Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Independence and confusion


Last Friday at Nava Tehilla, the Jewish Renewal monthly service I attend, the Rabbi spoke about the upcoming Israeli Independence Day.

"There are many people here working in Israeli/Palestinian dialogue.  With Israelis celebrating Independence Day this coming Tuesday, we have to realize that one people's celebration is not always that for everyone.  It's a sad day for others living in this country... and this causes a lot of confusion."

I had come home from that service so happy that the Rabbi acknowledged this, and also because my dinner guest had mentioned that she would be interested in joining my interfaith group, because of what the Rabbi said.  We have to understand one another.

And talk about confusion.  At the home front, things are most confusing.

"Black is such a negative color" my husband remarked to me one morning.

Huh?  He's always complaining that I'm so fat.  Doesn't he know that black makes me look thinner? Fool. I kept the black outfit on.

Meanwhile this week, he's been having withdrawal symptoms from trying to quit smoking.  It's been 4 days now since he's taken a butt and he's miserable, and the scowl on his face seems to me to be a permanent facial disfigurement.  He had been calling me an average of 25 times a day, while I'm at work.  I'm ignoring most of those calls.  I tell him he's only allowed to call me once or twice at the most.  He doesn't listen and catches the office manager on the phone, to tell her of all my sins. 

"Did you know that she eats Halal meat?" referring to non-kosher meat but rather the Arab version of "kosher".

I sighed when he told me he told her.  He loves to point out my sins to others.  Like when we were Chabad chassidim, and I used to go Israeli dancing with both men and women, which is taboo in the Chassidic world.  But he made sure that everyone in our religious neighborhood knew about it, when we had a tiff or two or three.

Yesterday, my office closed early for Memorial Day for Israel's fallen.  I've always thought it should be a memorial day for both Israelis and Arabs who died in our what-seems-like-an-eternity-of conflict.  I thought I'd head over to the YMCA where a joint memorial day ceremony for both Israelis and Arabs was being held.  I couldn't stay the full three hours as I had promised by daughter that I'd attend the local Independence Day celebration in Maaleh Adumim where her boyfriend was going to perform.  At the joint memorial ceremony, I listened to an older man talk about his boyhood in Ramle, where up until 1948, it was an Arab town.  People were involved in agriculture.  He knew nothing as a child of any conflict, Arabs and Jews.  All they wanted to do was play.  Until the War of Independence where he lost his home and described weeks of going without food, being sheltered in a local church, and the fear and loss they experienced. His last words were something like "Israel does not have complete independence yet", and I agreed with him.   I had to leave after an hour, but I knew that they would also hear an Israeli speak about their loss during a terror attack.  I would miss the listening workshops and the candlelighting.  I had to rush home to celebrate.

"I told them all about you" said my daughter about her boyfriend's parents.  "I told them you love Arabs and that you are trying to make peace between Arabs and Israelis.  His father asked me 'What ! Does she want to give back Maaleh Adumim?' but I said I really didn't know what you do, and that he should speak to you."

What a fabulous first impression.  I'm about to meet them in about two hours for the first time.  I put on my contact lenses, and fresh makeup so I could look nice.  Let them not think Arab lovers are all dykey-looking, makeupless, grungy people who wear clothes that need serious ironing.

We took a cab over to their home.  I expected a bit of a confrontation, but there was none.  They treated me with kindness, smiles and two large glasses of Coca Cola.  They were going to sit in reserved seats in the VIP section, and they wanted us to sit with them.  We got into the VIP place, I walked passed the mayor while my daughter's boyfriend's parents shook his hand.  I nodded at him, wondering if he already knows I had been to a joint Palestinian/Israeli Nakba/Memorial Day ceremony.  And I sat down to watch the beautiful fireworks display and the various performers in the crowded park from my up front VIP seat. 

3 comments:

lars shalom said...

glad

ajay noronha said...

may your tribe increase! :) Ajay

jerusalemgypsy said...

thank you Ajay!