Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I had a prejudice about how Ali would be like: a popular ahmadinejad, a narrow minded, macho guy…. I was wrong.
But then again, doesn’t everyone have prejudices?
When I was in Paris and talked Arabic on the phone, people looked at me in surprise: how come this not-arab-looking woman speak Arabic?
I went to a shop, and directly identified the owner as a Jewish guy by the mezuzah at the door. He immediately identified me as Lebanese.
He said it was my accent (which is funny because Lebanese tell me I don’t sound Lebanese because of my accent!)
And he said something like “ There are nice Christian Lebanese who come here” then he realized he might have slip out: I could’ve been a Muslim Lebanese….
I deliberately said, in a detached way: “it’s ok, no harm done. I’m not a Muslim anyway. I’m Jewish” and I entered the dressing room to try on the dress that I was holding.
The man was astonished. He literally followed me inside, and almost opened the curtain of the dressing room:
“which family?”
I said: “….., originally from Baghdad”
He asked a million questions.
Before I left (I took the dress as a gift to my mom) he gave me a leaflet of the Parasha of the week and the candle lighting times in Paris for Shabbat (the same day)
“Shabbat shalom” and I answered “Shabbat shalom”.
Waw. This is what I call Freedom.

Dinner with Ali

Last week I was in Paris.
I love the month of tishrei in Paris.
I came back on Sunday night, after missing my flight and having a hard time getting finally on a plane to come back home on time for work on Monday…
Monday, I was just off work, at 8 pm, when a friend called.
I was feeling like a zombie and I was dreaming of sleeping.
But what this friend proposed was tempting:
Having dinner (sushi, mmmm) with him and a friend of his, in visit to Lebanon.
The friend is Iranian. Ali.
I liked the combination. Why not: A Lebanese Jew and an Iranian Muslim at a Japanese dinner.

The guy turned out to be the grand son of someone very important who was very close to the shah of Iran. His family has been in exile since he was 3 years.
We talked about exile and about feeling “rootless”.
We had a lot in common: The frustration, the injustice, the feeling of wanting to do something and to feel hopeless and useless.
He despises the extremist regime in Iran, Hezbollah and all that happened to his country, a country he has never been to, a country that they stole from him, a country that he doesn’t even bear the passport, despite being the descent of one of the most know family there (there are mountains there called after them…)
The guy is educated, very charismatic, speaks fluently many languages and is very open minded.
With people like that, I thought, (just a thought that vanished just as the person faded out of sight) that there might, there could be a glimpse of hope. Hope of peace.
Ok, time to wake up.
Anyway, I always appreciate meeting interesting people like that.
Ali looked human.
Before separating, we hugged like long time friends.
The next day he went back to his exile in Europe.