Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mixed Couples

I have recurring dreams.  I am usually hiding from Nazis, in a countryside barn, trying not to make a sound, so they don't hear me.  I'm never found, but the dream is nevertheless terrifying.  It's a blur whether it's a memory from a past life or an unfortunate comparison to a current one.

There have been rallies in Israel of late, coming from the far right wing - Posters and chants go something like this "Don't rent homes or sell to Arabs" "Jewish women for the Jewish nation" "Death to the Arabs" "Foreigners Out". 

No wonder I'm terrified in my sleep.  I'm terrified in my waking hours.  My parents are Holocaust escapees from Austria and if you insert the following - it reads eerily like Germany, 1938.

"Don't rent homes or sell to Jews"
"German women for the German state" (German women who dated Jews were paraded in public and ridiculed)
"Death to the Jews" - "The Jews are our Misfortune" "Jews Out"

I rarely get depressed but was depressed about the rallies against Arabs in Jewish neighborhoods and stories about Jewish gangs beating up Arabs in Jerusalem.  My dad also was cornered by a gang of Nazis, who were about to thump him, but he somehow broke away and ran real fast, hopping on to a moving trolley, losing the bastards.

Meanwhile, in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev, Jews are complaining about Arabs moving into this neighborhood.  Many of the new residents are Christian Arabs, and some are Moslem.  Gangs of Jews walk around the malls making sure Arabs don't hustle Jewish girls. 

And my daughter has a young friend who is married to an Arab.  They have an infant son and live in Pisgat Zeev.  Somehow word got out to the husband about me and they invited me to their home for dinner.  I guess that Jews who like Arabs are such a rarity, they wanted to meet one up close.  I entered the home, and the husband greeted me warmly and introduced me to his two brothers.  They spoke perfect Hebrew with no "Arab" accent. 

"He's going to have a hard life" - the husband told me, pointing to his infant son.

I had to agree.  But they already  had the YMCA Arab/Jewish nursery and kindergarten and Hand-in-Hand Arab/Jewish elementary school picked out for their young son - it would make perfect sense for their child to go there.

We talked about my dialogue groups; they insisted I was a "leftist" even though I said I was politically in the middle.  They lived in Pisgat Zeev for 15 years and it was difficult at first, they endured plenty of beatings and nasty neighbors.  My daughter's friend had a hard time with (ex) friends who called her "the whore who went out with Arabs" after she began dating her husband four years ago.

"He treats you well?" I asked her. 
"Everyone should have a husband like him" she replied.  I had to ask.  After all, so many people think Arabs beat their wives and if they're married to Jews,  treat their Jewish wives like shit. 

She had dated a physically abusive Jewish man before she met her husband. 

Abusive men are all over the place - they span all religions and cultures.

"What religion will you raise him?" I asked.

The father said he'll be raised both Moslem and Jewish. According to Islam, the boy is Moslem, after the father's religion.  According to Judaism, the boy is Jewish, according to the Jewish religion.  I guess he would have to be both religions.

They had gone to Toronto for a visit, and it seemed like a wonderful multi-cultural place in which to bring up their son, but the husband didn't want to leave his large family, who have been very warm and accepting to his Jewish wife.

Later that evening, she drove me home.  I suggested Haifa as a place that might be good for them - it seems like the most tolerant city and probably has many mixed couples.  They hadn't had racist rallies there.

Haifa?  Do you really think so?   Perhaps it will be a good idea.  She seemed to like my suggestion.

I sensed a bit of hope in her weary eyes. 

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