The Arab Worker

A siren just sounded in Israel – even before it did, a motorcyclist stopped across the street and took off his helmet. Across the street, workers came out of a building to stand and wait. People were walking up the street. All stopped when the siren started. Cars stopped and people got out and stood at attention.

All…all but the Arab worker from downstairs. He walked out smoking a cigarette with a cup of coffee in his hand. He looked out at the street, leaned insolently against a car for a few seconds as we all stood there. He turned and walked back towards the building, and then again out to the street. This was all in the two minutes we stood there in silence – all a show of disrespect for our silent, frozen moments of mourning. You could see it in the smirk on his face, the slouch against the car compared to those in the street standing at attention.

No, there was no innocence here, no attempt to be anything but what he was – contemptuous of what we are, of what we were doing. I wondered what he thought when he watched us. Actually, I think I know. I think he thought we were weak and perhaps even a bit pathetic. His people don’t seem to mourn this way. To stand out in the street for all the world to see our pain. He doesn’t, I think, really understand us, and he never will. but I have to confess, I don’t understand him either. I don’t understand the disrespect for life that is prevalent in a culture that encourages children younger than him to strap explosives on themselves and explode.

I have to admit, I was angry at him. It is our sadness, our anger, our pain all there on display, out in the street, where no one can miss it. And, as I thought about it, my anger went away and pity came in its place. I pity that Arab who does not understand, who can show contempt to our suffering, our mourning.

Let him enjoy his cigarette and his coffee. Let him feel a small sense of triumph and superiority. Let him.

Because I know, I know that I would rather mourn today than be part of a culture that does what his culture does. We do not celebrate death as they do. We do not. There is one bit of comfort in watching the disrespect shown by the Arab worker…and that is tonight.

Tonight…in a few short hours, we will do the unimaginable – as we do each year. Now, to the depth of our souls, we mourn…tonight, to the heights of the heavens, we will celebrate. Tonight begins Israel Independence Day and as deeply as we mourn, that deeply will we celebrate.

He can smoke and drink his coffee now…in silent victory that we mourn. Tonight, we will answer him with our greatest response. All that we lost was so that tonight, we could dance!

15 Comments on The Arab Worker

  1. I, too, pity the young Arab worker and his contemporaries. Can you imagine the propaganda that they hear? In order to motivate thousands of Arab commoners, the leaders have taught that death and martyrdom are the desired path? It boggles my mind.

    Just as surely as we in the West are taught that freedom and life are the desired path, they are taught that death is the ultimate goal. What a depressing existence it must be to hear that propaganda repeated day-in and day-out — the Jews are the problem. The Americans are the problem. Death and martyrdom are the only way to reach nirvana/heaven.

    I pity him, and I salute you, and all of Israel. Happy Independence Day! Dance with wild abandon and celebrate life, love and liberty. Something they will not likely experience…

  2. Anonymous // May 9, 2011 at 4:16 pm // Reply

    I pray that one day you will go in to the West Bank and interact with your Palestinian neighbors with an open mind and listen to the stories of those who you do not understand.

    I pray that one day you’ll read the words of Father Elias Chacour, any words, or that you’ll take time to read his book “Blood Brothers” ( to learn about what it means to be a Palestinian forced from their village. I pray that maybe you’ll even be willing to visit the work going on in I’billin.

    I pray that one day you will hear someone from an organization in your own country, The Parents Circle ( speak.

    I pray that one day you’ll be able to see the National Geographic show called “The Last Christians of Bethlehem” and understand how heartbreaking it is to *this* Christian that the Christians of the Holy Land are having to leave the birthplace of my Lord, Jesus Christ, because of the economic impact of the wall your government is building.

    I pray that one day you’ll be able to truly understand that so many of the Palestinians are working for peace by connecting with Israeli’s, through actions of non-violent resistance, and that what you witness in the bombs lobbed at Israel is actually a small minority of those working to oppose the actions of your government.

    Theodore Herzel said that you are a people without a land, and that the land you live on is a land without a people. He was wrong about the second part – the land you live on has been someone’s land for thousands of years. Those people deserve to be heard, just as you deserve to be heard.

    I am sorry that my government did not hear your people cry out during the Holocaust. I am sorry that President Roosevelt, while knowing how the Jews of Germany were being treated before any camp was built did nothing to open the boarders of my country to them. I am deeply and mournfully sorry that after President Roosevelt and other western leaders knew what was happening in the Warsaw Ghetto and Auschwitz did nothing to stop the genocide of your people. I truly am. I am sorry that the Jewish people have had to struggle with thousands of years of anti-semitism. I really am. It makes me wonder though, how a people who know what it is liked to be killed, threatened and spit upon can do the same thing to the people they share a land with. I do not understand how, rather than learning how to love and honor, the message many of your people have learned is how to do the same thing done to them. I do not understand how you learned to oppress rather than to respect.

    This is anonymous because you come across as a very loving mother, wife, and Israeli, but yet you also come across as a very angry woman towards those who disagree with you. I am to weak to suffer the wrath of your anger sent to me personally. I will tell you, I am a 43 year old mother from Utah, but born and raised in the Episcopal Church in the Southeastern United States.

  3. Anonymous // May 9, 2011 at 4:19 pm // Reply

    PS. Yes, it’s me again, the 43 year old Episcopalian from Utah, USA.

    I forgot, I do not know how you will take this, but here is a quote from Father Elias Chacour. It was said while he was here in the United States giving a commencement address at Emory University.

    “You who live in the United States, if you are pro-Israel, on behalf of the Palestinian children I call unto you: give further friendship to Israel. They need your friendship. But stop interpreting that friendship as an automatic antipathy against me, the Palestinian who is paying the bill for what others have done against my beloved Jewish brothers and sisters in the Holocaust and Auschwitz and elsewhere.

    And if you have been enlightened enough to take the side of the Palestinians — oh, bless your hearts — take our sides, because for once you will be on the right side, right? But if taking our side would mean to become one-sided against my Jewish brothers and sisters, back up. We do not need such friendship. We need one more common friend. We do not need one more enemy, for God’s sake.”

  4. My response to the “43 year old Episcopalian from Utah” —

    I pray that one day YOU will go to visit Israel and interact with the people who live there, Arabs, Christians, Druze, and Jews alike, with an open mind and listen to the stories of those whom you do not understand.

    I pray that one day you will read many of the books about Jewish history and learn what it means to be a Jew, forced from his/her home in Israel by many of the various nations who “occupied” Israel, and were forced to flee and to live in other countries n which they were unwelcome, disbarred by law from owning property, forced into questionable occupations as a result, and pursued by good Christians like yourself as heretics and witches and burned at the stake for refusing to believe as you do. I hope you read about the Holocaust and how Hitler demonized Jews in the eyes of his people in much the same way Israeli’s/Jews are demonized by the Palestinians whose children are learning to hate and to kill.

    I pray that one day you will hear the stories of Israeli victims of terror in your own country. A good organization is the One Family Fund:

    I pray that you will one day value the lives of Israeli’s over the “economic impact” of the wall on the other side.

    I pray that one day you’ll be able to truly understand that so many of the Palestinians are working to destroy Israel, the Jews AND America (and that means you missy) by taking money from the US (YOU AGAIN) and using it to fund acts of terror and the building of an infrastructure aimed at the destruction of Israel, including educating their children to hate Jews AND Christian, essentially anyone who is not Muslim.

    That “someone’s land” for thousands of years are Jews….

    You have it backward. It is NOT the Jews who kill, threaten and spit on others. It is the so-called Palestinians who do this to the Jews and to Christians and to all NON Muslims. It is in the charter of Hamas to destroy the Jews to destroy Israel. They send thousands of missiles into Israel. They send suicide bombers into Israel. They booby trap ambulances. They hide behind civilians, women and children. The Arabs who live in Israel live in peace and are NOT oppressed. Respect is a two way street.

    I think ‘A Soldiers Mother’ comes across as a rational, loving human being, who respects LIFE rather than DEATH as the Palestinians do. It is they who have said about Israel that we love life more….

  5. This is in response to the 43 year old mother from Utah:

    With all due respect, I believe you are reading something into Paula’s posts that isn’t there.

    You say she is “very angry with those who disagree with you”. Do you mean the thousands of Palestinians belonging to Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, et al? Sure, she probably is angry with them. They have a stated goal of ridding the world of Jews. Wouldn’t you be angry if the Methodists in Wyoming, Idaho and Nevada decided to summarily kill all Episcopalians in Utah? THAT’S THE REALITY of her life as a Jew living in Israel!

    But don’t confuse her anger with hatred and an unwillingness to reach a peaceful end to this mess in the Middle East. The fundamentalists Islamic terrorists HATE Jews (and Christians, etc.) Most of my Jewish acquaintances don’t hate their enemy. Just the opposite. They wish and pray that their Arabs neighbors could embrace the culture of life that most Israelis embrace. Not the culture of death we see so deeply rooted in Hamas, Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, etc.

    I hope that you’ll read some of Paula’s other posts where she discusses her interactions with non-Jewish Israelis. There are Druze, Christians and Muslims who aren’t consumed with blood-lust and I imagine Paula works and interacts with these individuals on a weekly basis (correct me if I’m wrong, Paula).

    I’ve never seen Paula exhibit a blood-lust for Muslim Arabs — quite the contrary. She wants to be left in peace to live her life, raise her family, earn her living and continue her eternal fight with Orange cellular.

    The old adage is true: If Palestinians would put down their weapons today, there would be peace in the Middle East tomorrow. If Israelis put down their weapons today, there would be no Israel tomorrow.

    Please keep working for a peaceful solution to the culture of death. Keep educating Arabs (Muslims) and Christians about the plight of the Jews living in Israel. How they are subjected to hundreds of mortar shells, roadside attacks with stones, mid-night murders in their own homes. Once we can eliminate these regular events, I think we’ll have a footing where each side can speak openly about the rights of Christians and Muslims in Israel… until then, I think a wall is a non-violent solution to their security issues.

    Paula, If I have misrepresented anything, please accept my apology and please feel free to correct me.


  6. Anonymous, submitted for your study:

    And also remember who took over the Church of the Nativity… and in what condition they left it when they finally left.

    And the idea that the Palestinians are paying any kind of price because of Jewish suffering is — excuse my language — a total crock. They are paying the price for their leadership, which is more concerned with their own personal wealth than with the welfare of the Palestinian people. All those billions of dollars in aid from the US and the EU — where are they now? Not in improved schools, hospitals, and workplaces for the Palestinian people, certainly.

  7. Hi 43 year old Episcopalian from Utah,

    I think you might have missed the important part of this blog where I explain that I live in the West Bank and so your request that I visit it “one day” is a bit…off. I “visit” it every day – I live here. I interact with Palestinians – at least those that work in my city. I cannot interact with Palestinians who don’t come here to work because, if I am lucky, I’ll be arrested for breaking Israeli law and if I’m not lucky, I’ll be murdered by Palestinians waiting for an Israeli to enter “their” areas.

    You are missing a large chunk of history when you explain your version of the history of this land. For one thing – though many, perhaps even most Jews were forced out of this land two thousand years ago, it was not all Jews – there is a clear and documented history of Jews always being in this land. Further, when the Jews returned in larger numbers, much of the land was purchased legally from absentee land owners. Hebron is a prime example where Jews lived and legally owned areas – until 1929 and 1936 when they were massacred, THEIR lands stolen from them to this very day. This is not the “thousands” of years you write about, not even 100 years, and despite land deeds and clear evidence, still Jews do not have their land there.

    You are also missing the important information that the 1948 war started because the Palestinians refused a UN-declared plan to split the land between what they saw as the two rightful owners. Jews were to accept half of what we claimed as ours; Arabs were to claim half of what they claimed as theirs.

    Historically, there are few who can argue that the Jews have the stronger claim. No one claims the Palestinians have been here for “thousands of years.” They never existed as a people until well after Israel’s creation and many say they still don’t. There is no “Palestinian cuisine” – no “Palestinian music” – no history that dates back even 100 years, let alone 1000. The same can most definitely NOT be said about the Jews and Israel.

    We accepted the Partition Plan because we wanted to live in peace – they chose war. Five Arab nations invaded Israel within hours of its creation and have been attacking ever since.

  8. Another comment – you write that the majority of Palestinians offer “non-violent resistance, and that what you witness in the bombs lobbed at Israel is actually a small minority of those working to oppose the actions of your government.”

    So first – you are wrong. 83% of the Palestinians approved of the terrorist attack on a yeshiva that resulted in the murders of several young boys. The majority of the Palestinians – again and again, have backed violent actions against not just the government, but against Israelis.

    Do those “non-violent” acts also include the slitting of a baby’s throat? Stabbing a three-year old in the heart? And do you justify these actions, even if they are committed by your “so-called” minority by saying that the actions of my government caused this?

    So, if I don’t like what the American government does, I can murder an infant and then blame the government? I’m sorry – but that is a horrible concept.

    The fact is that there is a culture of death – listen to the words of Hassan Nasrallah, who said the truth – that Jews love life (and that the Arabs love death).

    But by far, the worst of what you write is this line: “the Palestinian who is paying the bill for what others have done against my beloved Jewish brothers and sisters in the Holocaust and Auschwitz and elsewhere.” This is the line of Saddam Hussein and Ahmadinejad. The concept that we have no legitimate claim to this land and that we are only here as a payback for what Hitler did to the Jews.

    Our claim to this land is more ancient than any living people’s to any land in this world. By right, by history, by God, and by might – this land is ours and always will be.

    We offered to share it – the Arabs rejected it. We were attacked and won, and still we pulled back in a desperate hope for peace. We gave back Gaza and all but destroyed the lives of 10,000 Jews…for the crazy idea that this would bring peace. All it brought were rockets fired at Israel.

    Your comment about the bombs thrown at us does not come close to the reality of what was done to us – the buses blown up, the babies murdered, the daily rocket attacks – thousands and thousands of rockets and mortars. You say we are doing to the Palestinians what was done to us? Where? How? When?

    The Nazis built work camps and forced the Jews to labor for them? Do we force the Arabs to labor for us? No – the opposite – the few times a year we close down the crossings for our national holidays or in the wake of a clear and present security threat, the world screams at us.

    The Nazis built gas chambers? Do you claim we are murdering Arabs in the thousands per day? Hundreds? Tens? Not even a single Arab a day! All lies and exaggerations!

    We aren’t even doing to the Arabs what they do to us – let alone what the Nazis did to us! We aren’t blowing up their schools (except when they hide rockets in them). We aren’t blowing up their restaurants, aiming for their children. We do not murder babies – targeting them and taking joy in their deaths.

    We do not throw firebombs at passing Palestinian cars; we do not stab and shoot and blow them up. Yes – we have a closure on Gaza for certain things – they are holding one of our sons for almost five years. Gilad was only 19 when Palestinians dug under the security fence into Israel, grabbed him and pulled him into Gaza. For FIVE years, they have held him and so yes, we restrict what goes in – and still hundreds of truckloads of supplies go in weekly. The UN itself has confirmed that there is NO humanitarian crisis or shortages in Gaza.

    You need to review history – the true history of what has happened and what is happening in this land because from the first line of what you write to the last, you are quoting the Arab line…not the truth.

  9. Hey Prophet Joe – thanks for your comments – it was fine except that last line about my eternal battle with Orange. I’m hoping it ends with them coming to their senses and leaving us alone 🙂


  10. You wrote:

    To stand out in the street for all the world to see our pain.

    In standing out in the street you don’t expose your pain to the world, but instead you remind the world of the sacrifices families have made to keep the land free. You show a display of great honor that the Arab world cannot and does not understand.

    Honor is not something you can restore by murder, but by silent devotion, prayer and remembrances. Something this and most Arabs cannot and never will understand.

  11. Thank you, Findalis, for reminding me. You are so right and wise. I think in my anger, I forgot to focus on that truth. We stand for those who have fallen and if the world doesn’t understand, if the Arabs don’t understand, it is something missing in them.

    The anger was temporary, part of the emotion of the moment and I’m surprised at myself. I have seen this before and I never was angry before. I have to work out what is churning inside me that brought this up – but I thank you so so much for your simple and true words…yes, oh yes, we stood to honor the sacrifices of over 22,000 young men and women. Thank you from the bottom of my heart (what does that mean?…well, with all my heart!)

  12. Anonymous // May 10, 2011 at 6:37 am // Reply

    I don’t understand why you’re upset that an arab decided not to stand for the moment of silence. Duh. What do you expect him to do. Do they expect you to mourn for Naqba day whatever that means. You’re getting angry for nothing and anger is bad for your health. If you’re going to get angry get angry for something that makes sense.

  13. Anonymous // May 10, 2011 at 6:38 am // Reply

    and to Anonymous who posts about the arabs suffering, they have no one to blame but themselves.

  14. I am shocked and appalled that a mother in Utah would DARE to compare the Holocaust with how the palis are treated in Israel….As a docent in the Holocaust Museum here, I can assure her and other misguided individuals that NEVER before or since has a people been treated like the Jews were treated in Europe during World War 11. The Jews were defenseless, we lost 6 million beautiful souls!!! the palis sent in murderers to Israel…we have to live in fear of them, not them living in fear of us. I am just so upset that the p0st from Utah…it makes me want to scream!

  15. It takes courage to bare your heart and soul and allow readers to comment with various opinions, some supportive, some not. Thank you for speaking from your heart. I truly want to understand, so I appreciate your willingness to share the truth.

    Today I saw an American newsclip talking about how the Israelis “took” the Golan Heights, West Bank, etc. Terrible reporting. They should have said “took back.”

    Some of us who believe the Bible, understand the land that is rightfully yours is a territory much, much bigger than you have had in generations. We also grieve about our president’s stand. People can’t see that what is happening will NOT bring peace, just more war and turmoil and suffering for Jews and Christians.

    Stay strong. Keep writing. We need to hear your voice.

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