Asher Greenberg

Asher in Asia

Asher Greenberg

Middle East » Israel » Tel Aviv District » Tel Aviv January 3rd 2013

Just a heads-up that new posts will go up here: I wanted a blog with more customization options and to also become more familiar with a widely used platform (wordpress). Latest post is called "the place where there are angry people"... read more

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem March 23rd 2011

Jerusalem March 23, 2011 I first heard in one of those crammed, dusty, sell-a-little-bit-of-everything Old City shops. The kind where you wonder how they amassed all these items, especially that large ancient discolored menorah hanging from the ceiling. Would not a little less clutter and maybe a little polish help move some of this inventory? The shopkeepers were speaking in Hebrew. It was something about a pee-tsuts (an explosion) on a bus in Jerusalem, but the tone was speculative. I’d intended for us to get lost in the Old City, but away from the Wall. The narrow cobblestone streets deceptively channel you down towards the Temple Mount anyway. The three of us slowly walked arm-in-arm, Karen in the middle, indecisive at every intersection, stopping to take pictures of each other in front of pretty arches and ... read more

Middle East » Israel » West Bank August 16th 2010

August 2010, Khan al-Ahmar, in the hilly desert east of Jerusalem, West Bank Area C For the article I published in Haaretz, please click here New Hope for the Jahalin Bedouin, who ‘fell between the cracks’ Caught between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim, the Jahalin tribe takes courage from a new school, their children, and engagement by Israelis and foreign activists The drive east from Jerusalem doesn’t take long, but the van’s occupants doze. At 8 am, the sun is up but the heat is manageable for now. From east Jerusalem, the road dips beneath Mount Scopus and then emerges in the Judean Hills, joining Route 1, the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway. Driving through deep desert valleys, the familiar sight of ramshackle metal shacks appears. Most... read more
The Setting
The School

Middle East » Israel » West Bank August 1st 2010

October 1, Toronto Whenever I told someone I’d led Birthright, I sometimes got this look of shock in return, especially from pro-Palestinian activists. To them, Birthright is a slick brainwashing machine. It accomplishes the double crime of turning young Jews into Israeli radicals and offensively offering free “Return” to Jews but not Palestinians. Yes, Birthright offers a one-sided view of the Israeli narrative. But, my trip leader was far more open-minded than I’d expected. I was happy that our group learned that there is at least another side to the story. In my view, it is good to get Jews interested in and supportive of Israel, so long as that support is not uncritical. And as I saw on this trip, it's also about getting Jews interested in Judaism, and in each other (…romantically). July 2, ... read more
South Hebron Hills
Activist Village
Poisoned Well

Middle East July 26th 2010

July 1, Jerusalem District (Birthright) We met the Israeli soldiers at our Jerusalem hotel. They are three guys and five girls, all actively serving in various units (such as anti-terror). An essential component of the Birthright program, they would be joining our group for five days. Obviously a coveted assignment, the young uniformed men and women hold a monopoly on the attention of the equally young and spellbound Americans. After a new round of icebreakers, together we go to “hike the Sataf, an ancient village.” An ancient Palestinian village that ceased to exist in 1948, actually. But Jeremy’s point is to indicate that the area has been settled for a long time, so I only mention it to a few of the students in passing. As we walk, I connect a bit more with the soldiers, ... read more

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem July 24th 2010

June 30, The Old City, Jerusalem (Birthright) I am an inexperienced counselor. I never did summer camp, I was never in a youth movement. My parents took my sister and I on summer trips instead, to the UK, to the Caribbean, to the Maritimes, to the Rockies, to Israel. Besides, I was a shy kid, introverted, interested in Star Trek, science and science fiction. While I’ve grown up since then, volunteered and backpacked abroad, led organizations on campus and off, that quiet Asher is always a part of me. The first few days of Birthright were tough; I learned that my ‘job’ as a madrich (counselor) involved the stuff I’d never done at the camp that I never went to - ice-breakers, learning games, and programs. I was eager to learn but a growing tension between ... read more

Middle East July 18th 2010

July 12, West Jerusalem It is hard to write about experiences that are even 2 weeks old. Such was the busy schedule, the fatigue and the stress, that I never thought of taking notes at the end of each night. Today is my first day that is free of scheduled activities or travels in two weeks. It wasn’t even planned that way. I was supposed to meet with leftist Diaspora Zionist organization leaders and non-violent Palestinian protest organizations at an unfinished portion of the Security Barrier, all courtesy of a friend from the New Israel Fund. At 745 am, after an Aroma breakfast, I began my walk up Emek Refaim in the wealthy (and decidedly American) Jerusalem German Colony to meet the group. My stroll was interrupted by terrible stomach cramps, which forced an urgent diversion ... read more

Asia » Laos September 19th 2009

In coming back to this blog to publish for my next trip to Israel, I found the last unpublished entry from my last one: *** Laos is actually pronounced Lao. The government and many individually owned stores I passed spelled it "Lao". My dad blames the French, the former colonial patron, "who are always adding extra letters to things." Travelers I meet along the way are equally confused. Israelis in particular seem intent on pronouncing the "s" in Laos in such a way that it rhymes with mouse. Here I'm using the international spelling but when I read it in my head, I drop the 's'. In retrospect, I'm happy that I chose to end my trip in Laos. I needed a change of scene, a different environment, after a darker experience in Cambodia. Vientiane Vientiane, ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » North » Angkor September 9th 2009

Journey From my journal on September 9: "Going home in nine days. Actually, I'm leaving Bangkok in eight. I'm on the six hour bus ride from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, growing steadily angrier at the bus driver's liberal use of the horn. On either side, Cambodian rice paddies, farms and villages stream by. Most of the wooden houses sit on stilts, raised maybe 3 to 6 feet off the ground. The reason, which eluded me earlier, has become obvious. In wet seasons the flat rice fields are flooded with water. This being September, the road, which is raised a few feet off the ground, is the only dry thing in site. I've just finished reading "First They Killed My Father", an Elie Wiesel style memoir of the Cambodian genocide. It's thoroughly haunting. The Holocaust tropes ... read more
Temples of Angkor

Asia » Thailand » South-West Thailand » Ko Tao September 4th 2009

Good Morning. I've just enjoyed coffee and bread with chocolate on top for breakfast. Mmmmm. Despite the information listed above, I'm actually in Laos and it's September 11. Yesterday, I realized something. I'm going home in seven days and there is still SO MUCH I need to see. Problematic because I'm heading to northern Laos now, and I have to make it back to Bangkok by September 16 (today is the 11th). Especially distressing because in my one day here, I've fell in love with Vientiane, Laos's capital. LP describes it like this: "Were Laos, Thailand and Vietnam tuk-tuk drivers, the Thai driver would take you to your destination via a silk shop, the Vietnamese driver would almost run you over for your custom, while you'd probably have to go find the Laos driver, wake him ... read more

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