We’re schlepping on, here in the fading Jewish empire, as we clutch at straws, helplessly watching our beautiful homeland going to the dogs. We’re coveting the glorious naiveté of envisioning the fulfillment of what we learned in kindergarten, that we have to share.

I am learning Arabic, finally, since I want to talk with those I’m sharing with. We will go on warming ourselves at the fire of Sulha, where last time, nineteen-year-old Palestinian Amjad engaged with an Israeli guy who will be a soldier in three months. They hit it off, and by the end of the evening the Palestinian didn’t want to get on the bus back to Kalandia roadblock. Finally, in parting, Amjad hugged Gadi and told him, “You be careful when you’re in the army….” The next time they meet, Gadi may be armed, in uniform with his squad manning the roadblock where Amjad’s sister needs to get through for her dialysis.

And here I am, hoping that Gadi’s experience at the tribal fire will have strengthened his caring about the other, this other. I catch myself in a moment of grimly resigning to endlessly sending our children to man the roadblocks, catch myself accepting a kinder worst-case scenario. While in the world we must create, Gadi will be drinking coffee with Amjad and his family, in their village deep inside Palestine. This superfluous, avoidable disaster called the status quo can be handled.

As Abu Mazen, our steadfast partner, proclaims the state that sooner or later will rise beside us, Netanyahu comes alive with revenge, building 3,000 new apartments for settlers and thieving the Palestinian Authority of the tax payments that are theirs.

What will make Netanyahu right is when the Palestinians or Iranians ignite horrid attacks on us. He needs that to happen. Without his war or a new intifada, Netanyahu knows he will be naked to the world, his holocaust-clinging, fear-inspiring war cry revealed to have been for naught.

No, his dark, quiet celebration will happen when he is shuttered at home, as the sirens roar through the Jerusalem streets below the apartment, shipping the latest coffee-shop bombings mangled victims to hospital.

Through it all, we will meet monthly to hug our brothers and sisters. The cautious Hebron youths attending their first tribal fire will gingerly respond to our greeting. We’ll tell our stories, we’ll share what we’ve lived, we’ll eat good soup together. As we gather around the fire, they will reach out with their calloused laborers’ and soft students’ hands and we’ll look into each others’ faces. And we’ll sing in Hebrew and Arabic and English, relentlessly laying the cornerstone for the loving and cooperative living that inevitably will come.

 


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