from beirut to boise…or, a trip to the land of pregnant men

The journey from Beirut to Boise was long and strenuous in many respects. There was the flight, of course, which I spent sleeping thanks to a fabulous last night in Beirut celebrating a birthday with friends. Then there were two days spent with family and friends in my hometown of Los Angeles where I was inundated with Chabad signs up and down the boulevard near my grandmother’s house. And then there was the 16 hour drive from Los Angeles to Boise. I left at night so as to avoid congestion around major cities and because I had too much work awaiting me in Boise and I needed to return. The drive, aside from the $427 speeding ticket I received in Oregon (because there was no one on the road, I had to pee, and I was desperately searching for a restroom), was increasingly depressing the closer I got to Idaho. From the agribusiness that lines the state routes and highways from California through Nevada, Oregon, and Idaho (Simplot headquarters is located here) to the prisons that dot the landscape to the adsforgod.org praising Jesus (in Nevada) the landscape looked bleak. Then there were the signs of occupation, in addition the prisons housing the brown folk in America’s form of modern-day slavery, as I passed Shoshone and Piute reservations as well as signs for Lewis and Clark monuments. And the signs of increasing Mormonism the closer I got to Idaho such as Zion Park or the “Jordan Valley” (which looks nothing like Jordan whatsoever except for the sage plants dotting the desert highway). The Jordan Valley is apparently populated with a Basque community. I wonder whether these people have any connection to Basque resistance (just searching for signs of resistance, hence signs of hope). The worst was the monument “welcoming” me back into Boise which never ceases to horrify me: Boise’s “human rights” memorial featuring Anne Frank. Please, someone explain to me just what Anne Frank has to do with Idaho? For a state that barely has enough Jews to populate one synagogue (thank god) I would think that a memorial that is serious about human rights would deal with an issue affecting the local population, say the Native people who are living on reservations, who resisted colonial domination? Welcome back to Amrika. Not really.

The feeling here leaves me numb, feeling like I need to be a recluse. It’s difficult for me to deal with the intensity of the culture shock this time. My body is even rejecting this place as I have been unable to properly digest the food let alone the politics, the culture, the people. It seems as if in my absence everyone drank the koolaid. They all seem to either buy into Bush’s agenda/propaganda or they just live their lives oblivious to what is going on around them. They seem to be consuming endlessly in order to escape dealing with the reality that this government is contributing to massacres around the world. Or to the homelessness of its own people in places like the areas devastated by hurricane Katrina (people still homeless, homes still not rebuilt 2 years later). The obesity here is so obscene that there is an inordinate number of men walking down the streets of Boise, Idaho who look as if they could be pregnant. Their bodies are otherwise normal, but their bellies are literally so large it appears as if they are 9 months pregnant.

This is my life. This can’t be my life. How can it be that I am living in a land filled with people who do not have a clue about Nahr el Bared? That would rather deal with the minutia of bureaucratic bulls*&^ than with the realities affecting real people who suffer? True there are people everywhere, including in places in Lebanon, Jordan, and yes even in Palestine, who just want to ignore suffering and live their lives. But at least in these places there is serious resistance. And this is what I cannot live without. It makes it so much easier to get up in the morning knowing that you live in a space populated with people active in or supporting a serious resistance movement. Where is (is there any?) the American resistance movement that is actively working to halt American-Israeli imperialism?

6 thoughts on “from beirut to boise…or, a trip to the land of pregnant men

  1. (i love your humor!)

    Marcy: what is happening on the reservations in Idaho?

    remember: acts of resistance are tied. the importance is to resist, to believe we can resist

  2. Dr. Newman,

    Having read a few of your blog entries, I’ve noted your strong stance against racism. Yet, this part of this blog entry stopped me cold.

    “Please, someone explain to me just what Anne Frank has to do with Idaho? For a state that barely has enough Jews to populate one synagogue (thank god) …”

    The “Anne Frank in Idaho” is a weird juxtaposition to be sure. But the part where you “thank god” there aren’t enough Jews in Idaho to fill a synagogue is troubling.

    I thought your objection to Israel was rooted in its political origin and policy towards Palestinians–that you were anti-zionist, not ant-semitic. How does a self-proclaimed opponent of racism defend a statement like the one I quoted above?

  3. I’m sorry to ruin your day, but Idaho’s Jewish population sustains at least five synagogues I know of, and four rabbis. Would you be opposed to a Rachel Corrie Monument for Human Rights? Members of the group she tried to protect are few and far between in Idaho. And I don’t see you complaining about the existence of the Black History Museum, for a community which has far lower representation in the Gem State.

    P.S. I was reading down the page, and congratulations on ascending from anti-Zionism to accusing the Jews of 9/11!

  4. DarkProvost wrote:P.S. I was reading down the page, and congratulations on ascending from anti-Zionism to accusing the Jews of 9/11!

    Pondering Israeli involvement in, or foreknowledge of, the events of 9∙11 can quite naturally be assimilated to an anti-Zionist view. Equating Israeli nationalism with Jewish values makes less sense — at least in this day and age. Equating Zionism with Judaism makes the least sense.

    If Israelis had anything to do with 9∙11, then the culprits certainly weren’t being fine representatives of world Jewry, now were they?

    So give the old canard card a rest, will ya? There are no bigots, self-haters, or anti-Semites on this blogspot; that is, unless you’re harboring disdain for Arabs, Sephardi, or other Semitic peoples. But of course you wouldn’t show yourself in here as such if you were, now would you?

  5. First of all, detainthis, I think that Dr. Newman would agree with me than the Ashkenazi are quite Semitic (although I don’t wish to be presumptuous). I’ve had quite enough about conspiracy theories concerning the Jews of Eastern Europe. Second of all, I didn’t say anti-semite, I said anti-Zionist, what are you talking about?

  6. “… I didn’t say anti-semite, I said anti-Zionist, what are you talking about?”

    I never said you did, though I can see how it could be perceived as me implying as much.

    I don’t want to paint you as some evil person or troublemaker. After all, we’re all humans who need to be understood. But you accused her of “ascending from anti-Zionism to accusing the Jews of 9/11” — an insidious claim which lacks further clarification.

    I think you should substantiate your charge or withdraw it altogether. Of course you could do nothing, and things might be just as well. After all, “sticks and stones…”

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