From Enemy to Friend

I never thought I could be friends with my enemy. I never thought I would be able to sit at the same table with someone so different from me and carry on a conversation. I was frightened to open up and let out the feelings I’d been taught to hide to avoid being singled out for retaliation. It was like a mouse becoming a cat’s best friend. Absurd.

Growing up in an environment where I was taught my entire life that the Israeli government had taken my family’s land, which had happened during the occupation in 1948, I had created this perception that all Israelis are my enemies. They had pilfered what was mine, thus, they are all horrible people. I live in a country where there is an occupier and an occupant, in a society that had built these ideas in my mind that the other side is my enemy. Being the ‘underdog’ of the society, I had built barriers I had thought would keep me safe from mixing with the so-called ‘enemy’.

These thoughts began to change after I got the chance to know the other side. It started when I was invited to join a club called Tachles-a commonly used slang word that in both Arabic and Hebrew is used when you are referring straight to the point. Tachles first started as an art center for Palestinian and Israeli youth based in my hometown, Haifa. Haifa is one of the few ethnically diverse cities in Israel where large populations of both Arabs and Jews live together,