God asks Rich for Advice
I recently received a one way ticket to heaven, where I was given a very handsome consulting contract by God Almighty, who wanted my take on what’s going on in the Holy-land. In case you missed the broadcast, here is the transcript.
God: Welcome sons and daughters. I have called this special counsel today, including all the angels in heaven, to listen to one of the world’s pre-eminent minds as well as one of its famous explorers, Rich Birecki. The reason I’ve called him here is that I was shocked to learn that over the last 60 years, there has been a preponderance of murders, war, and general unhappiness created by all the fighting and posturing over the land now called Israel. Since it seems I have been asleep at the proverbial switch, I thought I would bring Rich in here to help me out, and let me know how I could do a better job.
Rich: No problemo God. That’s what I do, I solve problems.
God: Of course. So, tell me about your trip to Israel.
|Yoni, Zuzka and I having walked across border|
God: How much longer was it?
Rich: Another forty-five minutes.
God: And if you hadn’t known Yoni?
Rich: A week … Look, I don’t begrudge the Israelis for making it tough for people to enter, there are a lot of crazies that would love to get inside Israel and do harm to innocent people … So from the border, we hiked like a kilometer to the main road in hopes of hitchhiking, which Yoni told me was common and simple in Israel. Well, maybe not so simple when you have three people plus luggage. After a half-hour, I thought it would be easier for us all if I found my own way.
God: So what happened?
Rich: Well, my goal was to get to Eliat, which was only a few kilometers away, so I hailed a passing cab. “Where are you going?” asks the cabbie. “Eliat,” I respond. He rolls up his window without a word and drives off in the opposite direction. So my first impression of Israelis is, “Oh my God, what pricks. I mean, they barely let me into their country, and now this.”
God: Is it fair to judge any country by their cab drivers?
Rich: I might as well just start walking, I head on down the road. I walk maybe a quarter kilometer, and this car pulls over up ahead. It’s an Israeli couple. “What are you doing walking with all that stuff? Get in, get in, we’ll take you to Eliat.” These two were jovial, warm, and kind. Suddenly my opinion reverses course. If everybody’s this warm, who could hold anything against the Israelis.
God: And the final verdict?
Rich: Suffice to say for now that really kind, nice, warm people also exist there. So, they drive me to Eliat and drop me off at the bus station, where, with a little difficulty, I book a ticket to go float on the Dead Sea. The most notable thing I saw while waiting was a female Israeli soldier holding a rifle while eating. I am told that each member of the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) is issued a rifle. Lose it, and you go to jail. Guns are ubiquitous throughout the Middle East, it definitely takes some getting used to. Eventually the bus driver drops me off at the Dead Sea resorts area. Israelis are impatient people, he almost took off before I could get my suitcase out of the luggage compartment which would have been a disaster. I had to pound and yell as he started to move to get him to stop.
God: Why do they call it the Dead Sea?
Rich: Because the concentration of salt in the water allows for no life. In fact, as water sources, like the Jordan River, dry up in the Middle East, this inland body of salt water is deprived of fresh water to replace that which evaporates. The sea is shrinking in size every year; the Dead Sea is dying … So there I am, with my big suitcase and backpack, and I don’t want to take the suitcase to the beach, so I walk into one of the expensive hotels, and I’m figuring out how to sneak my case into the luggage room, when I get approached by a bold 15 year old Israeli who asks me where I come from. Of course, he loves that I’m American and immediately offers me his help. Waving his hand, “Come, let me show you where the luggage room is.” I follow him, and place my suitcase in the unlocked room. Then I remove my fanny pack, not quite sure what to do with it. Sensing this, he inquires, “What do you have in there?” I answer, “Passport, money.” “Oh no, you don’t leave that here, we Jewish people, we love money very much.”
God: He didn’t!
Rich: Oh he did. Just like that, indicts his whole country.
Rich: I took it with me. It was 50/50 he was going to through my suitcase if I left my cash inside. So I go down to Dead Sea and wade in. The water has a slimy, viscous feeling to it; actually for the same reason you don’t want to ingest any of the water, because of ultra-high concentration of salt. I suppose swallowing Dead Sea water is equivalent to swallowing the contents of a tall salt shaker. Not exactly good for you. On the plus side, you can experience what it’s like to be a cork. You float. It’s quite a paradigm shift because normally you fall back into the ocean, you expect to sink; here, you almost bounce off the water like a basketball on a gym floor.
(check me out floating on the Dead Sea)
God: Did you try skipping a stone on the water?
Rich: My one regret, it would have likely ended up back in Jordan. So, I get out of the Dead Sea, and I start talking with 4 twenty-five year old Israelis, who have fairly recently completed their required service in the Israeli Army. Every single one of them is super cool, very real, and down to earth. It’s a pleasure speaking to them.
God: What did you speak about?
Rich: Life in Israel, which for them basically is pretty chill now that they are done with the army. When they thought it would come to Palestine/Israel, on the notion of peace, Gil, one of the soldiers looked down at the ground and said, “not in my lifetime.” I asked him why. Though he remained hopeful that his generation was different, he told me there were still too many people on both sides who simply didn’t want peace, the odds of this going up as age of the individual increases. On the whole, they were a very friendly bunch. They even invited me to come to the concert of a famous reggae artist from New York City, who it turns out is an orthodox Jew, and hugely popular in Israel.
God: Did you go?
Rich: Well, my natural inclination when presented with such offers is to say “yes,” and this time was no exception. The complication was there was no way that my suitcase would fit in their car, we tried. I thought about leaving it at the hotel, but they weren’t coming back here, and the concert was supposed to be sold out, so I decided it would be better if I were to head up the road to Jerusalem—
God: So where’s the spice you're so famous for? You haven’t said anything all that controversial.
Rich: Well, let me tell you about Jerusalem. I’m just afraid after hearing what I have to say, the Jews might nail me to the cross ... I'll pause now, so that I might live another couple days ...