Wednesday, March 31, 2010
An Arab Villiage
"Though they won't admit it, Israel's largest problem is the Israeli Arabs." -Ahmad Amer. This quote is the basis for what I saw and how the government treats people in Kfar Qasem. Two nights ago we went to Kfar Qasem, an Arab city/village for a night. We stayed with the Amer family. My dad met Ahmad Amer when he went to Washington D.C. for a Fulbright meeting. Ahmad was one of the Fulbrighters from Israel who went to the U.S. earlier in the year. He, his wife, Manal, and two children, Sayyed age 10 and Fatima age 5, were all very delightful people. Their house was the cleanest house that we'd seen in Israel. The was no clutter anywhere and the floors were spot and dustless! It was amazing! As we drove into Kfar Qasem the scenery completely changed. The roads stopped being paved, the street signs disappeared, and trash started appearing a lot more on the streets. "We (Israeli Arabs) are treated like 10th class citizens." -Ahmad Amer. Even though Arab Israelis are Israeli citizens, they don't get the same services that Jewish Israelis receive. Israeli Arabs pay taxes and do stuff for the country. For example, Most truck drivers are Israeli Arabs. We arrived in Kfar Qasem at around 3:30pm and talked to Ahmad about what it is like to be an Israeli Arab and his thoughts on Israel. Listening to Ahmad gave me a whole new and different perspective on how Israeli Arabs are treated. I had no idea how badly they are treated. And why? Because they are Arabs. Yes, some Arabs are bad, but for that matter so are some Americans, some Europeans, some Asians, some Africans, and so on and so forth. We talked to Ahmad until we went to dinner at around 8:00pm. I haven't had dinner so late since we were in Africa 2+ years ago! But it is the culture here. People eat lunch and dinner much later than we do in America. When we sat down at the restaurant we went to for dinner, we were quickly served tons of mezze. Mezze is like appetizers. There were many salads, dips, and of course bread. The bread was really good, it was like a pita but flattened out. The hummus was also really good, its consistency was perfect. There was enough mezze that I didn't need any more food. However, after a little while of enjoying the mezze, the waiter came and asked us what we would like to order for our entrees. My parents and I were a little shocked that they expected us to eat more food, but we still ordered entrees. My parents ordered lamb kabobs and I ordered a chicken kabob. Though shortly after ordering I canceled my kabob because I wasn't that hungry and my mom and I decided to split an order. That still turned out to be more that enough food. The food at that restaurant was really good! It was definitely some of the best hummus I've had here in Israel. The next morning after breakfast, the Amer family took us on a tour of their town. Our first stop was on the "Green Line." The "Green Line" is the line that separates Israel from the West Bank. There isn't really green line, but that is what the border is called. It was really weird being on that line..... Once we were done at the "Green Line," we continued our tour to the Jewish settlement three minutes away from Kfar Qasem. I was in a car with my dad and Ahmad and my mom was in a car with Manal, Sayyed, and Fatima. At the border crossing to get into the settlement, my car passed through with no problem, but the car with my mom and Manal in it got questioned. They stopped the car because they could tell that Manal was an Arab because of her headscarf. The asked why they were going here and asked for my mom's passport. But my mom talked her way in. :) As soon as we got into the Jewish Settlement, the streets were paved, there were street signs, and there was almost no garbage on the streets. The people in the settlement get services. After we came back from a quick walk around the settlement we hung out at Ahmad's house and then had lunch. Lunch was one of the best meals that I have had in Israel. Manal made all of it too! My favorite dishes were these little pastry dough triangles filled with some sort of deliciously seasoned meat, zucchinis stuffed with seasoned rice, and lamb bone cooked perfectly. It was so delicious! Kfar Qasem was one of the most interesting places that we have gone in Israel and I will never forget everything we ate, saw, and learned.