This Israel Thing Affects Us, Too
For those of you who have not been hiding underneath rocks and other things that prevent the world from encroaching on your consciousness, it turns out Israel has caused quite a storm with their recent activities on the high seas. And this affects us here in Azerbaijan. As PCVs, we’re really the only contact with Americans that many of these people get. And as such, people often confuse our opinions with official USA foreign policy. You can see how this might be a problem.
It’s also the case that people here often think that all Americans are the same. So the fact that I drink coffee means all Americans drink coffee. The fact that the American government has strong ties to Israel means that I, also, must love Israel and everything they do. In the office, Rauf happens to be guy who knows that the Israeli and American governments are close. And he knows that I’m American. Therefore, I am also close with Israel. While I generally try to avoid political questions around here, Rauf doesn’t. He usually is joking, but it’s a little difficult for me to handle because of the way my answers are going to be perceived by everyone around.
So while I would really like to think that being in the Peace Corps, being relatively isolated from the news of the world, renders me less exposed to these sorts of situations, it just isn’t the case. Instead, any time the US or the President say something regarding Israel, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkey, or Armenia, I hear about it. And am asked uncomfortable questions. And then I usually give an unsatisfactory answer that only eases the situation, but doesn’t give a full picture of what is happening and why. This is especially the case whenever Armenia is mentioned by anyone in the US government. Trying to defuse such situations wasn’t in the Peace Corps Manual, but it looks like it’s going to be a regular part of my service.