Flugvergnügen, Teil Eins

So, it’s Shabbat. I have a connecting flight through everybody’s favorite bastion of antisemitism: Germany. Germany prides itself as being a country of law. In fact, when a police officer escorting me through the airport me told to put my mask up over my nose, I told him that masks didn’t do anything against COVID, and he replied, “it’s the law.” I told him I didn’t like irrationality. He laughed.

So, how is it that I came to be escorted by a German police officer through the Frankfurt airport? Well, I do happen to be wearing tzitzit. And it looks like the media needs another hit piece on unruly Jews. I’m not even a Jew yet. I just wear tzitzit. I just look like one. Also, I’ve been ranting for well over a year now how Satan has had it out for me. I use that word a lot. “Satan” isn’t the only crazy word I use. I also use the word “prophet” a lot. It’s an outgrowth of personal spiritual reflections, matters of identity, and just the result of the crazy things that went on with me in 2019 that I dealt with throughout 2020 and even in some slight degree to this day. As a blogger I tend to use some rather garish literary depictions at times. I actually don’t claim to have dreams of the future or be able to work miracles like Samuel or Elijah. But over the last year or so, the word seems to fit more and more. Honestly, it started off as a kind of literary reference, almost as a joke. And I still refer to myself as “the meth head prophet of Facebook” and other funny titles to make light of it all. But there are just getting to be more and more times where there seems to be something else to it. It seems that the more like a prophet I act, the more the world treats me like a prophet, which includes the phenomenon of a few people understanding the kinds of things I say, and the world at large generally having it out for me. Likewise, it also seems to be the case that the more like a Jew I act, the more a few people get what I am on about, but the more the world at large seems to be out to get me.

So I’ve talked in another post about getting deported from Israel against every fundament of logic ever devised by man. It seemed that from the moment I decided to interrupt my life in Mexico to pursue the goal of Israel and Judaism, my life got more and more bizarre and difficult. This pattern even seemed to be something of a fulfillment of a prophecy uttered to me by none less than a dime store psychic that I went to see with Alia and Chloe before making that trip to Madrid, Serbia, and the Ben Gurion Airport. She told me that if I tried to take the path that I described to her, forsaking the simple pursuit of pleasure and prosperity with family and friends, life would become more and more difficult. That has turned out to be the case.

On this trip toward Israel, it wound up such that I wouldn’t be able to make any progress entering the country for a few months at least. The idea of sitting alone in Belgrade waiting for that to happen wasn’t particularly appealing, so I decided to return to the USA to wait for my lawyer to clear up my entry record and explore the option of converting to Judaism abroad and trying to enter again under different circumstances, as someone with some sort of legal recognition of being a Jew. Coincidentally, as I began to make preparations to head back home to see my family, the news media in Israel and abroad appeared to indicate a shift in consciousness about the COVID phenomenon, that people were getting tired of masks and boosters and quarantines, in France, in Israel, and elsewhere. Israel reopened to tourists, though that wouldn’t help me as a deportee banned from entry to the country. Nevertheless, just preparing to go back to the USA seemed to make the world a little more sensible. That in itself is something of a story. However, as soon as I hopped on a plane back to my homeland, the weird hit me straight in the face.

The flight from Belgrade to Serbia was normal enough. Everyone’s mask was around their chin, as the Serbians love to do. I didn’t even bother to wear one, and the flight attendants paid no mind. Immediately upon deplaning in Frankfurt, however, I learned what being in the EU means. Some old German guy in plan clothes told me to put a mask on. I said, “what, are you a cop?” He said that he was, walking toward me aggressively, and pulled out a tiny ID card no larger than a business card or a driver license. I waved him away and put my mask on, and as I continued up the escalator, I said, “Jesus, it’s like the Gestapo is running this place.” Apparently the guy was insulted, as I caught sight of him running up the stairs to tell a clearly identifiable uniformed member of the Polizei. When I got to the top of the stairs, that officer took my passport and told me to wait.

They love to do that. Take your passport. Never mind that my flight was going to my country of nationality and I had a stack of IDs in my backpack that would get me there. Although I do confess that one perk of integrating into Israel will be having a couple of passports on me in order to defray any discomfort resulting from this dehumanizing procedure. Israeli border control took my passport when deporting me for being a financially stable American interested in converting to Judaism. It lets you know you are being subjected to control games like you’re on Planet of the Apes or something.

After all the other passengers were checked and sent on their way, the guy told me that hostility toward officers is a crime in Germany. Well, it is in the USA too, but that usually means attacking them or going out of control with hostile ravings in their presence such that they are forced to protect themselves in some way. I’ve told off a cop or two in my day, careful to not really be aggressive, and I’ve never had any problems. I’m sure Israel has similar such laws that allow them to protect themselves and maintain some degree of control when things go completely out of hand. I didn’t see anything like that happening here, however. Nonetheless, Germany has weird laws about Nazis. You just can’t buy a copy of Mein Kampf in the country, for example. All their street signs that contained reference to the name “Adolf” have been removed. Outside of Israel, Germany is actually a good place to be a Jew, according to the laws on the books. German citizenship is easy to get for Jews, and German Jews get healthy scholarships to study. Germany still pays Israel a bit of money as reparations. So I was open to the possibility that I’d committed some sort of faux pas in violation of Germany’s sensitivities about Nazism and war guilt.

At the same time, though, I was open to the possibility that these guys had recognized that I was wearing tzitzit, and that I had the look of a Jew, and that I was being discriminated against. In any event, the guy asked me if I spoke German. I told him I didn’t, even though I do. My German is rusty, but more importantly, NEVER talk to a cop in his native language if it isn’t your native language, if he can speak your language. I always tell people I never lie, but I did. But it’s cops we are dealing with here. Anyway, he asked me where I was from, where I was going, and told me that in Germany it wasn’t allowed to be hostile to police. I still don’t know what kind of police that guy was, and I said something that should have been out of earshot anyway, as I was walking away and complying with his instructions.

So they sit me down in a waiting room in front of a bunch of cops behind a glass window not unlike something you would see at a bank or a bus station. Nothing happens for a long time. Eventually I need to pee, so I let them know, and as an officer escorts me to the bathroom, tell him that this case should not be too hard to figure out for someone of average intellect. I told him that if Germany was a country with a concept of due process, I planed to plead “not guilty” and receive a court date. Of course I would never appear, and I would never book another connecting flight through das Vaterland. I just wanted my passport and to get the heck out of there. Without much of a response he went in and spoke to the others in the office, I assume relaying the message.

This didn’t make anything go faster, so I pulled a camp, grabbed my AirPods and my iPad and started writing. That would make time fly. Not much later federal police came out to me with some strange news. All of my musings about concerns over Nazism or issues about insulting the police were for nought. Apparently, in Germany, anyone insulting anyone for any reason is a crime. That’s what I was going to be charged with. Hurting another human being’s feelings. For a second, the situation seemed just as bizarre as being deported from Israel for wanting to convert to Judaism. However, the end was not so bleak. In the back of my mind I had some worry that if I stated I wanted to make denials and plead not guilty, the guys would hold me there until I could see a judge or something. But that also was not the case. They had me sign some forms saying that local bureaucrats would would look at the issue and mail me anything I needed to know to my address in the USA. They handed me my passport and off I went to enjoy my 18-hour layover in the transit area.

You could say I was just an arrogant traveler who did not pay proper respect to authority. But for me this has been a wake-up call. My difficult life wasn’t going to get easier just because I was going back to the USA. I was going back to the USA to become a Jew, and a complaint under my breath about Nazism gets me charged with a crime in none other than the big airport in Germany.

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