Cinema | Attempting Jewish-Arab reconciliation in a 10-minute game

Once our team is off, Luke and I sit in the center of the divide. The right side of the court is full of Jewish men, their thumbs slung through the belt loops of their black dress pants. The left side of the court has been left to a family of 10 or so Arabs, who sit along a wall and use a wristwatch to keep track of the 10-minute games.

“So do you guys play here a lot?” I ask a bald man with a large stomach.

“I am here under doctor’s orders,” he says, tapping his gut.

Unsure of how my next question will go over, I ask, “So why are all the Arabs over here and the Jews over there?”

Immediately, the entire family marches over to the Jewish side, laughing, put their arms around guys’ shoulders, shaking hands and saying, “Shalom.” I notice one Jewish man’s face. He is frowning, and it’s hard to tell whether this is out of distrust or is just an effort to show the seriousness of the matter—if he’s going to shake this guy’s hand, he’s not going to laugh about it, he’s going to give it the gravity it deserved.

The Arabs and Jews sit uneasily together for the remainder of a 10-minute game, and then they drift back to their earlier sides.

© 2008 Gwendolyn Oxenham. All rights reserved.

Go to part 1 (Bolivia) » | part 3 (France) » | part 4 (Kenya) »

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