I was privileged to join the celebration of the wedding of the son of one of our good friends. Our friend lives near us in Haifa and the wedding was to take place in the village where her son lives outside of Jerusalem – almost a 2 hour drive. Our friend hired a bus to take all of her friends to the wedding.
Israelis know how to celebrate. Maybe they have so many problems that they really know how to appreciate happy occasions. But whatever the reason, the evening was very special. The location, in the green hills outside of Jerusalem was magical. The food was plentiful and delicious. The music was great and everyone on the dance floor was filled with joy. It felt like the love of the young couple was shared by all of us.
But my story is not about the wedding. My story is about the bus ride home.
You see, the winding road leading to the party was very narrow. Our bus driver parked on the side of the road about a kilometer away from the party. Yet so many people came to the party that when it was time for us to leave, the bus was blocked in. If the bus went an inch left, it would have fallen off the side of the hill. If the bus went an inch right, it would scrape against the cars that had blocked us in. No matter how we tried to squeeze our way up the narrow road, there was no way forward. There was no way backward. We were simply stuck.
Other people were trying to leave the wedding and drive home as well. They were stuck behind our bus. The car drivers came out and yelled at the bus driver to move. The hapless bus driver just said that he had nowhere to go. Tempers flared. Soon everyone was yelling at each other about whose fault it was that we were all stuck. The same people who hours ago were celebrating together were now fighting with each other.
There was plenty of blame to go around. The bus driver didn’t do such a great job getting us into the current position. Of course, if the 4 people who parked their cars in the way were there, they could have simply moved their cars. But the drivers were nowhere to be found and the bus couldn’t move. The bottom line was that nothing could be done about what had already happened. We needed to figure out a solution to the situation we were in.
Finally, a few leaders came forward. They rallied us to pick up the cars and move them ourselves. If we could manage to move them a foot to the side, the bus would be able to squeeze through. We all worked together and slowly, one car at a time, inch by inch, we did it. The first car took us about 15 minutes to figure out how to move – first one end and then the other – 8 strong people working together. Once we figured out the first one, the next ones were easy. The way was cleared. The cars were not damaged. We all thanked each other for helping out, and we all went home happy.
I am reminded about that bus when I think about the current political situation in Israel. The peace process, which seemed so promising back before the first intifada, now seems to be stuck and going nowhere. The bus reminds me of the State of Israel, the people from the party remind me of the Israelis and the parked cars remind me of the Palestinians. It seems like the Israelis are arguing with each other about whose fault it is that we are stuck. The Palestinians are not doing anything to solve the problem. Nothing.
I really believe that if the Israelis stopped arguing about whose fault it is how we got into the situation, just like we solved the problem with the parked cars, we could start moving the peace process forward together.
Israelis share the same values. We value human life and we desire peace with our neighbors. Throughout history, we have always been our own worst enemy. When we argue with each other we make our problems worse. When we work together we have been able to accomplish miracles.
We need to remember the love we all shared when our parents created the State of Israel. We need to stop arguing with each other about whose fault it is that we have problems. We need to move a few parked cars and we need to get this bus going forward.