Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Rolling down Highway 1 on Eged bus 480 and some unknown rate, but surprisingly fast as we've managed to get a bit of luck (no traffic). The Judean foothills surrounding us, above us, below us, those small mountains covered in pines, olive trees, eucalyptus, the meditteranian brush. Flashes of red roofed towns marking the way between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The hourly news report ends, talk about the Israeli strike against a terrorist training camp in Syria, world response, washingtons response, radiohead comes on. Sitting next to me is 88 year old Yossef Tamir, my grandmothers cousin. He left Russia with his parents when he was 8 years old to come to Palestine. He remembers everything. I can barely remember my phone number (in all fairness, the only time i use the regular phone is to call to the US).

So I listen to stories about my family, british mandate palestine, israel...all intertwined. It's enough to forget about the craziness for a while. The stories are great, and he knows how to tell them. So i'll share one.

Yosef's father was a doctor, they lived in Petach Tikva, at the time the largest moshav in palestine. moshav being a jewish settlement. it was built surrounded by arab villages, and he was a doctor to all the arabs in the surrounding villages. They called him Abu Yussef. When he died he was buried on the mount of olives in jerusalem. the mount, along with rest of the city was lost after the war of independence, and then regained after the 6 days war in 1967. a few days after the war yossef and his son Nati went to the mount of olives. the arabs had taken all the tombstones and used them to build what is now the intercontinental hotel. yossef's fathers headstone was left untouched. eerie.

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