That Confounded Bridge


My Palestinian colleague is going back to Jerusalem this weekend. When I was there with him a few months ago, I wrote about what that involves, but I didn’t mention that he was strip searched three times while I waited for him on the other side of the bridge crossing. At the end of an email exchange in which I expressed my concern about him crossing the border again, he wrote:

“Steadfastness ‘Somod’ as we say is a good peaceful weapon. When I feel disempowered, I think of others who experienced harder situations and kept strong along with my believes in justice, freedom, dignity, and integrity. I will need to find ways to express my rage, although I always believed in constructive actions that can bring change. In solidarity!”

There are parallels between his and Vince’s situations, not least of which, they’re about the same age.

I went through a long process of change when I was sent to the Palestinian Territories for work. My first reaction was, “Are you F—ing kidding? I’m Jewish!” [Since Vince is no longer at Moose Lake, surrounded by skinheads and brothers of the Nation of Islam, I can say that.)

Over a period of six months, “my thinking evolved,” as Barak Obama said about his position on gay marriage. I found some like-minded Jewish American activists who saw no problem with holding Israel to high standards. My rabbi said, “Maybe God thinks you’re the one to do this.” I don’t know about that, since I don’t believe in god and I can’t see myself as some sort of messiah—to the Palestinians! But he didn’t think I was a traitor to my people, that was a huge relief to me.

I could write volumes about this, but for this blog I’ll just say that I credit all my work in Alanon for helping me develop an open mind, a radar that tells me I’m in denial, and a willingness to try anything to feel better and get clarity. I am so glad I went on the trip. I could have easily refused to go, and missed a life-changing opportunity.

I moved less than a week after returning from that trip. That was two months ago, and now I will move again in three weeks. Yes, I found a condo to buy just a few weeks after I moved into my new apartment. Sometimes timing just isn’t great. But an unexpected benefit is that I won’t have to have the conversation with my landlord about Vince moving in.

In fact, when I called my landlord to find out about getting a subletter to finish out my lease, she told me the person would have to have 2.5 times income to rent, “and of course we don’t want any felons!” she laughed. She said it so lightly. She obviously isn’t related to any of the 47,000 ex offenders in Minnesota.

VINCE: [Ms. Maertz: Good news about getting the condo.  I know it’s nice to have a glass of wine or a beer in your own home.  But if you do while I’m there, I will get sent back to Moose Lake for 18 months.  So decide now if you think I should look for another residence. Love, Vince]

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