102204amycamel.jpgJerusalem, 1985, on a road above the old city when our driver stopped so I could shoot some photos. A Palestinian man walked up with a camel he called “Kojack” and asked if we wanted to ride the beast. I declined but Amy decided to try, probably giving in to the Lebanese half of her ancestry.

The ride was, she said, “unusual” and while she was glad she tried it it was not something she planned to try again in the near or distant future. A bus pulled up as she finished her ride and a crowd of Israeli children piled out to surround and pet the camel.

A day later, a suicide bomber set off his bomb after the bus pulled up to the area where we stopped and the children came off to pet the camel. Five people, including three children, died along with “Kojack” and his Palestinian owner.

Israelis face the prospect of death at the hands of such fanatics every day. Most of the Israelis we encountered on the trip faced the uncertainly of life in their embattled country with fortitude and a wry sense of humor.

“If Moses had turned left instead of right the oil would be ours now,” our driver told us. On one excursion into the country, I noticed a billboard in Hebrew and asked the driver what it said.

“It says ‘Good news, God is coming,'” he said. “But bad news. He’s going to Salt Lake City.”