Esor Ben-Sorek

Going Arab

The international news grows more interesting day by day. Last week it was the announcement of peace accords between us and the United Arab Emirates. Today another Gulf state has joined the peace party.

Bahrain is set to sign a peace agreement with us at the White House when president Trump, “father of peace”, will sign the accords between Israel and so-far two Gulf states.

I am suggesting that when Trump signs in his unusual sprawled signature, he signs in both Arabic and Hebrew the names befitting to him. Arabic: Abu Salaam and Hebrew: Av Shalom. Both very appropriate.

So with all the exciting news, I hastened to my local tailor to make for me a lovely long white thawb extending from my shoulders to my ankles.

From there I went to my haberdasher to create for me a fitting keffiyeh. I already have the black agal from many years ago. (Hope it will still fit on my Jewish “keppeleh”.)

The major problem in this new outfit of mine is the question of the keffiyeh. Should it be all white or should it be checkered with red? Which color is more befitting to a traditional Jewish male?

My temporary itinerary would include a flight from Tel-Aviv to Dubai, probably on an Israir plane with separate seating for orthodox Muslims and less-than-orthodox Jews. And of course, it goes without saying, all males will be seated in rows 1-50 and all women in rows 55-57. Social distancing is required.

One week in the United Arab Emirates which now provide kosher meals in all hotels under kosher supervision, followed by another flight to Manama, the 157,000 populated capital city of Bahrain.

It is said that a small population of Jews from the Mesopotamian region lived in Bahrain some 4,000 years ago but there are no records to support it.

The famed Greek historians Strato and Herodotus were both in agreement that the ancient Phoenicians came from Bahrain (then called Dilmun) and that it was the origin of their homeland.

Eventually, they as a sea-faring people, made their way north and arrived in what is today’s Lebanon.

King Solomon entered into trade relations with the Phoenician king Hiram who ruled in the city of Tyre. It was Hiram who provided the wood (from the renowned cedars of Lebanon) for the building of the Jerusalem Temple.

Phoenician workers were sent from Tyre to help in the construction of the Temple. During their long stay in Jerusalem they obviously had sexual relationships with Hebrew women and thus, the Phoenician population became a part of the land of Israel.

Some of them no doubt returned to Dilmun (Bahrain) and therefore there is Jewish blood in that tiny island nation in the Gulf.

Wondering if I should extend my Gulf visits in order to hopefully plant my feet on the soil of Mecca or Medina, but of course, I cannot make the pilgrimage to the Kaaba shrine of the prophet Mohammed.

So I will have to return to Israel as plain old me without the Haj prefix attached to my name.

We are living in wondrous times. If we could only be eliminated from the corona pandemic and the Netanyahu curse our prayers to the God of the Jews (and, I suppose, to all other ), our prayers would be answered and our faith strengthened.

Bibi and Sara, forced by an angry public to give up their dream of flying on a private jet at the immense cost to the Israeli tax-payer, will fly as members of an Israeli delegation to the historic signing of peace accords in the Gulf.

And while Bibi is signing, Sara can go shopping . Or has anyone failed to inform her that Bahrain is the world’s largest source of fresh-water pearls?

Anyhow, while they are going signing, I am returning to my tailor to adjust the length of my thawb. After all, if I am going to an Arab country, I must surely be going Arab.

So for now, Salaam aleikum or a Hebrew shalom.

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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