And now for some local horror.

I don’t miss the part of living in Katamon, in Jerusalem, when a Beitar game would be on.

Beitar Jerusalem fans are known for a right-wing/arse/loud/violent combination of stereotype.

This, though. This is disgustingly criminal. It’s been a bit buried in the papers – partly because it happened around the time of the France Jew murders, and partly because, well, it is not flattering and since when do Israeli papers post something that admits to this level of wrongness?

Hundreds of Beitar Jerusalem fans beat up Arab workers in mall; no arrests

Hundreds of Beitar Jerusalem supporters assaulted Arab cleaning personnel at the capital’s Malha shopping center on Monday, in what was said to be one of Jerusalem’s biggest-ever ethnic clashes.

Despite CCTV footage of the events, no one was arrested. Jerusalem police said that is because no complaint was filed. Witnesses said that after a soccer game in the nearby Teddy Stadium, hundreds of mostly teenage supporters flooded into the shopping center, hurling racial abuse at Arab workers and customers and chanting anti-Arab slogans, and filled the food hall on the second floor.

It’s not the first time Beitar fans have acted utterly stupid in the name of a game won or lost. There have been tramplings, stampedes. But this is a fit of violence that goes beyond a game.

I despise the violence that erupts from sports frustration or elation (ahem, Red Sox fans). And I despise even more when  hate crimes are done from within my own people to minorities living among us.

How short are our memories? How immature are our minds?

These fans were young – who hasn’t been teaching them?


(And by the way, Arutz Sheva, seriously? There’s camera footage and you’re saying fans ‘allegedly attacked Arabs’?)

Conflict management.

It’s probably only appropriate that at the graduation ceremony for Bar Ilan University’s Conflict Management and Negotiation program, I witnessed my first Israeli-Arab walkout.

I studied in the program the same years as a secularish Arab girl from around Uhm Al Fahm. She’s probably around my age, with an assertive nature and a big, warn smile – the kind that involves her eyes. She participated in class, she joked with the rest of us.

It was nice to see her at the ceremony. We nodded hellos and I noticed her family was present to support her – her religious-looking parents, her secular sisters and her little nephews. With one of her nephews, hanging around where I stood in the back of the room, I played peekaboo. He’s probably a few months older than Koala and just as charming.

As it always goes at the end of an Israeli ceremony, the musicians got ready to play Hatikva, and everyone stood. The Uhm Al Fahm clan stood… and politely, inconspicuously, walked out. As my classmate walked past, I looked up at her and matched her sigh-resembling smile.

Who am I? What do I believe? A degree in conflict management taught me a lot, but living in Israel taught me, perhaps, too much. Even if I left this country tomorrow, I could never go back to who I was before I lived here. I don’t know if it’s living next to the green line. Or that it’s become normal to occasionally shop alongside Israeli-Arabs, stand on line with Israeli-Arabs. I don’t know if it’s being exposed to a class of people who look just like me, only… only…

She chose to attend Bar Ilan, an openly religiously oriented and Zionist institution. She chose to do this degree, and she chose to participate in whatever she had to get to today. But she also chose not to go too far, not to stay for the national anthem. I suppose that’s conflict management after all: peace is a sleepy dream; conflict management is making choices.

Well, my term in Bar Ilan couldn’t have ended on a more appropriate note.

A true face of Jerusalem: the hospital waiting room.

Today I spent quite a bit of time in a Jerusalem hospital waiting room; no emergency, I just needed an x-ray. In the past few months, I’ve actually frequented Jerusalem hospital waiting rooms and have been fascinated by the faces I see and the languages I hear.

I think the true face of any city is its hospital waiting room. Conflict or none, from Belfast to Beirut, do people have much of a choice but to face each other in this neutral, undisputed territory?

Honestly, I’m not sure about those two cities, but in Jerusalem, the waiting room hosts a rainbow of Charedi Jews to secular Jews, Ashkenaz to Mizrachi, French, Russian and Ethiopian immigrants, international students and diplomats, religious and secular Arabs. You hear Hebrew spoken in so many accents, you wonder if it’s actually the same language.

Today I observed a couple of Arab women walk in with a small boy; one of the women was religious and one was not. The boy was young, maybe three, and clearly uncomfortable being there. He whined the way any child, no matter skin color nor religion, whines… The women accompanying him – the secular one seeming to be his mother – tried to hush him but to no avail.

Out of nowhere, an elderly woman came to him and started coaxing him Arabic-accented Hebrew to relax. She pulled from her bag the currency of which all children of every nation speak: crunchy snacks. She carefully poured the crackers into a cup for the boy and offered them to him: “Kach et ze, chamud. Ze b’seder. Tochel.”

Finally, the boy reached for the cup, and a chorus of Arabic flew from his mother and her companion: “Say thank you! Thank you! Shukran! Say shukran!” The older woman, who I realized was Mizrachi, spoke softly to the boy: “Yofee… Tochel, yeled tov. Tagid todah. To-dah. Tagid todah…”

This chorus of shukrans and todahs was not stopping, and soon I found that the Arab women were telling the boy to “Tagid todah,” while the Jewish woman was encouraging him to say “shukran!”

Language, faces, hospitals, kids, snacks. All undisputed territory when they work together.