Hitchhiking in Israel by Bobbi Lerman

We reached the gates of Kfar Blum in an hour as promised. Hana and the children gave me hugs and kisses goodbye before I got out of the car. Rashad stayed in his seat as well, turning to look at me with a friendly smile and wish me well. Yusef walked me to the gate. I think he wanted to see me walk in. I knew he wanted to give me his lecture one more time. He did. Before going in I grasped his hand and squeezed. I repeated the word Shukran, over and over. Rashad had taught me how to say thank you in Arabic. Yusef nodded as if he had done nothing remarkable and turned back toward the running car. I watched them drive away.

I’m not sure I could find the village or if its even still there. I don’t know if Yusuf or Hana are alive. I have often wondered did they get to raise their children into adulthood? Did they get to see them married and have children of their own? I hope so. What I do know with absolute certainty is in the middle of one of the most long lasting and violent conflicts between two groups of people, this man did not give into the hate must have been born into from birth. He saw a human being who needed help. He chose to risk his own life and that of his family to do the right thing. Those five men could have been armed. I’m certain they could have easily found out where Yusef lived and taken retribution for his interference. I’m not sure they didn’t. Seeing me on the road, Yusuf had to know from his first look at me, I was not a Muslim woman. He probably thought from my dark, Mediterranean complexion, and dress I was Israeli. He still intervened. For me it was a lesson in the importance of seeing people as individuals, not as one homogenous group whom all feel and think the same way. Fanatics screaming their hate and call to violence are not all the people in any group. There is in the end very little in this world that is black in white,, most times all you have is varying shades of gray.

So many people are born into hate without even knowing why they hate. We are taught to see certain groups of people in a certain ways. We are taught to fear what’s different. We are taught to fear the others and to expect the worst from them. I have to wonder what would happen if we dumped our learned preconceptions of each other and simply began to talk, one person to another.

Too simple, I am sure they would tell me. Neither side would do it, I’m certain they would say. Maybe the answer is we all need to stop listening to the fear the “theys” running our governments work so hard to instill in us and begin seeing each other as individual human beings, some good, some bad, all of us unique.

Bobbi Lerman is a writer of historical romance, memoir and travel essay and founder of www.scribblersink.com, an online prompt writing community.

29 thoughts on “Hitchhiking in Israel by Bobbi Lerman”

  1. What a powerful story, Bobbi, and hard lesson learned. I am always grateful for my upbringing. I grew up in a middleclass neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY. The neighborhood consisted of everyone. Everyone equals, all nationalities, color and religions. It taught us from childhood that we are all alike. We each have families we love and want to protect and friends to cherish. I wish the world saw individuals, not ideals. I always said, “if we sent the politicans in to fight there would be no war. It is easy for them to send the young to fight their battles.”

    1. Thanks Marian.
      It’s strange what events will stay with you years later.
      Sounds like a nice place you grew up.
      I agree, if we sent the poiticians to fight, there would be a lot more negotiaiton and treaties vs war.

    1. Thanks Jenifer for stopping by.

      There are certain moments that will stay with you forever. I think the experiences one has while traveling is the best form of education when it comes to learning how to opening the mind and the heart.

    1. Hi Karen,

      Some stories stay within and you don’t think about them until a conversation, or an image triggers the memory. Israel was a wild, beautiful and interesting place!

    1. Thank you for stopping by Judy!
      My time spent living in Israel was most definately a life defining adventure. My experiences there changed the way I views the world and the people who inhabit our fragile planet.

  2. Wow Bobbi! You have such a story to tell. The most of us will only look at this conflict from one side, allowing the media or politicians to shape our perception. Now you add another though and experience to this knowledge we have and perhaps help broaden our thinking.

    1. I appreciate the feedback Joe.
      You’re right most people look at the mid-east conflict and see only one side as being totally right or totally wrong. They don’t see the people on either side and how complicated this seemingly never ending conflict has made their lives.

  3. I happened to be reading an article about Israel the other day on the Internet, about “The Law of Return,” which is the law that grants Jews from around the world the right to claim Israeli citizenship. Evidently, the Law of Return was amended in 1970 to include non-Jewish spouses. I told my non-Jewish spouse and he was amused. No, we don’t intend to claim Israeli Citizenship, but we definitely would love to visit and experience a taste of this Country, as you did. Well, maybe not exactly as you did. We would probably stay in a hotel versus a Kibbutz.

    1. Thanks Nina!
      I appreciate at the feedback and I’m glad you enjoyed the story. Israel was an amazing experience, some of it wonderful, some of it scary, but all of it interesitng! It is interesting what risks we will take when we are young and “imortal” isn’t it?

  4. Roberta, Quite the story. “So many people are born in hate without even knowing why they hate” tells it all. It’s so visual and poignant,like a Hitchcock movie, except that it really happened.

  5. Thanks Lloyd,
    I agree, hating period is a useless emotion that gains a person absolutely nothing.
    But, as I learned there are people who don’t give into it, which is what makes the world an astonishing place!

  6. Great story Roberta,
    I like your writing style, clear, concise, fast paced – it makes writing seem effortless :). My writing style is a bit slower, which makes my hitchhiking stories very boring, I might just learn a bit form this 😉

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