Tuesday, July 25, 2017

And that's about it for Israel

"Get to the airport three hours before your flight," they advise.


The first security check ("For what purpose did you visit Israel?  Did anyone give you any packages to take back?  You understand why I'm asking this, right?") went by fairly quickly, and the check-in desk for my flight was not yet open, so there was quite a bit of standing in front of the desk, watching the British Airways shift-change, and trying to look bored, but not annoyed.

(There was a flight leaving 2 hours before mine.  Those folks could get immediately checked in, as they had to run.  A group of about 7 rush the desk, desperate to check in.  There was bad news:  the flight had already closed; there was worse news:  they had bypassed the security check, so couldn't even be moved to the later flight until they'd gone back and cleared security.  I am watching this unfold.  A few minutes later, the person politely waiting in line behind me quietly asks, "Did you clear security?"  (Yes.)  "Where is it?")

So, after they allowed me check in, I cleared passport control (automated) and the usual metal detector/carry-on screening.  (Which did not seem nearly as intense as what the TSA does.  Either they don't give a damn what you take OUT of the country, or the promised "security measures you never see" are going on behind the scenes.)  Made a brief tour through the Duty Free and the Judaica store, and ended up in the British Airways lounge (to the left of what looked like a Chabad ... recruitment desk?  tefillin loan station?  Honestly, I didn't ask) where I am the ONLY person (in the lounge, that is).  Am enjoying the free tea (and wifi) but am truly wondering Where The Fuck Everyone Is.

Back to yesterday:  we drove into Jerusalem for a tour of the Israeli Supreme Court.  The building was genuinely lovely (aside to my co-workers:  the Reagan building should be ashamed of itself).

We also got an introduction to the Israeli court system in which my court does not exactly have a counterpart. (Non-lawyers can just skip the rest of this paragraph.) They got their magistrate's courts (for low-value civil matters and low-exposure crimes -- but not as low as what we did in muni court); then district courts above that (unlimited civil and higher-value crimes; also handles appeals from magistrate court -- seems very like our superior court); and the Supreme Court is right above THAT.  They're a 15-member court, but never sit all together -- they sit in panels ranging from 1 (seriously) to 13, depending on the significance of the case.  I imagine that in 3-judge panels handing appeals from district court, they're rather like our court, and in larger panels rather like our Supreme Court -- but where things really get wacky is that they have original jurisdiction over any matter in which an individual (or organization, read: ACLU-type) brings a complaint against a governmental entity believing their rights have been violated.  (I expect that's when they get single judge panels most often.)  I tried to picture what it would be like in the U.S. if supreme court justices had to hear every single action under 42 USC 1983, and my brain kind of exploded.  (And while, yeah, totally impractical in a country of our size, and they'd never get any other work done, one wonders if resolution of those cases DAILY wouldn't have a positive effect on the justices themselves, getting them out of the ivory tower and making them more aware of the problems of the little guys.)

(And we pause for more tea.)

After the court, we drove over to a market.  (Imagine what you think a street market in Jerusalem looks like.  It looks like that.)  We weren't really there for the market, but for a nearby restaurant.  We were eventually directed to the restaurant, but we deemed it too loud for our last lunch together -- we wouldn't have been able to have any conversation over the music.  We looked for another place -- but it was hot as fuck and we just needed a place with food and air conditioning and we weren't too picky.

We saw a likely candidate across the street and stepped inside.  Turns out about 90% of their menu was a Syrian-Kurdish meat pie thingy called Shamburak.  (I googled it.  I hit this article which is actually about the restaurant we ate at.)

When we'd finished, we decided we needed to top this off with baklava from the market.  We went back to the market and found a baklava guy.  (It is not difficult to find a baklava guy at the market.)  We bought a plate of several different types, and Baklava Guy sent us over to Coffee Guy, so we could have some hot beverages and sit in the shade while enjoying our baklava.

The Coffee Guy, btw, is NOT what you expect in a street market in Jerusalem.  Off one of the side passageways, his shop is PRISTINE.  Wood panels on the walls, different types of coffee lining the place, various grinders, coffee presses, an espresso machine ... whatever the fuck people use to make coffee.  I'm a tea girl myself, and dude was able to brew me up a nice cup of Assam with a splash of milk.  (His shop would be at home with the avocado-toast eaters in the upscale market in Tel Aviv.)

Despite the Britishness of my tea, this seemed the most Israeli thing we did -- it was also special in its way.  Crowded around a little table, surrounded by shops in the market overflowing with goods, chowing down on some heavenly baklava, and sipping our hot beverages of choice -- this was in some way the epitome of my experience of Israel this trip -- Old World Middle Eastern intersecting with New World Western, with a big dose of family love.

1 comment:

Maxene Perlmutter said...

such a nice description ...