To drink, or not to drink?
Trip Start Jan 23, 2003
14Trip End Ongoing
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The day after Purim, a Jewish holiday in which the celebrant is commanded by law to drink until he or she can no longer distinguish between the names "Mordekhai" and "Haman," I visited the west bank town of Jericho, which is the longest continually inhabited human settlement in the world (est. 9000 BC), and boasts a theme park called banana land. Without exception, despite whatever may have been brewing under the surface, all the Palestinians I met were quite friendly, open, and happy to chat. An intriguing thought occurred to me.
Since the Qu'ran forbids it, most Muslim Palestinians do not drink.
I probably would not want to be caught wandering around as an obvious outsider in any American city with a 30 percent unemployment rate and an ideological grudge against most of the stuff I'm associated with. As I strolled through Jericho, however, I was quite reassured to know that with all things considered, nobody was likely to be drunk.
What, I wonder, would things be like if Palestinians drank like Harvard students? The territories would certainly be much, much more dangerous for the likes of me.
What about the political situation? With booze conflicting with patience and planning, infighting might be more common, organization worse, and things might look good for the Israelis.
But on the other hand, a mix of drunken courage and impaired judgment can lead to problems, as most of you know. A young man who would normally stay home might have other plans after a few drinks.
Would the problem have burned itself out by now? Would sinful releases diffuse the focus of the Palestinian people? Would things be worse for Israel? Would things be worse for Palestine? Could things be better?
Who knows...who knows.