Thursday afternoon I went with my daughter (D.E.), her fiancée (Yaacov), and his father to buy ceramic tiles for the bath. It had become obvious that the pipes in the bath are completely shot. Even the tub had minute holes, leading to seepage underneath.
Now Yaacov’s father has an Arab acquaintance who deals in ceramics, so we left at 3:00 pm to go buy tiles. For some reason we were delayed in our arrival. The workers at the tiles store were about to break their daily fast (of the month of Ramadan), and we had to wait. Dusk slowly fell. On one building after another, festive lights strung up in the shape of the Moslem crescent were lit. The half-mooned shapes adorning several rooftops were silhouetted against the orange-red, and later, purple sky.
Now all of my sons, and Yaacov are amused with me, because I am a real “scaredy cat” when it comes to going to Arab areas in Israel, and certainly it was not my cup of tea to be sitting there for two hours as darkness fell. (And this, especially after my daughter’s fiancée had told me only an hour earlier the story of how he was nearly killed in an Arab “lynch” five years ago.) Even my adult sons know that if they go to pray at a holy site (with a group) in one of the Arab sections of the country, it pays to tell Mom only after the fact. They distinguish between Arab areas and the Palestinian ones, the former being relatively safe, and the later not.
Our host, in typical Arab hospitality, brought drinks and fresh fruit. (I didn’t partake, not knowing if everything was 100% kosher-even fresh fruit is a problem some years.) This middle-aged man sat joking with Yaacov’s father. Later his younger sister, who looked very friendly, came over to talk with us. However, it quickly became apparent that she knows no Hebrew at all. So Yaacov and his father did all the conversing. I smiled. And Ricki laughed. Every joke elicited laughs from Yaacov, his father, and Ricki. Of course, Ricki does not know Arabic. But she reads social prompts, and laughs on cue.
I reflected on how much the conflict of our peoples hurts us. Wouldn’t it be nice if there could be peace? If I could go unafraid to an Arab village, if there could be true give-and –take without needing to be on guard. This young woman really looked friendly, and probably is .But lack of trust is poisonous.
Finally we went to buy the ceramics. When haggling over the price of the transportation, D.E. forgot where she was, and said, “Oh, we’ll just hire some Arabs to do it cheaper.” The man gave her a look, and I was afraid that our good deal on drains was going to go down the drain. I quickly piped up, “But the untrained workers that you are thinking of are not as reliable as this man’s workers.” I made a counter-offer, and the deal was sealed.
I told Yaacov that he has to be here when they deliver the stuff. I don’t have the experience to know if everything ordered has been delivered or not. And- I still don’t trust Arabs. Even if they serve me tea and grapes.