So Alexandre is really good at getting people to open up to him. On Najib's first day, Alexandre took him out to get a tour of the school and the hospital. By the time they came back, they were already chummy chums and discussing Najib's opinions on the current political climate in Israel.
We all had a nice long talk comparing our countries. Here are some things I learned about Israel:
- Najib personally doesn't feel any particular alliance to either side of the conflict (Arab vs. Jewish, basically). His family is culturally Arab but the majority culture is Jewish, and he is not Muslim; he says that seprates him from a lot of the side-choosing.
- He says that the media (especially in Israel, but obviously not on Al-Jazeera) always portrays Israel as a victim, and only discusses the attacks on Israel, but that Israel also instigates a lot of problems and kills a lot of civilians.
- He said that the government really forces people to put themselves in boxes based on religion, and that every survery/questionarre asks you, and that laws are constantly changing trying to be sure that all religions have equal rights (but that Jewish people always get more rights). He said that sometimes people date people from other religions, but that the families and society really cause problems with it. We compared this to the situation with race in America.
- He said that the fighting is stressful and causes a lot of tension, but that it actually doesn't affect day-to-day life very much for people who don't live on the Gaza strip.
- He said that the vast majority of people want the governments to come to an agreement without fighting, mostly because the wars waste so much money on the military that could be used for schools and hospitals (also sounds familiar!). He doesn't, however, see any solution over Jerusalem that would make everyone happy, so he doesn't think the fighting's going to stop any time soon.
I'm posting these opinions on here because his opinions didn't seem too one-sided (probably unlike the ones I gave about the US); he explained both the good and bad of Israel and the surrounding countries. He was really happy to share with us and said that if we had any other questions that we didn't have to be shy about asking. We told him that he could have the same open-ness with us.
In short, we're basically starting our own faction of the UN in our apartment. We've got 5 languages between us and 3 pacifists. Sounds promising!
Short updates: The visa stuff is going okay (this is our last week to get it sorted out! :-O ); I secured another student at home (a friend of a student); and a few others have mentioned friends who want classes, but I don't count those until they're "certinho"; the cat has learned how to crawl inside the couch and is destroying it from the inside out, and we are powerless to stop her (until we buy duct tape, at least).
Vanidosa update: I weighed myself at a scale in the shopping mall this weekend. I've lost 14 pounds since I got here in April. I'm almost down to the weight that's written on my license. ;) haha. Every woman's goal, right?
So if any of you have any questions for Najib, I can pass them along for you!
Thanks for reading!