Birthright & Basketball

I was just asked if I want to speak English for possibly the first time in months.

While perhaps it’s an achievement that I have gone this long without hearing the dreaded question, it also felt like an insult. I’m in Sderot. Who speaks English in Sderot?
I continued my exchange in Hebrew after telling the man at the electronics store that, no, English would not be easier for me. Then I left when he told me the price of a maten (I had pronounced it matan, which was one of my tipoffs). 
As I left, I noticed a bus. A taglit bus. Birthright was back. The Americans were in Sderot. It was horrible. I was no longer an anomaly and when I went to the best hummus place in Israel, one of my local favorites, Birthright was there again! And again, my Hebrew was questioned.
I didn’t like the people of Sderot thinking that I was one of them. I live here. I deal with the threat of terror every day and I go to Sderot to deal with my bank, with bureaucracy, to buy socks! I’m not just an American tourist here for an hour to see the remnants of rockets and the playground with the caterpillar bomb shelter. I used to be that American visitor, but now I’m local.
There were also a lot of soldiers in the area. More than usual, which was why I noticed. At the intersection that leads to my kibbutz and then again at the entrance to Sderot. Lots of Magav in neon yellow vests. I haven’t googled if something happened in the area yet.
When I got back to my kibbutz, I saw more soldiers. (Kfir, I think). They were on the court outside of my moadon, playing basketball with some kids. They were kids themselves, but in uniform with guns. I would have loved to have a role model like that—the big strong soldier who is cool enough to take a break and play basketball with some kibbutz kids. 

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