Esor Ben-Sorek

The flight or the “fright” of my history

Unbelievable! Simply unbelievable! I had sent Jared Kushner a letter thanking him for forwarding to me a signed portrait-size colorful photo of a smiling American president Donald John Trump.

In his Jewish gratitude for my thanks, he invited me to join him on the historic flight on El-Al’s great adventure over Saudi skies to a comfortable landing in Abu Dhabi, capitol of the United Arab Emirates in the Gulf States.

I think president Trump OK’d it because he mistook the Gulf States for the Golf States.

Neverthelesss, upon arriving in Saudi Arabian airspace I stood up and shouted a loud “Allahu Akbar” but was immediately strapped to my seat with my mouth taped by a lovely looking ElAl stewardess (not the Sara Netanyahu type).

Arriving and walking on the red welcome carpet I was asked if I was hungry. Hearing my positive response I was escorted to the dignataries’ dining hall. Looking at the extensive menu and unfamiliar with the names of the foods, I asked only for a small portion of falafel with an Israeli salad of chopped vegetables.

Instead, a young waiter in traditional garb and turban set before me a large dish of gefilte fish with a choice of red or white hot horseradish and a huge slice of lokshen kugel (noodle pudding for the unfamiliar).

He asked me if I would prefer a hot bowl of turkey or beef cholent. (the unfamiliar will have to remain unfamiliar. I’m not giving away family cuisine secrets).

Two tall pitchers on the table loaded with ice cubes. A choice of iced coffee or iced tea. No chance whatsoever of a Maccabi or a Tuborg beer and a Mexican Corona cerveza would be cause for imprisonment. Filthy words are not allowed in Abu Dhabi.

The rest of the historic visit is now dulled in my memory. All that I do remember is the sound of my daughter’s voice shouting “abba, abba, wake up. You are dreaming again”.

Well I cannot say that I enjoyed my historic flight of history. It ended up as my fright of flight.

But the only part that is absolutely true happens to be the lovely portrait photo I did receive from president Trump. It hangs on my wall underneath the autographed photo of the late Israeli “saint”, Menachem Begin.

How immensely proud he would have been to witness this historic day in our nation’s history. First it was Egypt. Then it was the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan., Now the seven Arab gulf states with whispers of Sudan and the kingdom of Morocco hopefully soon to follow. (insh’Allah. Im yirtzeh Hashem.)

Spoiled legacy or not, much of the credit is due to prime minister Netanyahu with the helpful aid of his American friend, president Donald John Trump (at least for now. November is only 3 months away).

As important an event as the agreements and historic flights, more important concerns to the citizens (non-politicians) of Israel are : “when will a vaccine be available? When will the death numbers begin to rapidly decline? When can malls and shopping centers be open once again to an un-masked public? When will businesses re-open and employment be strengthened? When can all schools in all grades be re-opened with children eager to learn? When will “chassidim” and “haredim:” cease to be dirty words?

When can we run to escape the searing rays of sun in an unusual nation-wide heat wave to the cooling waters of the nearest spot on a Mediterranean shore? When can we shake hands again without wearing gloves? When can we embrace our friends and loved family members with hugs and kisses without fear?

And of course, when will a United Arab Emirate or embassy open in order for us to request and to obtain a visitor’s visa to the glorious magic of the Gulf (Sorry, president Trump… NOT Golf)?”

My daughter who had informed me that I was dreaming asked me what my dream was all about.

When I told her the story of my historic El-Al flight to the Emirates, she looked at me, her mouth open in astonishment and with only one word to her old abba :

“Hishtagata”? Have you gone crazy?” (I like the similar phrase in Yiddish much better. “nu? bist du meshuggeh?”).

Only my readers can answer her.

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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