The Other Day: A Palestinian Feel

dr. bernard sabella
Dr. Bernard Sabella*
Jerusalem July 15, 2010

The other day
I met my Jewish neighbor just across the street and his face looked just exactly like my face
I saw him play with his children just exactly as I would play with my children
I heard him speak tenderly to his wife just exactly as I would speak tenderly to my wife
I witnessed as he opened with reverence his Holy Book just exactly as I would open my Holy Book
I noticed how he takes care of his home just exactly as I would take care of my home
I observed as he communicated warmly with his neighbors as I would with mine

And yet
My Jewish neighbor does not see me nor does he think
That I play with my children the way he does with his
That I speak tenderly to my wife as he does
That I open my Holy Book with reverence as he does his Holy Book
That I care about my home the way he does about his
That I communicate warmly with my neighbors as he does with his

And More
My Jewish neighbor does not know my pain
When I am denied entry to my city through checkpoints and Separation Wall
When the identity cards of my children are taken away from them
When I cannot be with my wife because she is from the West Bank and I am from Jerusalem
When my home is demolished because I cannot get a building permit
When my neighbors are evicted from their homes and they have no place to go

My Jewish neighbor and I live so close to each other yet worlds apart
His world is one with a semblance of normalcy
Mine is one with threatening transition from one status to another
He feels filled with the dreams of his forefathers
I feel inspired by the dreams of my forefathers
He won't let go
I won't let go

My Jewish neighbor and I share the geographic space
Can we be like each other in our hopes and dreams?
Can he recognize my face which is exactly like his face?
Can he touch my pain?
Can we share the future with the dignity of people whose faces are so much like each other?

Dr. Bernard Sabella is a PLC Member from Jerusalem. He taught sociology at Bethlehem University for over 20 years and is highly engaged in interchurch and interfaith relations.