A friend called me recently, leaving a message on my phone. She had been in contact with a fellow American who had come to Gaza City to take a teaching position in a Palestinian school. This individual was coming to Jerusalem for a visit, together with eight other foreign teachers employed at the school under the security auspices of the UN.

"Would you be interested in joining them for dinner?" the message said. "I thought maybe you might talk to them," my friend's voice continued, "I heard one of them in the background say something and when I asked what the woman had said, he replied that she said if someone would give her a bulldozer, she would personally destroy all the synagogues in Gush Katif. Maybe you can talk some sense into them."

At first, I recoiled. I was loathe to even entertain the thought of being in the presence of anyone who would willfully destroy synagogues. I deliberated back and forth for a number of hours, asking friends what they thought of the idea. Finally, I decided I would go. Apprehensive to say the least, but I would go.

Arriving at the restaurant, we discovered our Gaza City guests were going to be late. They had gotten delayed on "the other side of the Old City."

'Hmmmm,' I thought, my defensiveness rising, 'Guess which side?'

Close to an hour later, the visitors arrived. To my astonishment, of the nine foreign teachers, eight were from my former homeland of Canada. Two of those were Canadian by virtue of immigration: a man from Sri Lanka, and a very intelligent and eloquent young woman who had immigrated from Kuwait, where she had lived until she completed high school. However, she regarded neither Canada nor Kuwait as the source of her nationality. Her homeland? Palestine. Where specifically? Gaza. Her parents had been born in Gaza City. It soon became evident who had previously spoken of her desire to bulldoze synagogues.

A distinct coolness settled in between this young woman and me. Focusing my attention on the American in their midst, I nonetheless kept an ear tuned into the conversation to my left. It was my good ear; my right ear is now partially deaf as a result of my having been the target of a Palestinian percussion bomb last year. Despite social cordiality, I could sense the underlying aversion of this young woman to being in the presence of Jews. I found myself enunciating my brachot more clearly and distinctly, as if a remote control had clicked on inside me.

A Jewish friend seated beside me, who has a natural gift for diplomacy and dialogue in such situations, began to softly sing a song of Jewish-Arab shalom/salaam that he had composed. The young woman's mouth set into a frozen smile and her eyes widened and began to shine, but not with what I saw as warmth or admiration. A cell phone call interrupted the impromptu concert and what felt like a tangible release of tension swept round the table. The young woman's eyes returned to normal.

Curious as to what brought them to Gaza City, I began to question the American teacher seated across from me, a staunch Methodist, "a Christian to the core," as he put it. No stranger to such foreign assignments, he had spent several years teaching in Kuwait. As it turns out, the Palestinian school in which all nine are employed is no ordinary school. In fact, "ordinary" Palestinians cannot attend there. "Ordinary" Palestinian children go to school in half-day shifts, at a ratio of 50-60 students to one teacher crammed into the classroom. There is simply not enough space to accommodate all the students on a full-day basis, so the students are divided into two groups, each attending school during their designated hours.

The school at which our dinner guests teach is a private school, however, privately funded by Arab money from other nations. The UN has taken the foreign teachers and the private school project under its "security" umbrella. The school provides a solid Western education for its students: English Literature, Music, Visual Arts, Mathematics, Science. You might be thinking, what Palestinian parent would want their children learning the curriculum of the nations of the "Great Satan"? You might be surprised at the answer: the children of Hamas officials and the Palestinian Authority elite.

How much better to successfully integrate into Western nations, I thought to myself. These children are being raised to be leaders, to skillfully blend into the Western societies, where they will be sent in accordance with the greater Islamic game plan of the future destruction of the very nations into which they've been planted. Ironically, the people being used to instill such educational prowess into future Hamas leaders are citizens of the very countries designated by Islamic terror organizations for destruction. Now that's quite a coup, to use your enemies to accomplish your goal to destroy them.

Our guests continued on, cheerfully chatting about the repetitive warning sirens and curfews imposed upon them. "Why are you being placed under curfews?" I queried.

"Hamas!" came the reply.

Now, let me think this one through. These North American teachers are employed by extra-national Arab investors to provide a Western education to the children of Hamas and PA officials. And they are being placed under regular curfews to protect them from Hamas. Puzzled, I had to ask the obvious, "Why?"

"Well," the eloquent Texan replied, "Hamas has assured us that they won't touch us in any way, that we will be perfectly safe, but the UN doesn't buy it, they're not going to take any chances, so we have to abide by curfews and stringent security measures."

I see. So, if the UN is so concerned with the safety of nine North Americans working in Gaza City, why is it that the UN is not concerned with the safety and security of six million Jews living in Eretz Yisrael? Unfortunately, I know the answer. We're Jews. We did not witness any intervention or outcry from the UN World Refugee organizations when nearly 10,000 Jews were turned into refugees a month ago, did we? A week later, post-Katrina, it wasn't long before the mainstream media carried live broadcasts of Kofi Annan commiserating the refugee situation in Louisiana. Again, we're Jews. There's a difference, as if we did not know.

As the conversation went on, our guests took up a lively pitter-patter about their individual reactions to the varied cultural stimuli they had experienced over the past week: random and not-so-random shooting; Hamas, Fatah, PLO and Communist Party trucks, with flags flying, making regular parades through the city streets with their respective fans surging along beside them; Arafat's nephew being assassinated a block or two away from their apartment; that apartment, coincidentally, burst into flames earlier in the week due to the condition of the electrical wiring while they were under curfew for fear of Hamas and while the synagogues of Gush Katif were being desecrated. Guess they had to break curfew that night. Then there was the shared exhilaration of the Kassam rocket soaring over their heads. Destination? You got it. Not Gaza City.

But what do the tough do when the going gets tough? You march right on down to the UN Club, where there's lots of Western food and drink to ease away one's troubles and create a bubble of Western societal sanity in the midst of a crazy, mixed up world. Am I being sarcastic? I guess so, but I'm entitled. I worked in Romania during Ceaucescu's final year and the year following the Romanian Revolution. I had a two-year contract, just like these teachers. I remember well the "benefits" of being expatriates working in a foreign land: quasi-diplomatic status; access to diplomatic supply chains at duty-free prices; access to the "clubs" and embassies where one could easily pretend life outside those walls did not exist; danger pay. A great job, if you can get one.

I also remember a peculiar night three years ago, right before I moved to Israel, when, as my head hit the pillow, the strangest thought came into my mind: "Your time in Romania was a preparation for living in Israel." On reflection, was that thought so foreign? There are times that I think not. This can be a land where logic fails me.