Arts & Culture

Muslims Vs. Jews: I Don’t Have the Answer, Do You?

I’m standing on the subway platform at Broadway/Lafayette with my friend Abe, a Lebanese guy who has a HUGE schnozolla, which makes me look positively Arayan by comparison. This Hasidic guy with the hat, the beard, the robes, the whole … Read More

By / September 12, 2008

I’m standing on the subway platform at Broadway/Lafayette with my friend Abe, a Lebanese guy who has a HUGE schnozolla, which makes me look positively Arayan by comparison.

This Hasidic guy with the hat, the beard, the robes, the whole deal is looking us over.  Back and forth between Abe and me.  I can’t figure out what this dude is up to.

Slowly, he starts to walk over to us, "Uh-oh," I think, "we’re going to be converted or something."

Now he’s right in front of us and is looking back and forth at both of us.  Finally he makes the decision to speak to Abe, "Which train do I take to Williamsburg?"

I realized that the whole stare down was that he wanted to make sure that he was speaking to a Jew and not some unholy outsider.  Well, he made the wrong choice.  He was speaking to an ARAB and when he got home I’m sure he was going to get one big spanking.  I started laughing and thinking, "Yo, bro, I’m the Jew here, talk to me…"

All this to say that every day I am dismayed by the ongoing subtle and not so subtle war between Arabs and Jews.  This has been bothering me for most of my life.  For some reason I know as many Arabs as I do Jews, actually maybe more, and no one has ever tried to blow me up–or whatever happens between these two peoples.  Yes we talk, yes we disagree, but we are closer than many of my American colleagues.  The sad thing is that we are more similar than we are dissimilar.

I wish we could fix this problem.  It would change the tenor of the world.  Yes, I know that it is easy to heap all the blame on one side, and yes sometimes I do that but that tactic hasn’t worked and isn’t going to work.  I’m not saying this to be all lovey-dovey.  I actually have no solution or suggestions other than to work on this one-on-one. 

In many ways I feel so bad for the Palestinians, not because of the so-called iron hand of the ‘oppressors’ but because of how they are duped by their own people.  The vast majority of people want to be able to see their kids happy and going to school, they want to relax after dinner with their family and maybe have a picnic and a color TV.  They need medication for their sick kids, they need money to eat.  No one talks about the roughly $20 million dollars a year that Arafat’s wife gets from the Palestinians while she lives in Paris (not the cheapest city on the planet) bathed in jewels and spouting crap that she would be proud if her daughter became a suicide bomber but girls don’t do that sort of thing.  What, she is certainly driven by a noble cause, with a deep heart for her people.  That 20 mil would build a school or two, start a new farm, buy people tools.  And that’s not a one time deal, that’s every year.  So while decent people struggle she goes shopping.

Yes, I know it’s all more complicated than this and yes, THEY should fix it and stop shooting missiles at Israel.  But sometimes you just have to try.  I always felt that the day that Bush took office he should have taken Arafat and whoever the Israeli guy was at the time into a room and said, "Look, this crap stops now, you all don’t leave here until we fix this."  But that takes leadership and vision and instead Bush got on his high horse and "refused" to talk to Arafat while casualties mounted on both sides.  I would say that this was not an effective strategy.  We could have made a difference or at least tried to make a difference and didn’t.  So more people died and on it went.

I know everyone will start barking over this and the volume will get turned up and fingers will start pointing.  But there just has to be a better way for all of those involved to lead decent lives and turn away from this makeshift war.  In my life, I always believe there is an answer for everything and a solution for every problem.  I know I have no suggestions but maybe someone smarter than me does because we all need to fix this not only for ourselves and for our children but for God as well. 

Philip Smith spent the last week guest blogging for Jewcy.  This is his farewell post.  Want more?  Check out his book, Walking Through Walls.

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