group photoNot all our team’s tasks are so grim. One of them is to support the ever-shrinking Christian population of Jerusalem (more on this problem in my next journal) by going to the various churches. Being a Quaker attender, I’m obviously not much used to Orthodox liturgies, rites and rituals but culturally I find the Greek, Russian, Armenian and Melkite services very interesting. One outing I particularly enjoyed was to an Iftar organised by asn inter-faith group called the Abrahamic Reunion held in a Latin Patriarchate (Catholic) school at the half Melkite-half Muslim village of Rama in Israel – what a mix! It is near Nazareth in the Galilee. As well as getting some good nosh, about 200 people heard speeches by rabbis, priests and imams about all believing in the same God. It was heartening to see people still trying for harmony despite the trend to fundamentalism in both Israeli and Palestinian societies.

One thing that keeps me sane in the midst of grim things is my rather childish sense of humour. I know it’s pathetic but I find two of my colleagues’ idiosyncratic use of English extremely funny. I defy anyone who doesn’t speak French to guess who the ‘vanishing ladies’ are that appeared in our checkpoint log. I was about to call Amnesty International to tell them Israel was using an extreme form of human rights abuse invented in Argentina when I recalled ‘s’evanouir’ means to faint (not to disappear). This same colleague always refers to the ‘crow’ at the checkpoint, sans d. My Swedish colleague and I have been in stitches imagining one of Hitchcock’s huge black birds hovering overhead. This ‘crow’ was joined at the checkpoint yesterday by my other colleague’s ‘slowly moving queer’ and this misspelling sent us off into hysterics again. Ah well, small things amuse small minds.

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