Hostages to brief memory of peace

Fights between Israelis, Palestinians nothing like between husband and wife

Alison and I always sigh as we think about the summer before the collapse of the peace process.


We traveled to Israel and Palestine visiting relatives and historic sites throughout both countries.


We can argue forever about who is to blame for the collapse of the negotiations, but we can’t argue that we came as close as possible to experiencing what peace might one day be like.


Of course, achieving peace between Arabs and Israelis is difficult. Yet more challenging is resolving the age-old conflict between husbands and wives.


As most readers know, my wife Alison, is Jewish and I am Christian. During the trip, we visited my relatives in Jerusalem, Nazareth and Ramallah, and many Jewish and Christian holy sites.


We ate ice cream along a cobblestone street in Petach Tikvah, ordered fish at a crowded restaurant overlooking the Caesaria beach, and spent evenings reminiscing over Taybeh beer at Stones in Ramallah.


'That wasn't pizza. It was a bagel'


We toured Hebron, met an Israeli settler south of the Dead Sea who claimed he was selling “pizza,” and paused along the roadside to watch wild camels sail the desert sands.


We explored the remains of a long lost synagogue in Jericho, toured Nazareth, and bought masonry souvenirs from roadside stands in Nablus.


Who could forget the majestic glow around Jerusalem and the golden Dome of the Rock seen from a hotel balcony?


Or the arguments.


“That wasn’t very nice telling the settler that pizza is supposed to have tomato paste, meat and cheese on it,” Alison huffed.


“That wasn’t a pizza. That was a bagel,” I said.


Or the nagging question, “We’ve been driving a long time. Do we have enough gas?”


But nothing is more annoying that arguing about which way to turn. Alison is a backseat driver and I won’t take directions from my wife.


“What do you mean ‘we’ are lost?” Alison asked with perturbed emphasis. “You are driving.”


The more she told me to turn one way, the more I turned the other.


It doesn’t matter whether you are an Arab or a Jew. Husbands never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity to take directions from their wives. But more humiliating is having to stop to ask for directions.


'Are you OK?'


The place I chose was a docile Israeli military outpost in the Jordan Valley. One of the soldiers, who we later learned was an American named Jason, carefully peered inside our rented car with a puzzled expression.


First, he looked at my wife, who has blonde hair and blue eyes. And then he looked at me, with my jet black hair and dark brown, almost black eyes.


And then he looked back at Alison, maybe just a little concerned, and asked her - not me, her - in Hebrew, “Are you OK?”


When he realized she didn’t speak Hebrew, he repeated it in English.


Once he realized Alison wasn’t my hostage, we spent the next 30 minutes laughing about his concerns, talking about his homeland, New Jersey, and sharing in our hope that this brief respite from conflict would last.


With directions in hand, we were on our way back. But that experience later came in handy.


Returning to Jerusalem, we soon found ourselves in a kosher pickle entering the heart of one of the city’s main Hassidic neighborhoods, which is festooned with large signs cautioning all women to dress modestly.


Alison definitely could not pass the dress code, and all I had to cover her up was a black and white checkered kafiyeh, the kind Yasser Arafat used to wear.


The choice was simple. Either make people angry because you appeared to be immodest and disrespectful, or make people angry because you looked like a member of the International Solidarity Movement.


The choice was simple. Better to look disrespectful.


At least if our car were stopped, Alison could plead she was just a tourist and I a hapless taxi driver who got lost.


If that didn’t work, she could always claim she was my hostage. Oh, I know how much she’d enjoy that.


Ray Hanania is a Palestinian-American writer, peace activist and standup comedian who was raised in Chicago. Hanania has been a champion of Palestinian rights while also advocating peaceful compromise. He is from a Christian family; his father is from Jerusalem, his mother from Bethlehem. His wife and son are Jewish. He is the founder of "Comedy for Peace," which hopes to bring joint Palestinian and Israeli comedy appearances to Israel and Palestine. This new column is exclusive for Ynetnews


פרסום ראשון: 05.31.05, 18:07
 new comment
This will delete your current comment