There is an Arab in my House Holding a Knife
At this moment, a few steps away from me, there is an Arab from East Jerusalem holding a knife.
Don’t worry though, it’s just Achmed*, my contractor’s lovely electrician! I’ve gotten to know him a bit over the last half a year of renovations on our new home, and he’s a really nice guy who jokes around with my husband, tells me my baby is cute, and can even send SMSs in nearly perfect Hebrew.
I trust him 100%!
Well maybe not 100%…More like 91%. Or maybe 88%?
I guess that 9% (or 12%) of distrust/fear is the reason I moved the kitchen knives from the countertop to the wine drawer before he came over?
Earlier this morning, Achmed reminded me, “You know, you still owe me money for the lights I installed a few weeks ago.”
Oy, I had forgotten…”Of course, I can pay you right away!”
“You can pay me when I’m all done with everything. I’m not worried,” his smile nice and friendly. Lovely Achmed.
“You know where to find me!” I quipped, my hands indicating the freshly-painted walls of our new home.
“But maybe now, with everything going on, you’ll be moving back to America?” Achmed asked.
I looked closer at Achmed’s face and saw he was serious.
Would he be happy if the violence drove us away? Fewer Jews in Palestine?
Would he be sad if we left? He sort of liked us after all these months fiddling with our electrical wires?
Would he be jealous if we left? If he had a US passport, he would move to Queens quicker than he could say “Salaam Aleikum?”
And then I thought of all the things I wanted to explain to Achmed…
I thought of the blood-soaked intifada 15 years ago, and how we lived through 4 terrifying years. And never thought once of leaving Israel.
I thought of my house full of sabras who love this country with a passion. They would never ever agree to leave Israel, no matter what.
I thought of all of my ancestors who dreamed and prayed for over a thousand years to live and walk this Land, like my family and I merit to do every single day.
But all I told Achmed was, “No, we’re not leaving.”
And I looked at his face and realized that my heart was as foreign to him and his was to me.
A moment ago, Achmed finished his work and wished me well, “Tishmri al Atsmech!” Take care of yourself. And I wished him the same. Sincerely.
And then I locked the door behind him and reached into my wine drawer and placed my knives back on the kitchen counter.