We Like the Same Yogurt
Posted on June 22nd, 2010
For those of you reading this who may not be aware, I am a Jew living in the town of Neve Daniel — what most of the world would refer to as a West Bank Settlement. I am very comfortable with my rights to this land and do not feel that anything is amiss with Jewish settlement in the heart of Judea. I have no desire to displace Arabs or undermine their lives. I spend my free time riding bikes, not chopping down someone’s olive trees.
The region I live in has both Jewish and Arab towns. From the news, you would get the idea that we are constantly at war with one another. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some terrible acts in the five years we have lived here. People have been killed in gruesome terrorist acts including a young man from Neve Daniel. We are aware that many Palestinian children are indoctrinated to hate Jews from very young ages.
We recently replaced the glass windows on our car after an Arab threw a rock through one of them. Yet terror does not characterize our lives. In fact, if you think about how close Arabs and Jews live to each other out here, the acts of terror have been few and far between. So when something happens, I do not demonize the entire Arab race. I demonize the demon who performed the demonic act. Meanwhile, we live at peace with the vast majority of our Arab neighbors.
Of course a lack of open warfare does not really indicate peace. Arabs and Jews eye each other warily. We use Arab labor to build our homes because Arabs work for a fraction of the price as Jews. Yet it is a relationship based on need. They need jobs and we need cheap (for us) labor. We never see each other as equal human beings. We see them as either bomb throwing terrorists or guys carrying buckets of cement all day. They see us as evil land-stealing thieves or guys who can afford to pay them more than what they would get working for their brethren.
So while I can denounce those who slap the label “Apartheid” on Israel because it paints a picture that does not exist, there is no question that we lead separate lives than the folks in the village just over the hill.
So I was pleasantly surprised by my first visit to the new supermarket in the region. It sits at a crossroads and is equidistant to Jewish and Arab towns. While I expected to see a lot of Arabs working there, I was surprised by how many Arabs were shopping there. For some reason, seeing an Arab woman with kids in her shopping cart trying to find the banana yogurt made me feel really good.
It wasn’t just her. The place is teeming with a mixture of Arabs and Jews, religious and secular. While it does not look so weird to see people working behind the counters together, it does look different to see all these different types of people shopping together. And then it is no longer Arabs and Jews shopping together, just different people looking for the best deals on favorite foods.
Am I being naive for believing that just because we like the same yogurt we can all get along and find peace? Yeah, I know I am. But if you have read any of my earlier posts, you know that I am an optimist. I don’t accept when people say “that’s not possible” because I know there would be no State of Israel if everyone had thought that way.
Peace will never come through long winded documents that have no connection to realities on ground. It will not be established by the UN, the EU, the U.S., or the likes of Bibi Netanyahu or Mahmoud Abbas.
No, peace will always have to be based on people seeing each other as human beings with the same hopes and desires. It will take a very long time, decades perhaps, but it has to start somewhere. And in the yogurt aisle is as good a place as any.
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