the opening

We sit in a circle staring at each other awkwardly, exhausted from the 10-plus hour plane ride. We are situated on a promenade with a beautiful view of Jerusalem, but it's hard to appreciate. After name introductions, the leaders of our Birthright trip explain to us that they just want to show us the various ways of being Jewish and that they are there to answer all our questions. They used a marketplace analogy to explain themselves. The trip is like a marketplace; you take what you want off the shelf and leave what you don't want. Ultimately it is up to us to make our own decisions. We'll see how that holds up.

I have a feeling that it will turn out like this: as soon as controversial stuff is brought up, it will be oh-so-subtlety shot down with phrases like, "well, I respect that but..." In this way, those in command end the argument without actually responding to it. Instead, they use their power, which needs no public explanation.
However, they may actually take the comments and questions to heart and listen, but not let the subject get taken further, to the point where people feel empowered enough to actually get off their asses and do something. Instead, the controversial discussion will just sit on the shelf behind two other more mainstream opinions in the marketplace of ideas.

At the end of our little introduction, our guides point out the various parts of Jerusalem in the distance. One guide points to a concrete block and asks anyone if they know what it is. No one answers, so I chime in, "the separation/security/apartheid wall."
"Yes" our guide says. I knew this was the closest we'd ever be to that wall, so I took a picture.

The actual wall is that concrete stuff waaaay back in the haze of the background

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