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Only in Israel... - 22

Updated: Jan 10, 2022

This week, we have a guest, my dear friend, Betty Intrater, sharing with us one of her own "Life in Israel" stories. The only thing I want to say in the way of an introduction to her story is is spot on!

There’s a popular saying here, “Only in Israel.” It refers to unusual, sometimes quirky, sometimes contradictory situations you find yourself in, particularly related to the culture, climate, or personality of our country.

I’ve never been able to explain to outsiders the relationship between Jews and Arabs in Israel. From abroad, it may seem there is only violence. However, that’s far from the truth. There is actually quite a lot of integration in the workplace and community. Our current ‘Corona Czar’ is an Israeli Arab professor, and there is an Israeli Arab judge on the Supreme Court. There is a joke that you must be Arab to work as a pharmacist because that profession is so dominated by Israeli Arabs, and there are many Arab nurses and doctors, both male and female.

On the other hand, there is violence and tension, particularly with Palestinian Arabs from the disputed territories. I remember when we first came to Israel and lived in a geographically sensitive area. Arab construction workers built homes at a site patrolled by Jewish armed guards. However, my young son’s nursery school was opened every morning by the beloved Arab maintenance worker who held the master key.

A few years ago, there were several instances worldwide of Muslim attacks on ‘infidels,’ often family members, where the attacker threw gasoline or chemicals in the victim’s face. At that time, I had an eye infection and made an appointment with the local ophthalmologist. I couldn’t help noticing his Muslim first name. As I sat back in the chair and let Dr. Mohammed pour eye drops into my eyes, I didn’t miss the irony of the situation.

Today, our new kitchen table and chair set was due to arrive. Early in the morning, there was news of a stabbing attempt in the city center. Later in the day, the sentencing of a Palestinian Arab who stabbed two citizens last month was to take place.

At noon, there was a knock on the door. Two men, each approximately twice my size, stood with several large boxes. With some trepidation, I let them in. As they began to work, chatting with one another in Arabic, one turned to me. “Do you have a knife?” he asked. “What type?” I answered trying to act natural. “Anything will do. I can't open the box.” I opened the drawer and let him choose one.

Only in Israel.

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