An arduous journey to the UN

AP News
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Posted: Sep 27, 2012 2:31 PM
An arduous journey to the UN

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — After a 2-hour security screening in Tel Aviv, a 12-hour flight to New York and another hour in Big Apple rush-hour traffic, we were starting to run out of gas. But the oddest part of our journey was still to come.

Crammed into a minibus along with 20 Israeli journalists, we were the final vehicle in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's motorcade as he headed to deliver a crucial speech at the United Nations. Then, suddenly, under a bridge on the FDR expressway, we slowed to a halt. The prime minister's convoy disappeared in the distance.

We had run out of gas. Amid the mad preparations for the high-profile visit, apparently someone in the advance team forgot to fill the tank.

The U.S. security agent assigned to our vehicle urged everyone to stay calm. "The situation is under control," he said. "Please stay seated."

But we had had enough. Out the door we went, attempting to hail cabs.

Several yellow taxis whizzed by, but for some reason a big yellow school bus - empty aside from a lone middle-aged women in a Muslim headscarf - veered into our lane and welcomed us aboard.

Delirious from the fumes and the time difference we shuttled aboard. I grabbed the last place, in the front row, on a booster seat. From the back of the stuffy school bus someone asked, in Hebrew, to turn the air conditioner on and the bus driver obliged. I gave him an odd look.

"You speak Hebrew?" I asked in Hebrew.

He smiled. "A little. I'm a Russian Jew. I've been to Israel four times."

And that's a New York kinda story about getting to the United Nations: a gaggle of Israeli journalists, a Muslim woman and a Hebrew-speaking Russian driver inside a yellow New York school bus.