The Infuriating Palestinian Sitting Next to Me
On the way to the prayer gathering at the Western Wall last week, I decided to take the light rail. Problem was tons of other people had the same brilliant idea as me, so the light rail was so packed I almost couldn’t make it on.
But then some teenage girls made room for me, and I squeezed into the crowd standing since there were absolutely no seats left on the entire train.
And then I noticed something strange. I noticed a Palestinian in his 20s sitting with his legs at an angle so none of the Jews surrounding him could sit in the empty seat next to him.
In Israel, religious women usually don’t sit next to men. In fact, just that morning I had stood for about 15 minutes on the light rail instead of sitting down next to a man.
But that night last week, I felt a flash of anger in my heart, and before I knew what I was doing I was sitting next to that Palestinian who was so determined that none of us Jews should sit next to him.
But even after I sat down, he wouldn’t move his legs. So I had to sit on the edge of the seat.
But I wasn’t budging. No way.
On the other hand, I didn’t say anything to him either. A bit too scary with all of the recent events and the widespread rioting in East Jerusalem (where my seatmate was headed) to call him on his obnoxious behavior.
I got off at the next stop, and started flowing along in the river of hundreds of Israelis carrying flags and signs supporting the soldiers streaming down Yaffa Street on their way to the Kotel.
But I couldn’t get over the defeated feeling in my gut.
Not only had I been too afraid to tell him to move his legs—every single Jew on the train had been too afraid to tell him to get his act together as well!
But when the river stopped flowing, and we stood together before Hashem at the Kotel, I felt a forgotten flower of strength opening up inside of me.
I remembered that we Jews have seen far, far worse than this.
We have faced so many enemies over the millennia. Among them: the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Crusaders, the Spanish Inquisitors, the Ukrainian Cossacks, the Nazis, and now the Arabs.
The faces have changes. The languages have changed. The reasons why they claim they want to kill us have changed.
But one thing has not changed, and will never change.
Hashem is with us. Every step of the way.
So no matter how weak and hopeless I feel at times during this decades long conflict that seems to have no end…Truth is, I’m not.
And can never be. “Because You are with me.” Thank you, Hashem:)