A story from my recent visit to Israel.
One of the schools I went to check out was a high school in Baka al Garbiyeh.
A friend brought me over to meet with the principal of the school, and I sat for about three hours with the man in his office, on the third floor. I went through my power point presentation on my laptop on a table in his office, and both he and the head of his English 'department' gave me wonderful feedback.
They offer you a lot of coffee in that many hours, and I had to borrow the key to the restroom a few times.
I really had time to talk to him, and to explain exactly why I thought helping his students would strengthen his community, which is part of Israel, and therefore strengthen Israel, and so came out of my ideology; my positive vision of Zionism and democracy. Finally, Nizar, the principal, gave me a letter asking for the English and civil society program I had described to him, and I went back to Kiryat Malachi, or whatever I was doing that night. (Kiryat Malachi is about an hour and a half drive from Baka and Jizr al Zarka.)
When I finally stepped into the apartment in Kiryat Malachi later that night, I put my hand in my jacket pocket and took out - the keys to the third-floor bathroom in the Baka Comprehensive high school.
I thought "Great. Won't that just make a wonderful impression! 'I remember him - he's the guy who stole our bathroom key!'"
So, early the next morning, I took a detour on the way to Jizr al Zarqa, and went back to Baka. I drove into the school and walked up the stairs, knocked on the door, heard something from the other side, and went in. Nizar was having a meeting with three guys around the table, but he brightened up when he saw me and said (in Hebrew) "Yigal! Mah Inyanim? Hakol B'seder?" (Like - "what's up? everything ok?")
I said, "Lo Bidiuk" ("not exactly"). Then I held out my hand and showed the key.
He started to laugh, and then the rest of them laughed, and when they stopped, Nizar introduced me to the three guys, and said a few words about the program we are trying to start in their school, in Baka al Garbiyeh, Israel.
Then he said "He does this out of his Zionism. And I agree with him 100%."
I was surprised, but also very pleased.
Before heading out to my car, I tried to buy a soda at the school 'canteen' with a few dollars (I had no shekels on me at that minute, and shekels are the currency everyone uses). The fellow behind the counter - to whom the principal had introduced me the day earlier - handed me a can of Coke and said "Even if you give me Israeli money I still won't take it"!
I continued on towards the parking area. The Hebrew words "Merkaz Pais Kehilati" were posted in large letters on a wall.
It was only about ten o'clock in the morning, but it was already a great day.
("Pais" is the Israeli lottery. The sign shows that the building was built by the Israeli government using lottery money.
There are similar signs on schools and community centers in just about every town in Israel, including Arab Israeli towns.)