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    Saturday, November 1, 2008

    Myths and maps

    By taxi from Antakya, Turkey to Lattakia, Syria — Wednesday, Oct. 29

    A snippet of the conversation I had today as I talked my way through Turkey's border with Syria:

    Syrian soldier in ill-fitting uniform:
    Have you ever been to Occupied Palestine?

    Me: Nope. No sirree. Never heard of it.

    SS: Do you intend to visit Occupied Palestine after you leave Syria?

    Me: No. Why would I want to visit such a place. I can tell it's heinous just by the way you spit its name out. (I'm paraphrasing here. I actually don't know the Arabic word for "heinous.")

    Crossing borders in the Middle East is always a game. If your job requires you to live in Jerusalem (ie. the headquarters of the Zionist Entity/Occupied Palestine) and cover the rest of the Middle East (ie. the angry Arabs who just refuse to peacefully coexist with darling, expansionist little Israel) it's a game of bluff.

    Having lived in Jerusalem for the past three-and-a-half years, I've perfected the art. The Syrians and the Lebanese want you to swear that you've never been to Israel, even if a quick Google search of my name would prove otherwise.

    The Israelis, on the other hand, want you to gripe and complain about having to visit these awful countries that surround them.

    "Where are you going?" I was asked by a security guard once at Israel's Ben Gurion airport as I checked in for a flight to the Jordanian capital, Amman.

    "Amman, then Beirut," I told him truthfully, just to see his reaction. Most Israelis envision Lebanon as one of Dante's lower levels of hell.

    "Why?" the agent asked with concern.

    "For vacation. It's beautiful there. A lot like Tel Aviv."

    The agent strongly doubted that. It's easier, I suppose, to envision the enemy as being fundamentally different than you.

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