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The Israel Diaries

by Megan Lillis
Joyjobs.com Member

October 13, 2000

Hello friends and family,

So you've all heard about the craziness here in the last two days…
Israel bombed the West Bank city of Ramallah in relation for the killing of the 4 Israeli soldiers and the terrorist attack on the USS Cole off the coast in Yemen, has put Americans on alert here. 

School was canceled today just-- a precautionary measure,
although the situation seems grave.  Some families are leaving voluntarily. It's hard to say what will happen day by day, hour by hour. 

Yesterday morning I was talking to some teachers about the apparent calming of the situation, and by the afternoon the school was buzzing with the enfolding events.




 "School is scheduled to resume on Monday and it seems it will."

All in a matter of hours. Who knows what the situation will be like when I wake up tomorrow. I don't want to sound overly dramatic about the situation, but I know when teachers who have lived in Israel for 25 years are saying this is the worse they've ever seen it, it's bad. Then this morning the news of the British Embassy explosion in Yemen was on the TV. 

We have a phone tree system in place for emergencies or situations like these where certain teachers call others and so on down the line. 

Not only did our assigned teacher call us, but three other teachers and one support staff member to se how we were fairing and
just touch base. It was really good feeling to know that so many people are looking out for each other.

Today a bunch of the new teachers had lunch together. Some are more worried than others, but it definitely benefited us all to get together and chat about things. 

School is scheduled to resume on Monday, and it seems like it will. Otherwise, nothing new to speak of. I'm not barricaded in my apartment and hiding under the kitchen table. I still feel safe in my surroundings.

I'm probably not going to take the bus to Tel Aviv to go to any open market areas, which are the things I like to do on the weekends. There are good and bad points about being isolated here in this little town.  Other than that it's sit around and wait. All for now.

Take care, Megan


October 10, 2000

I just wanted to send an email to let you all know that I have not seen a glimpse of the violence that is shown on the news.

Everything is still okay here in Tel Aviv. We just had a faculty meeting and the superintendent continues giving us the current low
down. He's going to a meeting with the US Embassy community tonight, so we should know more tomorrow. I don't think it will come to evacuation, but the school will not hesitate to send us home if there is any real threat to Americans. 

So far the embassy has put out travel advisories. the borders to the west bank and Gaza are sealed. Basically stay out of Arab neighborhoods and Jerusalem and avoid public buses.

The embassy is always overly cautious though, their personnel are forbidden to travel now.  Although, the reality of things are very different from what it appears to be on TV. 

One teacher here lives in the old city and takes the bus to and from school every day. She told me this morning after I asked that she had no problems going about her routine. 

The closest I've come to witnessing anything of consequence was last night when some Israelis were demonstrating at the mosque near our house. 

We could hear them chanting and then the police started coming to protect it. my roommate and I walked up there to check it out. we observed from a distance with some other Israelis whose houses are directly next to it. 

It was mainly a demonstration. A lot of retaliation by the Israeli Jews seems to be surfacing now. They destroyed a mosque in the north this weekend in retaliation for all the destruction by Arabs. It's a pretty big deal with what they did to Joseph's tomb and some synagogues. But this whole thing is a big deal.

So, what i know now is that the deadline has been extended to end the violence by Barak, or else the peace process will end and things will become more threatening. The biggest issue right now is the capture of the three Israeli soldiers at the border of Lebanon by the Hezbollah gorillas. From what I hear, if they don't return them safely, Israel will not hesitate to bomb Beirut. 

The mood of the school is serious, but it is also a very safe place. all entrances but one are locked and there is a guard service to monitor the coming and goings of everyone, preventing anyone outside of the community from entering. I feel very safe here and in
my neighborhood.

Monday was Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for all Jews where they fast all day and no driving happening (for the most part) throughout the country. So, we had a three day weekend and i traveled with a friend to the dead sea, against better judgment, depending on who you talk to (one person backed out). 

We rented a car to avoid the buses and Jerusalem and took the southern route to avoid the West Bank (which we had no choice in the matter of).

I called the kibbutz we stayed at ahead of time to confirm the
safety of the road and area. they assured me that it was fine and police would be out, though we hardly saw any police or military presence. From the time we arrived on the kibbutz until the time I was able to leave after sundown last night, we were totally oblivious. 

The channel listing in our room included BBC, but of course we didn't get it. The news papers available there were all in Hebrew, so the only information we had was from a worker at the front desk on Sunday afternoon and a Jordanian news report in French that my friend was able to understand. 

It seemed like things were still in an uproar, but no immediate danger affected our traveling home. Then I came home and discovered all that I had missed! 

The Dead Sea was amazing though! I went to a spa and rubbed mud all over myself and then soaked in a sulphur pool. But before this we went to Massada, the ancient fort high on a plateau in the desert canyon--very cool. 

After this is when we checked into the kibbutz and went to the spa. The next day we hiked around at the nature reserve in the canyon and hung out in some waterfall pools. We didn't have much time to explore since the entire country was closing at noontime on Sunday. We returned to the kibbutz and lounged at the pool. 

Meals at the kibbutz were good and the atmosphere was relaxing. The entire place was like an oasis in the middle of the desert with lush, beautiful botanical gardens throughout. there was a very weird group of Germans staying there also, who all had shaved heads and I am convinced are part of a cult. anyway...

Photos of Jerusalem by Megan Lillis

Fall 2000.

Click to enlarge.

J1.jpg (28726 bytes)

J2.jpg (38036 bytes)

J3.jpg (23139 bytes)


Yesterday is when we hiked onto the cliffs of the canyon via the back entrance to the nature reserve in the kibbutz. I thought we would be able to hike all the way down into the nature reserve, but it turned out to be way too far and very hot! We made it to the top, checked out the view and headed down, feeling the effects of sunstroke! We made it to the pool and hung out there for the remainder of the day until it was ok to drive.

Whew! sorry that was so long winded. congratulations if you made it through this one.  I'll be sending more pictures as soon as i get them developed. take care all and, I'll keep you posted...

Love, Megan



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