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On Arab - Jewish Unity


In the confines of a small apartment on the East Side of Manhattan, I shared a studio with an Egyptian exchange student. His name was Ibrahim. This was early in the 80's and we were both attending the same college.  Circumstances beyond our control had thrown the two of us together - an Arab and a Jew.  Each hoping to make the best of what appeared to be a match made in hell,  we danced around each other with a grand display of strict politeness.  We both feared that the formalities would not last.
One Saturday morning, I strolled into the kitchen to put on a pot of fresh coffee, while Ibrahim was sleeping.  Humming to myself, I darted around the kitchen preparing some breakfast, when Ibrahim coughed. The sound took me by surprise and my body jolted. Turning around, I noticed Ibrahim smiling. His clean white teeth offset by his rich mocha-colored skin caught my eye. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to frighten you.." He exclaimed. Slipping from my lips were these words: "I've been thinking about telling you the same thing."

Ibrahim's eyes widened and then it happened; the two of us started to laugh. At first a few chuckles and then an avalanche of hysterical laughter rendered us helpless. With tears in our eyes we sat down across from each other at the table. That was the first day we had coffee together. Over the course of the following days, we discovered a few minor differences and some wonderful similarities. We were both amazed to discover how much we liked each other and how much we disliked about our governments. We became good friends. Ibrahim married a young Irish Catholic  from Long Island and became an American citizen. In the confines of that small apartment, we learned a priceless lesson that our history books and our teachers often fail to teach; human beings have more similarities worth sharing then the differences learned through government - inspired propaganda and religious intolerance.

To believe that it is impossible to achieve warm, cooperative relationships between the peoples living in Palestine and Israel and the Middle East, is to surrender to hatred and hopelessness. Without total annihilation through an atomic detonation, the prospect of destroying or expelling any group of people from the Palestine -Israel area or from the Middle East is virtually impossible. Too numerous in numbers, each group is supported by powerful forces and to expect the permanent residents of this region to be overcome by foreign interlopers is just as unlikely. In resistance to foreign exploiters and foreign oppressive governments, mainstream Arabs and Jews must come to discover that their shared goals and humanity are more important than the ideology of their governments that use violence and bigotry for their own selfish ends. Victims and oppressors must learn to forgive, because it is the only way to combat exploitation and to find peace.

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