Sunday, December 25, 2005

Muqata Mystique - part 1

"You know what's so strange about this's so...normal!"

--Amshinover, reflecting on his shabbat at the Muqata.

Any place defined by Amshinover as "normal" is automatically suspect, but I found his comment to me this past week very telling.

It's very cold and rainy in Israel now. Jerusalem rain gusts horizontal from the wind, and the cold soaks through your clothes and shoes. You try but can't even avoid all the puddles, your damp socks cause your toes to grow colder. Even sitting on a crowded Egged city bus the cold lingers and the wet is everywhere. The warm falafel from the bus station or Ben-Yehuda doesn't really warm you up, it barely gives you enough energy to continue on your way.

Outside Jerusalem now, you trudge up the part asphalt, part gravel mud road -- the jeep tracks are filled with water. Despite your best efforts, the puddles and mud cake your shoes. After 10 minutes of the upwards climb, a dark fog envelops the hilltop. A handful of fixed trailer-caravans, a generator and a tent of IDF soldiers are barely visible through the mist, as you walk through the narrow paved path to the caravans at the edge of the hill. On a very clear day, you can see the tops of the smokestack's blinking red lights in Hadera and Ashdod, the skyscrapers of Tel-Aviv, Mt. Hermon to the north. Today its just rain and fog.

The caravan door opens into a crowded world of its own. Kids in every corner, a highchair and tray with a half eaten shnitzel smeared with kethcup, a wooden table with shaky legs and a few plastic chairs scattered around the tiny kitchen area. CDs on a rack on the wall, a bookcase of sefarim, a colorful ratty rug on the floor, and a couch covered with toys and laundry. An Uzi machine gun on top of the bookcase.

The sponga-rag by the front door wasn't successful in preventing the muddy footprints from walking almost everywhere. At least there's a heater blasting hot air into the livingroom area.

On the corner's narrow table sits a computer and DSL modem, a link to the rest of the world. The CD plays Jewish and Israeli music which is barely heard over the splatter of the rain on the thin roof overhead and the wind blowing in through the window frame.

Lab Rab mentioned to me last week that he viewed the Muqata as a ramshackle caravan on a hilltop outpost, so it got me thinking about how you view my reality.

How do you envision the Muqata?

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


Jerusalemcop said...

unfair for me to answer since I've been there. Granted I was there on duty looking in, but I was there.


Mike Miller said...

Except for Shabbosim, I've always imagined it as a fairly Jameelrein place -- don't you spend too much time at work?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

J-cop: don't count.

Don't track in any mud on your way in either.

Mike: Thanks, thats a real sore point. My wife will really appreciate that line. Not. :-/

The Gabbai said...

How do you envision the Muqata?

Sounds like Gan Eden to me.

JoeSettler said...

It's so nice there that I would live there too if my wife wasn't afraid to live in a settlement.

Wait a minute!
She does live in a settlement. And she knows how to shoot an M-16.

Why aren't I living there?

I better go check this out.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

I didn't think that little clusters of caravans full of hippy-looking "Hilltop Youth" would have stable internet access, so I always imagined the 'Muqata' as looking more like...

Alon Shvut.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Steg: They're way too "tzfoni" in Alon Shvut to even think of a blog name like the "Muqata."

JoeSettler: And you could have joined a "real" kitat konenut as well!

Gabbai: Actually, Amshi had a blast...and we like it too :-)

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Tzfoni ?

The Gabbai said...


Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Heh...Tzfoni (northerners) comes from "Northern Tel-Aviv/Tzfon Tel- Aviv" where the beautiful people of body and soul live.

A "Tzofoni" settler lives 10 meters over the green-line...or naïvely believes there's a nation-wide concensus on their home being essential to Israel's Zionist empire.

Anonymous said...

Ahh, so you're saying you live in a place with a siege mentality

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

anonymous: Siege mentality - based on what? Was it the half eaten shnitzel soaked in ketchup, or the CD's playing Jewish music that gave it away?

Irina Tsukerman said...

I see it as having a deceiving appearance. Outside, it looks like a bunker... once you go inside you expect it to have very little room... but for some reason, extra space appears in the most unexpected places. Inside, it looks messy but cheerful, energetic, and friendly. But beware! If the need arises, you can be sure that everyone inside can stand up for their own!

Anonymous said...

As Rickie Lee Jones sings,

But I know that the world you make inside your head
That's the one you see around,

And the one you see
Is the one you make

Shavua Tov to the residents of The Muqata.

Unknown said...

I imagine it to be pretty Anglo... :)

Elchonon said...

I am pretty sure i know where jameel lives. ahhh i miss the mud!!! alon shvut are like memlachti!

Mike Miller said...

A "Tzofoni" [...] naïvely believes there's a nation-wide concensus on their home being essential to Israel's Zionist empire.

That seems to be a pretty accurate description of most of the media...

MC Aryeh said...

I imagine where you live as a cross between Kochav HaShachar and, well...the muqata....minus Arafat...

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Ezzie: Anglos? Saxons? No rampaging vikings anywhere...

Elchonon: You got not clue.

MCAryeh: Kochav Hashachar's a nice place too, but too close to the desert for me.

Jack Steiner said...

Hmm...Sorry, you got me this time.

westbankmama said...

Oh my, oh my - memories of my seven years in a caravan. Can you hear yourself think when it rains? I used to have to shout into the phone because the rain on the tin roof made so much noise.

Having guests was also a challenge, I only invited small families. When we moved to our house, I spent a lot of Shabbosim paying back families for their invites. It was a real pleasure opening up the dining table to its full length and hosting the Pesach seder - for 18.

Unknown said...

Anglo enough that they have a pretty good AFI team there. :) (American Football in Israel)

Elchonon said...

jameel, you live in kedumim according to my calculations :)


there were several surprises at "the Maq"
2]less americans than i imagined
3]great food
4]Jam's kids were clean (for arabs)
5]i did not get shot or feel any danger
6]the homes were regular non trailer park diggs
7]only 1 Mrs.Jam
8]she did not need a shave
9]other then one matrix lunatic davening was cool
10]on shabus i felt like i was with my zayda in the alter hame; holiness, all jews,torah conversations, halachic debate, herring, lechaims,no cars, spot lights, barbed wire, gates soilders,guns jewish stars.

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