Yalla Peace: Celebrating ‘Passter’

A taste of this combination of Passover and Easter at the Hanania household.

roasted lamb 311 (photo credit: MCT)
roasted lamb 311
(photo credit: MCT)
What another terribly marred Passover and Easter week. Now I know why so many Israelis and some Palestinians turn their eyes away from the constant tragedy and pretend it isn’t there.
My Facebook page is raging with anger between Palestinians and Israelis. “Friends” insist on posting notes about how the “other side” is responsible for everything.
“Terrorists.” “Racist Zionists.” Hateful blather. Yes, I know that people are killing each other and frankly I blame both sides. Of course, depending on whose side you are on determines who is to blame for the latest skirmish in the Gaza Strip.
The IDF entered Gaza and Hamas responded. So many were killed. And then the hate speech ramps up from both sides.
Inpeace, incidents like this won’t happen. In peace, IDF soldiers willcross into the Gaza Strip with permission from the Palestinians and,instead of firing on them, Palestinians might ask what they are doing.
SOMY wife (who is Jewish) and I are here in the United States planningfor our annual “Passter” dinner, watching helplessly as the situationin Israel and Palestine deteriorates further.
Oh, sorry,“Passter” is a term you all in Israel and Palestine might not be toofamiliar with in these days of continued conflict, name-calling andblame. It’s something that can only come from peace. A combination ofPassover and Easter.
My wife and I argue about the typicalthings Israelis and Palestinians seem preoccupied with these days, likethe continued bloodshed, violence, fight over land ownership, targetedkillings, terrorist attacks and the growing political division betweenIsraeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama.
Butwe don’t yell and scream. We don’t call each other names or spend ourtime planning revenge. No, we look at the people in Israel and thePalestinian territories and we shake our heads. A bunch of unruly kids.Okay. With weapons. They should all be sent to their rooms. Disarmed.
Wehave other important things to think about. Sunday was Palm Sunday, avery important holiday for me as a Christian. Monday night wasPassover, a very important holiday for my wife and son as Jews.
Wecelebrate our religious holidays together. On Palm Sunday, we decorateeggs and then have a big dinner. Palestinians like to use one color –purple – to reflect the “Passion of Christ.” Americans like to decorateeggs with  different colors reflecting the excessive commercializationof a holiday. (Ah those Americans. It’s all about money!)
Relatives drop off palm fronds symbolizing... well, I don’t need to explain it again, do I?
OnPassover, we celebrate with a Seder. I like the way Arabs and Jewsfocus on food at holidays, as well as religious prayers and custom, ofcourse.
IN MY comedy routine, I like to riff on the fact thatJews really don’t have much in the way of a food menu. That’s why theIsraelis “stole” our land. To get the food. Humous. Falafel. Stuffedgrape leaves.
They do have a dish called cholent, I’ll give themthat. You know, it’s something Jews start cooking the night before andeat the next day. Arabs have a similar dish. It’s called “leftovers.”Of course, the Passover meal has many more sacred food items than myArab menu; matza, wrapped in a napkin; maror (bitter herbs), which is usually horseradish that opens my sinuses; haroset(apples, nuts and cinnamon. We Arabs and Jews have a lot of nuts amongus); the boiled egg (is it cheating to use an Easter egg?); and the onething we all enjoy as Arabs and Jews – roasted lamb.
We bringthe two holidays together because they often overlap and they arereally so very close. Just look at the Arabic, Hebrew and Englishwords. They may have the same origins, but surely sound similar.Passover. Pessah. Passion. Purple.
We call it “Passter.”
Themixing of Israeli and Palestinian words is a tradition in myJewish-Palestinian home. It was started by my son, Aaron (that’s whatmy wife calls him. I call him Abdullah, of course). He was trying tolearn the words “Shalom” and “Salam,” more example of similar-soundingArab and Jewish words and he came up with “Shalam.”
Why not? It’s better than some of the words I have been reading on my Facebook page.
Wedo have that one moment at the Hanania “Passter” dinner table whenPassover and Easter collide in a mini Arab-Israeli skirmish.
That’s when my wife always looks at me and tells my son, “Aaron, ask daddy to pass the Israeli salad.”
And I always respond with, “Abdullah, please tell mommy that we don’thave Israeli salad. We only serve Arab east Jerusalem salad.”
Can you blame the kid for scratching his yarmulke? And then grabbingthe bowl of tabbouleh and dividing it equally, 78 percent for my wifeand 22 percent for me?
Well, Happy Easter, Hag sameah,and a happy “Passter” from the Hanania household; what the future ofPalestinian-Israeli relations might someday look like not just in ourhome but in Israel and a future Palestinian state.

Insha-Allah (God willing). And yes, yehi ratzon (same in Hebrew). I like to cover both bases.
Named Best Ethnic Columnist inAmerica by New America Media, the writer is a Palestinian-Americancolumnist and peace activist. He can be reached at www.YallaPeace.com