Friday, August 22, 2008

And now, a word from Morey

I was asked the other day how it felt to be living in, as my friend put it, "the homeland." Not to sound facetious, but it feels like home. Seriously. We were both remarking the other day how oddly normal everything seems. Israel is an fascinating mix of European, Middle Eastern and American sensibilities which somehow matches our personal inclinations. Israel is also a place of contradictions, both wondrous and difficult. There's no question that a social imbalance exists; we're living in a modern Israeli city being built and maintained by essentially by Arab and foreign labour.

Yet, the other day the most interesting thing happened. I was on my regular bus to the mall. The driver was a charming Arab woman (try to find a female bus driver in any Arab country). We took on a couple of passengers who sat at the front next to me; they looked like a middle aged mother and her 20-something son. A few minutes later the driver spotted an elderly Arab woman in traditional dress walking with some difficilty in the midday-heat, stopped the bus and beckoned her to board (for a free ride - an action I completely support). The 20-something guy leaned toward the driver and asked, "At Aravi?" (Are you Arab?). She responded yes, and then they all began babbling away in Arabic. As the old lady joined in, I looked around and realized that I was the only Jew on this bus in Modi'in, the modern, Jewish city. Fantastic!

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