Foreign Relations — “Necessary Stories” from The Jerusalem Report

Haim Watzman

“You never play your flute anymore.”

Yael and Aharon squeezed into a corner of the standing area by the rear door of the 34 bus, which smelled of exhaust and wet ponchos. Until last week they had gone down to Ben-Zakkai each Sunday and Wednesday to get the 4 alef to Mt. Scopus but now there was this new line that went to the university from Pierre Koenig Street, closer to home. The people were not the ones they were used to seeing. Bracing himself against the handrail as the bus made a sharp right onto Emek Refa’im, Aharon unshouldered his backpack and opened the zipper, removing a damp copy of an article called “Identity and Freedom” by Amartya Sen, which he should have read over the weekend. The floor was too soaked to put the backpack down and the space too cramped for him to get the straps back over his shoulder, so he wedged it between his back and the window and leaned against it.

  illustration by Avi Katz

 illustration by Avi Katz

“You never play the flute anymore,” Yael repeated, looking out at the rain.

The murkiness of the storm-clouded morning was broken by a lightning flash. Yael grabbed his wrist and the article fell to the floor. He cursed under his breath and, apologizing at each stage of descent as he bent down and pushed against the government workers, high schoolers, and nurses who stood around him, picked up the stapled papers, now stained dark with grimy water from umbrellas and boots. The thunder sounded and Yael grabbed his wrist again and put her head on his soggy shoulder.

“Were you talking to me?”

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Missing the Bus, or Milton Friedman’s Legacy

It’s Pesah, and the kids wanted to liberate Mom and Dad from their keyboards for a day of hiking, perhaps an overnight. We all have to leave our personal Egypts, after all. Nonetheless, I went back to screen, to check bus routes at the Egged bus site . Our family is among the holdouts, still living without a car. Once this was a normal Israeli lifestyle. Now it’s as strange as – say – being Orthodox and dovish. One might as well be Martian, or lack a cell phone. In town we walk, or take buses or cabs. I ride a bike. Occasionally, we rent a car for vacation, but to do that on Pesah, I would have to make a reservation before the tourists did, and pay way too much.

I thought of taking a hike I used to take with the kids, from Haifa University to Kibbutz Beit Oren in the middle of the Carmel forests and then down to the coast. My wife would have needed to skip the second half to get back to work. Once there was a bus from Beit Oren to Haifa. No longer,

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