Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Michael waits in line to vote....

Today, I voted for the first time. It was very exciting. The polling place was at the local York fire station between the main and west campuses of my university. The line of people waiting to vote stretched around the block. I waited for one and a half hours. Since I had finished all my classes in the morning, I wasn't worried about time issues. I brought the book "From Beirut to Jerusalem" (which I wrote about in the previous post) from the local library, so I won't get bored. The elderly couple behind me asked me what book I was reading so I showed them the front cover. Then they started telling me about the time they visited Beirut in '74. They wanted to visit before things started to blow up. They told me that they spoke with an Arab at a local restaurant who spoke perfect English and wore traditional Arab garb. He said that they were the first tourists he saw all day.

Eventually they mention something about the "turmoil in Israel." I didn't know what exactly that meant so I started talking about the coming Israeli election in January. They asked me who I like and I said I didn't know, just not Netanyahu. I told them how they he was a "hawk" and less likely to make peace with the Palestinians. Then the elderly woman told me how "God gave the land to the Jews" and how the Arabs want to kill us. "It said so in the Old Testament." I didn't want to confront her on the whole God thing so I just told her that we need to make peace with the Palestinians, they need a place to live too, and how we need to find willing peace partners from among the Palestinians. She asked me if I was Jewish, I told her I was Israeli. At this point I start to realize that she might be a Bible-believing Christian-American who supports Israel.

Eventually she spoke about how it says in Ezekiel that the Russians and Arabs are going to attack the "Land of Israel" from the north. And about how they made an alliance. She said that the signs are there and the prophecies are being fulfilled. She also said that God is going to defeat them and that the Jews are going to realize that God is protecting them (which I interpreted as Jews accept Jesus). I finally realized I'm talking to a Fundamentalist Christian, perhaps an Evangelical. I should have asked her if she knew that Israel's founders were atheists. I thought old people were supposed to be wise and smart. I no longer hold that view. Old people can be just as dumb as young people. I told her that I don't believe in prophecies after the prophet has died.

In conclusion, when you start talking about the Middle East with Americans, you just don't know how insane people are going to get. There are fanatics on both sides, Hamas/Hezbollah/Iran vs. settlers/Christian fundementalists.

Note: This was all going on while a man was playing guitar and singing about Jesus outside the polling place.

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