1. Everywhere he went people would invite him into their homes, which were sometimes mere concrete slabs or basements open to the sun because the house was gone, and then it was: Please have some coffee. That room is where my two girls and my mother were killed. You must drink some soda, it is very hot today. Over there, that is my brother’s house. He lost his wife and auntie and his son. Here are some sweets, you must take some. Please, my friend– In that house there was a family of five, only one survived, she lost her legs. Excuse me– young man, bring our guests some water. Here–
2. Max had the presence of mind to smuggle several shampoo bottles filled with Scotch into Gaza from Israel. This made him popular. At night, several friends were overjoyed to learn of his clever trick, and took care to strain the liquor through paper towels to get rid of the soap residue. They said they hadn’t had a drink in months.
3. Max was filled with despair. Not that I had a hopeful view of the outcome before this, he said. But when you see the destruction, the utter scale and the breadth of it, and all the families destroyed, just wiped out, it’s mindboggling. Then you see that the world does nothing. It’s goes on as if nothing happened. It’s completely soulless, and it fills me with despair that there will ever be a just resolution.
(Brief commentary: 1. Reminds me of my own experience in Gaza and the West Bank, the dignity of people who are experiencing tremendous abuse; so when I want to walk away from this issue, I think of the generosity of those people to me. 2, Reminds me of all the bollocks you hear about the clash of cultures. At some level everyone is the same. And educated seculars always find one another. 3, Max is famously hardboiled and dark. The pity/terror in his voice as he described his own despair– everyone at the table looked down. Seeing this account, Max adds: “People in the US struggle to see Gaza as anything but a war zone filled with victims. They’re just cool people struggling with impossible circumstances.”)