Today we crossed back into Israel, capping off a successful 3 day adventure to Petra in Jordan. Jordan is a beautiful country with, more or less, unusually friendly people. They seem genuinely interested in helping you in finding a good place to eat or a local bath house.
Lots of people are drinking the Kool-Aid. I’m sure I am drinking a different flavor, too, but I least get a few points since I acknowledge that. It’s easy to criticize but not so easy to actually suggest worthwhile alternatives. First of all, it’s not that odd that Israel charges a departure fee. Yes, it is sort of high, especially when contrasted with Jordan which does not have entry or exit fees. Lots of countries have departure fees that are automatically included in your plane ticket, like Argentina and Costa Rica.
Next, yes, it seems a little silly for the border agents to extensively question your choice of reading material. It also seems a little counterproductive to be incredibly curt about it. However, this country has unusual circumstances that require unusual actions, including questioning someone about the reason they are carrying texts in certain languages. The borders must be protected, and if even the most remote of clues can be gleaned from someone’s reading material in a different language, then it was a success. What seems rude to you is…rude, you’re right. But it keeps people safe. Put your head down and be polite even if they aren’t polite to you. Whether you acknowledge it or not, these people are keeping us safe.
I know the situation is not ideal, but to take such a unilateral approach, even if you believe that some groups are being oppressed, is counterproductive.
Anyway, back to the West.