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Thursday, 24 April 2014

An Israeli and Palestinian, Brought Together by Breast Cancer

 Ruth Ebenstein and Ibtisam Erekat (Yitz Woolf)
The Atlantic

With a tinge of anxiety, I maneuvered my six-seater Fiat through a neighborhood in East Jerusalem that I did not know—and that most Jewish Israelis don’t frequent. Aboard were my mom, my kids, and my friends Ibtisam and Ahmed Erekat. After our family get-together, I was giving the Erekats a ride to the stores on Salah al-Din street, where they would shop and then head home to al-Eizariya, their village under joint Israeli-Palestinian control on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives.

I asked Ahmed the name of the neighborhood. “A-Tur,” he replied. ‘Wasn’t that the home turf of someone who had tried to blow himself up on a public bus some 10 years earlier?’ I thought to myself, before pushing that thought to the back of my mind.

My mom was sandwiched cozily in the front seat in between Ibtisam and me, and my sons, Yuval, 7, and Eitan, 5, were playing a game with Ahmed, Ibtisam’s husband, in the back seat. Every time I glanced at the rearview mirror and saw my two giggling boys, I couldn’t help but smile. There was something so normal and mundane about giving the Erekats a lift. As if, for just a moment, our friendship could exist absent the backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The view from my car window could have been a Monet: Purple bougainvillea jutted out of sparkling Jerusalem limestone, forming a makeshift arch against a cloudless blue sky. The autumn sun warmed my forearm. The road stretched before us, empty and quiet.

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