He’s teaching me Arabic. I want to learn because I want to know what they are saying about me. And I want to be able to talk with them. We live together. We live apart. We live here.

So, once a week Murad and I meet to talk. He learns more English. And I attempt to speak Arabic. I joke, sometimes because I am nervous, or because I am awkward. He asks me, “what do you want to know?”

“I want to know how to say, ‘how much is that?”
“How are you?”
“What are you doing tonight?”
“I am going to stab you.”

Then I say, “just kidding they won’t tell me they are stabbing me, they are going to just do it.”

I’m half joking. I’m half coping. I’m mostly hoping that somewhere in this dark humor we can find the light.

He laughs, but he also says how much it hurts him that this is happening. This being the current situation. The violence. The terror. He lives in the village next door to me, that celebrated the murder of the three boys, for hours, two years ago. So he apologizes for those actions now. Even though he didn’t celebrate. And he felt hurt by the terrorist attack too.

We hung out a couple of days ago. We didn’t go to a cafe because he is fasting for Ramadan. We talked about marriage laws in our religions, the similarities there and even in music. I made him watch his first episode of Friends (he claims he never heard of it before!) and he talked about Monica.

Then there was another terrorist attack last night. This time a shooting in Tel Aviv. Two terrorists dressed up as religious Jews and ordered a ‘milky brownie,’ at the most delicious chocolate restaurant Max Brenner in one of the trendy parts of Tel Aviv, Sarona Market. It was Ramadan. The fast had just finished. And they were maybe eating their first meal in hours, and their last one too.

They opened fire and killed four Israelis and injured 19. They terrified us. Which is what their terror does. They made it more of the same. Hate. Separation. Fear. Headline News (not using the word terrorist if that can be avoided, of course).

Today, my Facebook timeline is filled with posts about the shooting, from videos to pictures and those saying how they were just there. Those who plan to go there now.

But I didn’t expect a text from Murad saying he is ashamed about what happened. I knew he would be saddened by it. But to write me and say he felt bad.

Murad wrote:
May my condolences bring you comfort and may my prayers ease the pain of what happened yesterday in sarona market in the first week of Ramadan, this is not the way that Palestinian people think, the vast majority want peace…I’m sorry to see these actions

I believe him. Because I know him. But I bet you don’t. Which is what I told him.

Me: It is scary. I mean these guys dressed up as religious Jews and clearly went in for dessert after Ramadan. It’s hard to ignore their intent. And the fact that there are celebrations after…that’s almost worse. I want to know why I should believe that most Palestinians don’t want terror. And I write that because that is what people think…

Murad: I feel sad. I feel that nobody will believe that Arabs are not terrorists. I feel that nobody will believe that the Islam is a religion of peace. These are my feelings.

Me: What if you are right…

Murad: I didn’t understand. I don’t know what do you mean by people will not believe, my interest is to let my friends believe my feelings, friends like you… people who don’t want to believe will not believe forever …. you understand me??

Me: I do…but there are too many on both sides that don’t believe…and so it is not enough to keep convincing the convinced.

Murad: Yes I break my teeth.

Murad is saying what I have heard before. There are Palestinians that want peace but they are too afraid to say it, for the same violence they too may experience. For some reason, there are people like him that are not afraid. And that is why I want you to read his words. To hear them.

I believe if our voice is louder than their violence then we have a chance. I am not naive. Although you may say I am. I live in a neighborhood that is constantly under attack in Jerusalem. He lives in a village that continues to attack my neighborhood. But we are neighbors despite it all. We are now friends. We refuse to let the actions of these terrorist deter us from raising our children in a country we can both live in and not have to die for.

Me: More voices. Less violence

Murad: 🎂😞 Sad

Me: Not sad…we need to get those people to be as brave as you

Murad: I hope that will occur

Me: No hope…we have to do

Murad: Yalla