Hadassah, Again

Our second day at Hadessah started a bit earlier, and we had the privilege to pass the Kalandia checkpoint to Jerusalem during the morning rush. Thousands of Palestinians trying to get to work in Jerusalem must get thru this oppressive gateway. They are funneled into steel cattle shutes, and must wait while 2 or 3 are allowed thru the turnstiles every few minutes. There is no urgency in the young soldiers conducting the screening. Presenting a passport and visa without any baggage is no assurance of easy clearance. The extra screening and examination seems random and irregular.

On the other hand, the young Israeli soldier-ettes smiled at me through the bulletproof glass while they “inspected” my passport. If they liked me, I can only imagine what they thought of Mike. He’s probably lucky they didn’t pull him in for extra questioning. But we made it to Hadassah, and discovered we all love Israeli coffee. Get a latte from the Hillel Café. You won’t regret it.

Today Mike and I watched a couple TEEs (transesophageal echocardiogram) along with one of the medical students from Hebrew University. He (Ben) told us about spending a month in Philadelphia doing an ER rotation. It was difficult for him to arrange at first, and despite having his paperwork arranged, he couldn’t get permission from the school. But then he called a Jewish Dean at the school, who was able to grease the treads for Ben. This story hits close to home, since our own trip would never have happened if Harb did not have such wonderful relationships in Palestine.

Ben did his required Israeli military service for three years starting in 2001. He was only in training for one day before they put a rifle in his hands and put him on the line to defend his military base. This was when the second intifada swung into full gear. So he has his own unique experience of the occupation and conflict. Ben was a friendly guy, and quick to answer our questions. That being said, I felt the students at Hadessah were more reserved around us. I don’t know if it was just discomfort with our recent Palestinian exposure, but our residence in Ramallah elicited a good share of suspicious looks.


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