While Israel advocates and hotel managers may seem to have little in common on the surface level, the services they both provide are almost identical.
Let me fix that for you. Yes, of course, I’ll get the door, crack the window, make the bed and catch the phone. Don’t worry. Whatever you need, I’ve got. I am by no means a doorman, perfectionist maid, exquisite chef, or paid hotel manager, but as the former president of an Israel advocacy student organization on my college campus, I can assure that the duties of such trades can be easily confused.
I was, often literally yet mostly metaphorically, a doorman. By welcoming students to educational seminars in the George Washington University classrooms, I tried my best to open the doors of opportunity. The classroom’s cracked windows allowed for a refreshing breeze of nuance and depth to awaken senses and inspire debate. And quite importantly, debate for the sake of learning– not victim blaming and bias-confirming arguments falling on deaf ears.
By not shying away from the tough questions, I kept things spicy in my seemingly part-time employment in the kitchen. Jokes aside, the spices were really brought to the table when we catered Israeli food for cultural community events.
I made my bed in the mornings to make sure that after long hours of stimulating learning, I had a quiet home to return to. And after heated debates, I appreciated my room’s cool air conditioning.
And sometimes, like a maid, when Israel made a mess, I cleaned it up. Let me be clear, I didn’t cover it up. It was like a spilled cup of coffee. I acknowledged it, contextualized the situation, and moved right along. I didn’t stare at the floor, cry for days, create a Facebook event in solidarity with wasted coffee beans, and write a megillah asking Starbucks for forgiveness as is the tendency of many social justice warriors.
As any good hotel manager, I made sure my new and returning community members left with a positive memory of their experience. I made sure that they would want to not only come back to the ‘hotel’ that Israel became in my trade, but rather that students felt eager to come home. Far from being a Trump Tower, in the mega hotel that is my Israel, the land is more than a miraculously settled desert and blossoming.
Israel activism is meant to foster a home-like community with family-like members. And just because people may be your clients or friends, doesn’t mean you need to compromise your opinions to please their own. While picking up frantic phone calls, I learned how to console, listen, when to take responsibility, and most importantly, how to mediate conflict. At the end of the day, activism is about making sure people are safe, comfortable, and taken care of. It is about hospitality.