The Hexacoto

Listening to the sound of one hand clapping

Tag: Israel

Through my eyes

imageedit_2_8380050066I walked in, hollow as a shell, into the floor of the Stella Maris monastery in Haifa, Israel. I took a seat in the pews in the back. Virgin Mary was on display, as waves after waves of people came to pay their respects and take pictures of her. Waves after waves of people washed in, genuflected, chanted, prayed, touched some monuments, took some selfies. I clammed up as fervour rose around me, rocked around as I waited for the rush to recede, flurry to fade. And then they washed out, and I was allowed to be hollow again.

And in my emptiness I was allowed to fill myself with feelings I had kept at bay.

And then the brine came — salt rinses, stings, preserves, cleanses. Virgin Mary looked upon me, face unchanging, witnessing a scene instead of being witnessed for a change.

Through my eyes, the tears tore through the tear that was tethered together too quickly, too haphazardly, and I was empty and ready to let them come.

Through my eyes, I am seeing sights you sought so much as you sailed in search of something significant other than what your life was.

Then let me be your eyes, for you are unable to see.

Because your eyes had been sewn shut.

[2 months]

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“They’re all brainwashed”

On the way back home early this morning, on the subway, this Israeli guy started talking to me.

“Hey! Are you from China?”

I said I was not.

“Japanese?”

I told him I was from Singapore.

“Oh I thought you might be Chinese or Japanese, you have the same eyes as my girlfriend,” and he proceeded to tug the sides of his eyes, “She’s half-Japanese, half-Italian, and your eyes are similar. I love my girlfriend, but I disagree with what she believes in.”

Casual racism aside, I asked, “What do you mean?”

She was a teacher who taught in a school for Arabs, he said. As a result, she sympathises with the plight of the Arabs in the whole Israel-Palestine conflict, and takes the sides of the Arabs in the country instead of the Jews, which he is.

“She says things that are crazy, just like the rest of them,” he said, “They’re all brainwashed.”

I thought it was funny that he should say that, because the Arabs in the country probably thought the same of the Jews. In fact, a couple months ago, I got to meet a recent immigrant from Israel who echoed the same sentiments, almost verbatim.

“The Arabs will not hesitate to take over Israel if they could,”

“They’re all brainwashed from young into believing their nonsense,”

“You give them a little, they keep wanting more. They’re not satisfied with equality,”

These were some of the sentiments that both the Israeli men, whom I met several months apart, echoed, almost word for word. It was as if they were reciting from something learnt in the past.

Then, the guy on the subway asked me,

“So, whose side do you take? What are your views on this issue?”

I opted for the safe path and said, “It is not in my place to comment; I’ll let them Jews and Arabs, Israeli and Palestinians work it out.”