what do you do?"

Him: "We back down...and I suppose we hope eventually something will happen to change the dynamic."

Ah, the geopolitics of audacious hope. Good luck with that.