Dear Ezra and Lian,
I was standing in the Old City of Jerusalem (like inside the walls of a big castle) when a young woman nearby cried out in pain and clutched her leg.
I shook my head and walked up to her. “You shouldn’t eat outside and wear shorts. It’s Ramadan (the time when Muslims don’t eat during the day).”
I pointed over to the young, Muslim men who had slingshot a stone into her leg. I was trying to be helpful and make sure it didn’t happen again to her.
I had been in a couple different hostels over the past few days. I had heard the stories and warnings. I had already seen a “girl” hobble in crying with tears streaming down her face. Even though the Old City was full of tourists celebrating Christmas 1999 and the dawn of a new thousand years (millenium), public respect for Ramadan was being enforced by gangs of slingshooters.
A couple days later, I’m standing on the Via Dolorosa in the Old City and I felt a sharp, sudden pain in my leg. I was wearing long pants and I wasn’t eating a thing. I looked behind me to see a small group of young men. Ezra, there were a couple boys your age too. They were smiling and laughing at me. As I stared at them, they motioned at me as if to say, “What are you going to do about it?” I shook my head in disgust. There were things I could do, but none of them would turn out well for me or them. I just hobbled away. (While I was in Jerusalem, I narrowly missed getting hit two more times.)
There is a real good chance that in the future, something bad will happen to you. When it happens, I will talk to you about what you could have done differently so that it wouldn’t have happened. It’s just me trying to protect you. I’m sorry if I make you feel like it’s your fault because it’s not. As much as I hate to say it, I can’t protect you from people like this. They don’t need to be provoked. They enjoy watching other people suffer. They have permission from their parents, friends and culture to make you feel pain. Inside of us, is the urge to make others suffer. I have seen it in the both of you. Stop it. You don’t have my permission to make other people suffer for your own entertainment. As long as you live with me you will get punished when you do. You have my support to comfort those who are suffering. You will get rewarded from me when you do.
I have other happier stories about Israel and Jerusalem. I will tell them to you (especially if my cousin finds the stories I wrote down). I hope that despite this story, we can go visit one day. It was one of the most interesting, fun and inspirational places I have ever been.