White Girl Down

We all were to get breakfast and then leave at 10 AM.

Breakfast is served in the hotel restaurant downstairs, a nice buffet spread. As we’re eating breakfast, word spreads quickly that Stef went home with the guy she was ‘enjoying’ last night at Clava–but never returned. The collective nervousness begins to set in after 9 AM with no signs of Stef surfacing.  She left her phone in the hotel room. No one could contact her. Our counsellor Kelci was sweating in both the literal and figurative sense.

She never made it back for 10 AM.  Our counsellors were already aware of the situation, but now they were forced to tell our guide Mickey–and he was sweating bullets. A tour guide does not simply lose a 27 year old to Tel Aviv. Our group meets in the nice conference / meeting room of the Hotel Metropolitan.  It was a big circle of chairs, and today was the day to have the group of Israeli soldiers join our group. God, halfway through the trip already–it’s moved so fast.

Now that the whole group is in the same room, we start talking about Stef. Where is she, what happened, whatever. Whatever bonding activity we had planned was fucking TABLED. Now Kelci had told us earlier today to deny that we went out. But now that Stef still isn’t here, it’s just too big a lie–we are forced to tell Mickey we went out. He’s not bothered by it, he just wants to find Stef. Now things have escalated significantly–Taglit birthright, the Israeli government, and the Tel Aviv Police are now involved.

Working together now, we try to find the last picture of her for the police. Rumors are flying around and people think maybe she overslept, maybe she is dead, who knows.  This one awful girl–the only bad vibe person on the whole trip–says she might have been on drugs.

We all start FB messaging her, and at around 11 we can see that she’s online. She reads the message and accepts my friend request. She calls one of her roommates and leaves a voicemail. I only listen to half of it, but when I go to listen to it again, it disappears. Either way it says she is OK.

It’s too late though. Divon, the CEO of Sachlav–our trip provider–is already on the way. In the meantime we get to meet the Israeli soliders who will join our trip for the remaining five days. We only get to chat with them for like 20 minutes…and then it happens.

We were playing ‘as the wind blows’ and I needed to piss like a racehorse.  I walk to the bathroom and I see Stef being escorted by Divon, Mickey, Katia (my angel of death), and some other official looking people. I catch a glimpse of a chair being pulled out, and “Take a seat over here” being said to her.  It took only but a blink of an eye to see how utterly fucked she was.

I tell everyone that she’s in the building, but shortly after Divon enters the room while we’re getting to know the Israelis.  

A quiet befalls the room.  He just stands there, reading all our faces and scanning the room for what seems like minutes. “Remove the grapes.” he says to Abbey in his stern Israeli accent, to which she nervously fumbles them under her chair. He looks fucking pissed.

Tension Centre
Tension Centre

He takes a seat and starts laying on the thickest, most hostile Jewish guilt I’ve ever encountered.

The room is so thick with tension that you could cut it with a dreidel. Divon asks us to be honest, and for everyone who went back out last night to stand up.  38 out of the 40 group members stand up–and so do both of our counsellors.

“Ok.” he says.  He clearly didn’t expect everyone to be in on this.

He goes on this rant about how we all signed an alcohol contract, and that we were all ‘Liars and Thieves’. His English wasn’t perfect and he was really fucking angry, and he kept fixating on us “doing the trick” which was his reference to us going back to our rooms and immediately going out again.

Somewhere in his rant–I think before the part where he says we ‘pissed in his kitchen’–he drops this bomb on us. “Guys! They used her…we will find these guys.”  I will never forget the look on his face as he said the last part. He looked like he was ready to kill.  

After he said that, another one of Stef’s roommates just broke out into tears, truly bawling. She felt somewhat responsible for not making sure she got home safely. The intensity level in the room is like a 9/10.

Things settle a bit, and Rick McCrank makes a grade A compelling argument for the rest of us, explaining that it isn’t realistic to expect adults not to go out and have a few beers. It seems we’re pretty much off the hook, probably because it would just be bad PR to send the whole trip home.

We all got to hug Stef goodbye, and then they carted her off to the airport or some place far away from us.

Once we got that shit-show over with, we got back to meeting the Israeli soldiers, who awkwardly had to sit through this whole debacle. What a way to start the day favicons


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