Jeannie is the fictitious name of the heroine in my books. Another person, who I very much admire, also bears, in this blog, the fabricated name, Jeannie.

Both the Jeannies define their distinct diegesis. In this blog, I use the name to flavour the real-life protagonist positively.

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I was lucky to meet Jeannie— very lucky indeed.



Pension brought many surprises. I thought I'd experienced it all in psychiatry; I’d certainly done everything and seen all there is to see. Tragedy and travesty trampled thoughtlessly over much and many. Life’s gambles, unexpectedly and far too often segued into losing games of Russian roulette. Idiots succeeded where heroes failed. I went out to pension with these words: ‘I didn’t do everything I wanted, but I never did anything I did not want.’

I went to my new life wondering. At home, Oranit had grown. What was once a wooded hill became an independent municipality. I co-founded the village and established the local council. To quote from a bible, I do nothing else with: ‘and a generation arose who knew not Joseph.’ It's fulfilling to see my fully grown Oranit’s second-generation children attending the school I opened for their parents. They didn't know who I was. It pleased me to sit back and enjoy things. Many years ago, in one of the many dark nights only known to an elected official, I realised: ‘do for the sake of what has to be done and not for the sake of he who does it.’ If there is a God, if the Penguins haven’t hi-jacked him or driven him to despair, I believe he spoke with me that night. The message sowed the seeds of a bliss whose fruits I enjoy to this day. What was waiting for me as I wandered into senescence?

In 1967 I began a love affair. I left everything and rushed to my infatuation. I swore an oath. Her children would be
mine: wherever she went, I would go. Two years later, I went to her. Never will we part. I kept my promise. The deep infatuation with the Land of Israel was my raison d’etre.


In the heat of passion, there are no boundaries, no borders. In affairs of the heart, there is no other sight to be seen; only the object of your passion and desire shimmer before you. The reason is lost and the senses dulled. As with all affairs, tensions arise. Man needs to drink water, not superheated steam. In its haze the ephemeral beauty which is the Land of Israel. And reality came around. Affairs of the heart are exhausting; they exist for and on passion and emotions. On applying rational thought I wondered, what am I doing here? This adventure is neither me nor mine.

Without noticing, we had built an exotic but beautiful family, our state. The State of Israel, maybe tedious, often humdrum, she might be exasperating, but there I belonged and there I had succeeded. From nowhere, without looking the family that is the State of Israel not only existed; she thrived in all her complexities and sophistication. The State was a rationality prevailing despite the emotional and irrational affair with the Land. An infatuation which threatens to consume everything. We had built a clear, rational and fruitful state. Sometimes, like in all families, a disharmony and acrimony tethered and repulsed our siblings. Nevertheless, this dull, infuriating, family group stood together in peril. The family, our State of Israel had blossomed. We were and are a state amongst states. Other families broke apart, and we did not.

The disturbing and disorientating affair with the Land of Israel was over, the hue of confidence coloured my nationalistic urge. The State’s stability and success flowered almost unnoticed.



Pension came; I was in the still waters of life. I met Jeannie. Jeannie is the same age as my eldest daughter. Jeanie became both my little and big sister. Quickly we developed the intricate, professional intimacy shared between Doctor and Nurse. The close, controlled, correct cooperation evolved.

Jeannie is an Arab Muslim lady. She dresses in traditional garb. Every day a new shawl, the colours carefully chosen, everything matched. Jeannie cares how she looks. Jeannie enjoys compliments, yet, Jeannie never flirts. Jeannie chatters yet is very discrete. Jeannie wants to know secrets, but Jeannie never shares confidences.
Our common well deepened, the waters sweetened.


My preconceived ideas floated downstream, lost to view.

A gender dysmorphic Arab boy treated by a predominately Arab staff, with understanding, compassion and support.

My condescending surprise met with, ‘why not?’

I shared my dream to open a joint Israeli- Arab school in Oranit.

‘You mean like the one my children go to?’

‘Arabs agree to learn with Jews?’

‘Doctor, the problem is finding Jews who will put their children in the school.’

She explained patiently, a breeze of clean air banished my cloying condescension. Revaluations of a new clarity left my eyes open wide, my mind ajar and my mouth agape.

Jeannie wanted her children to have every advantage in their state. Many Medical students in our state are Muslim. Most Pharmacists and Opticians are Muslim.

Jeannie told me when in Turkey and Amman, she had proudly proclaimed her nationality— she was Israeli. More than that— Jeannie had openly said she had a better standard of living and more hope in the State of Israel than any other Arab in any other state.

Israeli Arabs dwell in two camps. Jeannie belongs to the faction which prefers not to discuss politics. The other
bloc quotes the Arab pro-Palestinian line; intimate they’d prefer to say something else; give the impression they desire yet another goal and expect something different. They want to have the benefits of citizenship but not to identify with their 'Israeli identity’ openly. Jeannie accepts her Israeli Muslim identity.


She accepts the Jewish State and is willing to find her place in it.

She only wants to alter it to let her be.
Jeannie knows we Jews behaved disgustingly to our Israeli Muslims. We assume they are
a uniformly composed community, and all are part of a fifth column. With the faux self-justification, we institutionalise our discrimination. The best Arab village, town or city is unfailingly disadvantaged when compared to the worst Jewish one.


The Arab quarters in Ramla and Lod are a visit to Mogadishu. Roads in Arab areas are worse than their Jewish equivalents.
As our eye’s focus on the State of
Israel, today, we see so much more than before. The affair with the Land of Israel blinded us.


We have neglected far too much.

Our priorities are askew. The trinkets we bought for our spoiled lover were at the expense of our family in the periphery.

We have argued and discussed the finer points of how Jew and Arab will live together in Palestine. It is neither relevant or timely. There is no Palestine. When there is, the state, we will talk to state as equals state. We will see the state and not the land.

We must realise, for over 68 years we have not acknowledged our family— the State of Israel.

We have not recognised the Israeli Muslim as who he or she is.

Jeannie is a citizen of Israel. Jeannie should be an equal citizen. She is not.

We must enact a social compact. Together we must define the Israeli Muslim. The Israeli Muslim has full rights and obligation. De Jure, they have them; De Facto they do not.
Israeli Arabs must decide to be Palestinian or Israeli.


Israel must define and facilitate the place and role of the Israeli Muslim.

 

The affair is over; the deep commitment to all Israelis, especially Jeannie, replaced it. There is much to do – together. The Muslim Jeannie is part of my Israeli identity. Jeannie is an Israeli Muslim; our Israeli Muslim.

 


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