September 19, 2000

A Simple Pit Stop

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Will Ehud Barak make more concessions on East Jerusalem to Yassir Arafat? Will Arafat and his Palestinian negotiators be more willing to cross their red lines? Ultimately, will a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians occur in the near future? These are the assiduous questions that encapsulate Middle East peace talks.

Last semester, as an abroad student at Tel-Aviv University in Israel, I thought about questions on this topic. Although the aforementioned questions refer to the upcoming peace negotiations in the United States, I engaged in daily discussions with my friends, my uncle and even my family back in the States about Israeli current events at that time. For Israeli current events personally effects the daily lives of its citizens, travelers and even study abroad students.

In global papers such as the New York Times, Middle Eastern news is devoted primarily to informing the public about prospective peace talks, stalled peace talks or broken peace talks. However, beyond this reported political drama is an unreported playground of sports drama — an untold story till now.

One weekend, my friends and I decided to embark on an eight-hour journey from our dorms in Tel Aviv to the Sinai, an area once controlled by Israel but was then given back to Egypt in the Camp David Accords of 1979. After a five-hour bus ride to Eilat, the southernmost tip of Israel, we crossed the border into Egypt at about midnight. A bunch of Arabs, fully dressed in their cultural garb — kafiya (head covering), robe and sandals, walked towards us in a strut reminiscent of “Reservoir Dogs”. However, they were not misfeants, rather cab drivers looking for business from na