Shayna Abramson

I Am Part of The Problem

Today I read about Mohammad Zoabi, an Israeli Arab who released a Youtube video in support of the three kidnapped Jewish Israeli boys and is now facing death threats because of it, even from members of his own family. I wanted to reach out and show my support, but I couldn’t find him on Facebook. Some quick research revealed that there have been isolated Israeli Arab voices of sympathy for the kidnapped boys, but it revealed little about how to reach out to these supporters, who now face death threats from the rest of the Arab community.

I published a Facebook status about this problem in the hopes of crowd-sourcing, but so far, all it seems to have done is spurred people to remind me that many Arabs are on the side of the kidnappers. But I’m not sure why that should prevent me from expressing gratitude to the Arabs who do support us – if anything, it only makes the case for gratitude stronger.

My frustration at not being able to contact Zoabi reminded me of when my TV came this week: It was delivered by two Arab men, and when they left, bearing Elite chocolate bars, I wondered if I had missed a major opportunity to reach out to the “other side”, simply because, despite using the same buses and shops as Arabs on a daily basis, the occasions in which it is socially acceptable for us to interact are so rare.

Of course, there are official forums for Israelis and Palestinians to discuss the conflict, though relatively few (by which I mean: none to my knowledge) for Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs (or for Israelis and Palestinians) to just chill, and discuss the World Cup over a cup of coffee. The one or two friends who go to the existing meetings describe them as alternatively shallow, hampered by language barriers, and a waste of time. That’s not because they don’t believe in the validity of dialogue – they simply don’t believe in the validity of dialogue as currently carried out by most existing organizations.

But yesterday, there was an interfaith prayer rally, where Jews, Muslims, and Christians came together in Gush Etzion, the area the boys were kidnapped from, to pray for their safe return. The rally was part of Tag Meir, a movement to form bridges between Jews and Arabs that was founded as a response to price tag attacks. I’m sure it was very moving, but I’m not positive: Because I didn’t go.

You see, having already skipped out on lunch with my grandmother-in-law in order to engage in vocational training, I didn’t want to cancel evening plans with my husband and his friends who were visiting from England. After four months of marriage, I’m still trying to figure out what this whole “wife” thing is about, and skipping out on two pre-arranged meetings in one day, even for legitimate purposes, fell on the “bad wife” column of the imaginary list I keep in my head.

But I wonder how many times these rallies are empty because of people like me: People who are well-meaning, but just have someplace better to be. A friend told me that the reason the Tag Meir movement doesn’t get a lot of media coverage, is that no-one is interested in moderately nice people. Maybe the problem is that we have a lot of moderately nice people, when in fact, we need radically nice people.

“Radically nice”. I’m not even sure what that entails. It sounds kind of like the love-song you sing to the girl who you’re trying to break up with, but you’re not quite sure how.

But if there’s anytime to start experimenting with the phrase’s definition, it’s now – because moments of national crisis require national unity, and that includes all segments of the nation.

So to any Israeli-Arab supporters: Thank you, and I look forward to the day we discuss soccer while sipping some coffee.

And on that note: Go Brazil!

About the Author
Shayna Abramson, a part-Brazilian native Manhattanite, studied History and Jewish Studies at Johns Hopkins University before moving to Jerusalem. She has also spent some time studying Torah at the Drisha Institute in Manhattan, and has a passion for soccer and poetry. She is currently pursuing an M.A. in Political Science from Hebrew University, and is a rabbinic fellow at Beit Midrash Har'el.
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