Helen Gottstein
Corporate public speaking skills for people of ambition

Israeli Escort Services

It’s July. Our son invites us to visit him at the Erez Checkpoint and bring him chocolate milk…during the war. On the up side, we would see him. On the down side, we might get killed. The radio reports that anyone driving into the war-zone of the Gaza envelope will be stopped by a military police roadblock. Our lovely boy says, “If you get stopped, call me. I know a back way.” We say, “Thanks, but no thanks. We are not driving across a field on the edge of Gaza, but thanks for offering.”

We were, indeed, stopped at the roadblock at Yad Mordechai. And then, suddenly we get a military escort and in we go. Four cars of parents drive behind a military car right into Erez Checkpoint. It is surreal … as if somehow, driving with an army escort means we are safer from Hamas. What’s more Israeli: Our son saying if the army stops you, I can get you in a back way, or us driving behind this dinky jeep into a war zone to bring him chocolate milk?

It’s Erev Yom Kippur, and I have never seen such a total lack of cars driven by Palestinians in my neighborhood. There is a back way to the Old City through the valley but the usual exit points for Jabel Mukaber through the Jewish neighborhoods are completely blocked off. At the plastic, red and white police string across the road of the promenade, about eight policemen lounge against two police cars. Ain’t no-one going through.

And then, suddenly, two cars arrive. One is driven by a Palestinian man and one by a Palestinian woman. They aren’t speeding, they just want to get through. The policemen wave to them to go back in the direction of Jabel Mukabber. They both got upset. The man starts shouting, the woman gets tearful. The police continue to lean on their cars and wave them away. And then, one gets in his police car and says, “Follow me.” And gives them a police escort. What’s more Israeli: The dismissive wave of the hand or the thinking out of the box?

It’s Shabbat, November 1. A friend of mine from a dialogue group is a school principal. She invites me to her school in Jabel Mukaber to do some fun staff training with the teachers. I say I can drive there. She tells me a lovely teacher will meet me and take me in. I park my tiny car and get into her ni-hice, large BMW. I am glad I did. We go past overturned, burning garbage cans and about 100 young men lining the streets looking in the cars to see who the occupants are as they go past. It’s like entering a war zone. She sails by with a toss of her black curls, ignoring or swatting away any interest in us. I am so glad to have her as my escort. How Israeli is that?

About the Author
Helen Gottstein, Loud and Clear Training, boosts public speaking skills for people of ambition and corporate teams so they reach their speaking goals. She's a popular public speaker, a TEDX mentor and a lousy cook.