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The Other’s Other

Reflections and Opacities in an Arab College in Israel

Helen Paloge

A challenge, a mission, a hope for a better life for all in an embattled country. This was the author’s vision in The Other’s Other. The challenge turned out to be greater and different than imagined; the mission more exasperating; the hope, more complicated. The book offers a new perspective on the problematic encounter between Jewish and Arab Israelis through the experience of a Jewish lecturer at an Arab college in an Arab city in Israel. The author’s unique insights into Arab Israeli culture gleaned from conversations with staff and students, students’ work, and everyday contact offer a window on the often conflicting feelings; the ambiguities, ambivalent identities, and layers of reality; the questions, doubts and dilemmas that mark the struggle of Arabs and Jews living in one country. It is also a meditation on the rewards and difficulties of discovering and accepting the other – and oneself as the other’s other. Of coexistence.

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Chapter 5: Friction

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C H A P T E R F I V E Friction I’m sitting by a gurgling brook on the Louis Promenade situated behind Haifa’s two major hotels on the Carmel and overlooking the port. It’s Passover and most of the people strolling along the walk are tourists from abroad or from out of town. There’s an old couple posing for a picture on the steps by the brook, being taken by some loud, round, squat Israeli doda1 dressed in a long, gaudily flowered skirt and white, wide-brimmed sunhat. When they move off, it’s all almost too quiet, except for the gurgling brook that refills the silence they’ve left. If I unveil this moment, what lies behind the scrim is a poignancy that’s as aching as the hush being hidden by the running water. Outside this moment, beyond this shady spot and its comic interlude is an oppressive, hamsin April morning that has broken over a country, a region, a world in strife, in danger of flying apart or imploding. Nation lifting sword against nation, wolves leaping at each other, lambs torn apart limb from limb, or about to be. Little enclaves, like this spot, manage to survive, though they require care, and each day demands staving off unsavory influences, making resolutions that need intellectual ratification over perhaps contradictory emotions, unlearning old tendencies and trying new attitudes that can be tested and proven viable. Some animal must be twitching its last down in the wadi. A flight of swallows is...

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