Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin on if There Can Really Be Peace Between Israel and Palestinians

Palestinians climb the Israeli separation barrier on their way to attend the first Friday prayers in Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in the village of al Ram, on May 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Jeffrey K. Salkin is the senior rabbi of Temple Solel, in Hollywood, Florida, and a frequent writer on Jewish and cultural matters. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent those of BCNN1.

Florida problem: my air conditioning wasn’t working.

No problem. I call the AC company, and they send over a technician.

Let me introduce you to Omar. When he entered my house, I thought that I recognized his accent.

“Where are you from?”

“Jerusalem,” he said.

“Me, too!” I responded. (Well, not actually. But, I have been to Israel approximately fifty times, and rent an apartment in Jerusalem every summer.)

“Shalom aleichem!” he said to me.

“Salaam,” I said to him.

Omar is a Palestinian who lives in Boca Raton (so, I guess you could say that he is assimilating into Jewish life).

He told me his story: born in Jerusalem (which he insists on calling Jerusalem, and not Al-quds, its Arab name). Fled to Gaza. Went to Egypt. Fled Egypt and returned to Gaza. Left Gaza and went back to Jerusalem.

As in east Jerusalem. As in, inside the walls of the Old City.

And so, we played Palestinian-Jewish geography. We compare notes on the city that we both love. Favorite hummus places. Favorite sites. Stories about the shuk. The usual.

Is there something odd about this story?

There shouldn’t be. Because, when all is said and done, as Omar said to me: we are all human beings, and we all want the same things. Prosperity for our families, and to get through the day unharmed and even whole.

And yet, such a view is often heretical — for both Palestinians, and for Jews.

Several weeks ago, I was the emcee for a showing of an Israeli film, “The Electrifers,” as part of the Miami Jewish Film Festival. It was a sweet, poignant comedy about a washed up Israeli rock band — sort of like “This Is Spinal Tap” meets “Exodus.”

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Source: Religion News Service