Sunday, June 04, 2006

"We hope to show everyone there's a different way"

Michael Sfard compares this Israeli-Palestinian couple to Romeo and Juliet.

I wonder how they met, what he said to her that made him human and then special, why he didn't just recede as just another speck in Israel's vastness of ethnic otherness...

I wonder how it feels to be married for two years and still have to fight for the right to live together, to wait for the state to respect and recognize your union, to apologize and explain yourself in social situations.

She says, "We hope to show everyone there's a different way." I'd like to say to her, Congratulations. I'd like to say, Yes, thank you for showing us that there is a different way.

In the year that i spent in Jerusalem at the end of the century, to my outsider's eyes, social connections seemed overly polarized--the Jewish friends that i made at Hebrew University had no Palestinian friends and remembered very little to nothing of the Arabic they learned in school; my doctor and the people i shared bus seats with and talked to on the street were Arabic and had extensive familial (and hence mostly ethnically homogenous) relationships as well.

Both sides claimed to be fond of India--the Palestinians because they still remembered Arafat and Indira Gandhi and India's decision, as a newly independent state itself, not to be a signatory to the formation of a zionist Israeli state in 1948; the Israelis enjoyed pointing out India's long history of Jewish non persecution and having recently discovered that they shared common enemies with an India under the BJP were entering into all sorts of trade and military agreements.

And in situations where politics didn't come up, their fondness for India and me by extension was that much less complicated--they just sang songs from Hindi movies to me :).

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