Yesterday in class I noticed one of my Moslem students who I hadn’t seen recently. I asked her how she was and she blushingly explained that she’s been absent for two weeks because her mother had been sick. She came up to me during the break and elaborated, this time explaining that she was in Ramadan. She asked whether I’d let her sit the final exam despite her absence.
I had every intention of agreeing, firstly because I don’t agree with the compulsory class attendance policy, secondly because she had only been absent one lesson too many, but most importantly because she is a bright, serious, hard-working student who deserves it. I’m aware that subconsciously, I usually try to be super-nice to my Arab students – it’s probably something to do with benevolent discrimination, but that’s for another day.
I asked her to decide whether her excuse was her mother or the Ramadan, teasingly pointing out that she had changed her hairstyle, which couldn’t be connected to either. She blushed again and explained that her hair was not connected, but that because her mother was sick and she was the only daughter, she had to cook for the evening feasts. It was a clever reply and probably truthful. I agreed to her request, still suspecting that the two-week absence and the change in look may have been more connected to matters of the heart than to health, religion or food but what the hell?
On the way home I pondered that if only all Arabs were like her, then I turned on the radio and was reminded that they weren’t. There had been a drive-by shooting in the South-Hebron Mountain area. A colleague of mine who lives there had mentioned it in the break. I called my sister Sara who lives there too, to check that everyone was okay.
She told me that my nephew Yoav was supposed to have been driving in the area. At first they were worried until it turned out that he had gone to the synagogue to pray instead. Sara had worked with the mother of seven who was murdered. She was a righteous proselyte. She was not born a Jew, but she died as one. Sara also told me that the murderers left their vehicle to finish off their grisly work at point blank range. I wasn’t shocked by their barbarism, but I was by their courage. There was a time when they’d just shoot and run.
I tried to remain rational and asked myself who the true Arab is. Is it the sweet, attractive intelligent student or the monster killing innocent civilians from zero range? Can I make life easy for myself and say that there are good Arabs and bad Arabs and she’s good while he’s bad or do I ask whether he could be her brother or her new boyfriend?
They always tell me that they just want to live in peace. They almost all want a Palestinian State, as long as they can keep living in Israel and don’t have to move there, but are they telling me the truth? If the murderers are ever caught it will probably transpire that they were also good kids from good families. If they lived in Israel we’ll be told that their parents condemn the attack. If they live in Gaza they’ll be celebrating publicly.
So who is the real Arab and what does he really want? Do the majority want peace and prosperity, but they can’t control the extremists? Or do they all secretly want to see us in a bullet riddled Subaru?
Finally, when I once spoke about the lynching in Ramallah to a group of German journalists, one of them argued, “Yes, but that’s not all the Palestinian people.”
I acknowledged that he was correct, but the truth is it’s never “all” or even the majority. What percentage of the German people were actively involved in the execution if the Final Solution? One percent? Less? Whatever number it was, it was plenty.
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for some good men to do nothing
Let the Real Arab Stand up!