Arabs and Apricots

The Arabs, primarily the Palestinians, have a not-so-secret weapon to avoid coming to a peaceful negotiation with Israel. It is called “bukra fil mishmish”. Translated, it makes little sense to a non-Arabic speaker. Loosely it states “tomorrow with the apricots blooming.” It’s true meaning is an old Arabic proverb “maybe tomorrow or some other time,” indicating that there is never a hurry to do something today. It can wait until tomorrow or the tomorrow after tomorrow until no end.

Because of this philosophy, the Palestinians delay any approach to sitting with Israel to discuss the “impossible” peace.

Apricots bloom in one season and generally should be eaten on the day when they are picked to enjoy their sweet freshness. Waiting until “tomorrow” the apricots become mushy and lose much flavor.

So it is with the Palestinian Arabs. They witnessed the peace treaties between Israel and Egypt and Jordan and the results which accompanied the signed peace. But the Palestinian leadership (or rather, lack of leadership) prefers to delay.  “Bukra fil mishmash”.  Not now. Maybe someday. Maybe later.

Perhaps grapes should be substituted for apricots. When fresh, the juice is sweet. When kept too long it turns into sour vinegar. For the past 50 years we have been tasting vinegar rather than sweet apricots.

Famed Arab hospitality constantly serves it to us on heavy platters. Realizing that one must accept Arab hospitality when it is offered, we stretch out our hand to reach for the sweet apricot only to see that we have picked up a bomb instead.

The Western world remains paralyzed. For the past 70 years, no one has been able to reach the apricots on the trees. They are too high and beyond grasp. The familiar words “open sesame” might have opened doors, but they are unable to open apricot trees or to shake them strongly in order to allow the good fruit to fall to the ground unblemished.

Dried grapes become raisins. Dried plums become prunes. But dried apricots remain apricots. And the Palestinian Arabs are in no hurry to harvest them. The elusive fruit has become the elusive peace.

A professor, a former colleague of mine, remarked that the Muslims are our brothers. He was grossly misinformed. The Jews walk in the paths of the righteous Isaac of Israel while the Arabs tread the paths of the treacherous Ishmael of Egypt.

Of interest to me, especially today on the holiday of Purim, are the similarities which the Palestinians seem to have borrowed from the Persians (Iranians) regarding Jewish customs, in particular two words: “masaichot” (masks) and “raashanim” (very loud noises). They, the Palestinians, have covered their faces with masks to conceal their  identity which we definitely recognize and they make noise at the United Nations Security Council, the European Union and every other place where their uplifted vocal complaints against the Jews can be heard.

The wicked figure in the Purim story as recorded in the Scroll of Esther is the prime minister of Persia, Haman the Agagite (Amalekite), whose one and only plan and program was to annihilate every Jew in all the 127 provinces of the Persian empire, stretching from India to Ethiopia..

The Hebrew text explains Haman’s intention in three words. It was to destroy (l’hashmid), to slay (l’harog) and to exterminate (l’abed) every Jew, young and old, men, women, children and infants.

It was Haman’s wicked but failed plan that another tyrant (Hitler) sought successfully to accomplish.

And it is the plan of the masked and noise-making Palestinians today. As Haman’s plans were made known to King Xerxes (Ahasuerus), he was removed from his high office and was hanged from a tree.

So too will be the fate of the Palestinians if their “leaders” follow Haman’s ways.

It is time to reach for the apricot tree and to share its fresh sweet juice, Arabs and Jews drinking together from separate cups.

Beware of eating too many of the poppy-seed and prune-  filled  oznai haman (hamantashen).

Reach for an apricot one instead.

Chag Purim samayach.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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