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Everything points to the Middle East conflict
By RAY HANANIA
08/04/2010
How a simple conversation turned into a complicated discussion on the Israeli and Palestinian narratives.
It all started when I turned on the television set and started watching an old rerun of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” a sitcom about an American-Italian family’s everyday humorous challenges.

(I’ve always wanted to produce my own TV show called “Everybody Loves Abdullah,” about an American-Arab family and their everyday humorous challenges, too.)

The topic of that particular episode was about Raymond who was asked by his wife to explain the whole issue of sex to their young daughter.

That’s when my wife turned to me and said, “Maybe you should have that talk with Aaron.”

“Are you asking me that because my name is Raymond?” I began facetiously.

“I’m being serious,” she said.

“You want me to have the ‘talk’ with Aaron?”

“Yes. I want you to talk to him about sex. He’s old enough to know.”

“Sex? Me? Why me?”

Alison gave me that look. You know, the way a border guard looks at an Arab entering Ben-Gurion airport.

“Fine,” I huffed. “I’ll do it.” I know better than to challenge my wife, or any woman, on any issue.

Not that Aaron – who I call Abdullah when my wife isn’t around – had asked about sex.

SO I sat Abdullah down and I asked him if he’s ever heard of sex. I winced as I anticipated the possible response, “Sure, dad, what do you want to know?” He just looked at me like was I annoying him and said: “Sex is that thing I’m not supposed to talk about.”

“Well, that’s right.”

“So why are we talking about it? Are you trying to get me in trouble?” he asked.

I just started yapping. Going into detail: “There are boys and there are girls, Abdullah. Boys and girls are different. In order to make babies, they have to come together and have, you know, sex. They get together. Then badda bing, badda boom. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Yaani [like, in Arabic] this and yaani that. Kol ma sheh ze lokeah [whatever it takes, in Hebrew]. Whatever. Everyone’s happy. And they have a baby. It’s simple. Any questions?”

“Why are boys and girls different,” he asked?

“That’s just the way it is.”

“You mean the birds and the bees?”

“Yes.”

“What do birds and bees have to do with sex?”

I knew this wasn’t going too well. “Well, ah, I don’t know. Maybe birds are boys and bees are girls. It doesn’t matter. It could be anything.”

THAT STARTED a whole series of difficult questions. “Do insects have sex?”

“Not all of them.”

“Do girls have stingers?”

“No, but they can cause you a lot of pain if you are married to them and you don’t listen to them; which is what’s going to happen to me if this conversation about sex doesn’t produce results.”

“Why?”

“Why? Because G-d made people that way.” Whenever I can’t explain something, I always blame it on G-d. “G-d made us all different.”

“Why? Is that why you are Arab and mommy and I are Jews? Why did G-d make us different? Why are they killing each other?”

“Arabs and Jews are basically the same. We’re both human beings. People. We just believe in different things.” I told him mommy and I have an armistice agreement, which was harder to explain than sex. “Mommy is the boss in our family, but I make all the decisions.”

“So, Arabs and Jews are fighting because they believe in different things?” he asked. “How about sharing? Mommy tells me to do that all the time. If you and mommy get along, why can’t Arabs and Jews get along?”

How did a simple conversation about sex turn into a complicated discussion about the Middle East conflict? That made me realize the problem we have in the Middle East. This is exactly what happens to Arabs and Jews. No matter what the topic, it always turns to the Middle East conflict. We can’t escape it.

Talk about sports turns in to a debate about why the Arabs opposed two states in 1947 when the UN proposed it and used violence to get it all back. Talk about technology turns in to how Israelis are slowly controlling and censoring social networking sites like Facebook and BlogTV. Farming? A debate on who owns what land.

Before I know it, I’m giving Abdullah the Palestinian narrative and then my version of the Israeli narrative, which are different, of course.

“There was this country, Palestine. The Jews lived there. Then the Arabs lived there. Then Jews came back. Then they started to fight over who owns the land. Both sides did bad things to each other and everyone just got madder. Sometimes, one side is tougher and stronger than the other, but the other won’t give up.

Then badda bing, badda boom. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Yaani this and yaani that. Kol ma sheh ze lokeah. Whatever. It’s simple. Any questions?”

Right about that time, mommy decided to poke her head into the room and ask, “How’s it going?”

“Great,” I said.

“Yeah mommy,” my son said. “Daddy says you’re the boss but he makes all the decisions.”

Ouch!

The writer is an award winning columnist and Chicago radio talk show host. www.YallaPeace.com
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