No one could be oblivious to what is going on in Israel at the moment. Hamas in Gaza shoots rockets at all the major cities it can reach in Israel – and now they are targeting the bedouin villages in the Negev. Israel bombs Gaza and is now on the ground searching out tunnels dug under the border to invade Israel. It isn’t a pretty state of affairs.
We sit here in Akko, a mixed city too far from the rockets to worry about them, but not immune from the situation. The local Arab store owners participated in a strike objecting to Israel’s killing of civilians. A strike means their stores are closed.
But otherwise, most things go on as usual in this city. People go to work, shop and go about their lives.
For the past two weeks a group of 14-to-16-year-old Israelis, Arabs and Jews have been participating in an archaeological program run by SHARE (Society of Humanitarian Archaeological Research and Exploration). They came up to the tel and joined the rest of the students in excavation and survey. They learned about pottery and bones. Then, the second week they joined our students in conservation work.
They eat breakfast together, they work together and they horse around together. Some of them make lasting friendships.
I don’t know whether the subject of Gaza and the Israel Defense Force ever comes up in their conversation. It doesn’t matter if it does or not. They are teenagers, learning about archaeology in the summer. They are different, but in many, many ways, they are the same.