Overload

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis happens some times, when I’ve seen too much, when I’ve heard too much. I come down the stairs, turn left across the street, and it hits, like a wave of vertigo and amnesia at the same time: I realize, with a small panic, that I can’t remember where I am. What country. The US? No, no, the sounds are all wrong. Africa – no, the faces don’t match: Arab, semitic, not black. North Africa, I wonder, briefly, but remember that I’ve never been there. I’ve almost settled on Turkey – there are smells I remember from Istanbul, but then I stop and recount the day. Jerusalem – I’m back in Jerusalem.

I don’t think I’m ready to write about what we’ve seen today, what we’ve walked through, and who we’ve spoken with. There’ve been some heartbreaking stories, along with those of bravery, kindness and compassion from all sides. In the past 48 hours we’ve seen and spoken with a bewildering Rubic’s cube of humanity: Ethiopian immigrants in Kiryat Malachi, trying their best to assimilate into an utterly alien culture, Bedouins in Rahat, in the Negev, not city-dwellers by choice. We’ve walked the ghost town streets of Hebron, the bustle of Ramallah, graveyard of Budrus. Spoken to soldiers, settlers and Palestinians. Seen hooded, rock-slinging young men and sullen, machine-gun-toting joggers. Seen the graves of murderers and the graves of children. On both sides. And heard the words of hope, of reconciliation from parents and heard the laughter, the innocent, healing laughter of their own children everywhere. It’s been a little too much – give me some time.

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