Tuesday, August 25, 2020

With a dogma shattered, finally, embracing the Israelis on the other side - by Sara Al-Nuaimi

Our relationship with Israel is one of timeless harmony. My caring for Palestinians means urging to stop trying to destroy Israel and instead come to terms with it.

Sara Al-Nuaimi..
Guest Columnist/Israel Hayom..
24 August '20..
Link: https://www.israelhayom.com/opinions/finally-embracing-the-israelis-on-the-other-side/

It has always been my dream to visit Israel, the mystical, forbidden, and imaginative place. What would it feel like to enter a synagogue, to see a candle-lit menorah, to hear the psalms, to get inspired by a new language, to allow new words and new creative emotional experiences to take place? To sing, dance the horah, and celebrate with Israelis the remarkable turn of a new millennium?

As an Emirati woman, in the past, some would react with, "Are you okay? What's wrong with you?" Perhaps the oddest response I have received was, "Are you a Shiite?" (I am Sunni.) Thinking of all the positive aspects of Israel in a way disintegrated all the false beliefs pounded into society that limited my immersive being.

When Arabs deny the Holocaust, they in some way deny my own existence that upholds an identity that wants to be everything Arab, but also everything new, expanding, global, universal. There is an elated feeling of inspired hope, of love and freedom when parts of an old traditional construct start to melt away, yet there's also a safe deep current of satisfaction in knowing that Israel's narrative is also built on traditions like our own, and there's no more the fear of having to cut cords with our past in order to look ahead.

Our relationship with Israel is one of timeless harmony. The richness in knowing that we are larger than belief is the greatest richness in life. This is what acknowledging Israel means to me. Carrying a heart free of enmity is the most meaningful thing in life. I marvel at the possibilities and the consequences. If only I can stand right in front of an Israeli bakery right now and enjoy a freshly baked bagel.

This reminded me of meeting an openly gay Israeli man exactly one year ago in Turkey. I was excited to learn more about life there. He reacted somewhat apprehensively and cautiously, brushing me off as an Arab who wanted to have an impossible experience with him, completely misunderstanding my interest in him. I was happy to meet him as an Israeli artist, even if arrogant, and enjoy a conversation, new ideas. I was all ears until he lost his temper. My overtly keen excitement irritated him, apparently.

I was always curious to see the other side, in part because I met Israelis and Jewish people along the way who shared ideas, songs, books, thoughts, times, and friends. My image of Israel changed over time from a place of dark austere beauty like a faraway castle on a mountain top encircled by flying dragons to one of a real sense of the hustle and bustle of a cosmopolitan city.

This transformation namely began from conspiracy theories that were hard to swallow about monsters, Jewish demons, anti-Christs, and Messiahs (in the plural sense because the stories come in different dizzying forms).

Eventually, my desire to suspend negative feelings towards Israel or Judaism liberated my inner being from a thorned cage: my mind. I was no longer pricked, depressed, or argumentative when the subject presented itself; rather, I was sensitive and curious in finding a way out through the prejudice.

The legacy of a millennium of antisemitic ideas still lingered in our beliefs, they were never really gone. How could I myself ever end them? Would I ever see Jerusalem, that center of three worlds? Would I ever see a place where miracles happened?

Then it happened, on Aug. 13 with the unexpected joint UAE-Israel statement. The miracle to see the miracle. A decaying tooth that brought much pain was plucked and replaced.

Having said that, it must be clearly noted that my thinking openly about Israelis does not mean that I have stopped caring about Palestinians. My caring for Palestinians means urging to stop trying to destroy Israel and instead come to terms with it.

As we get to know each other in realtime these dark times will end, our human encounters in art, tourism, and trade will bring the light. A dogma shattered means a new philosophy will arise and only God knows how wonderful these times will unfold.

I send my warmest regards to Israel and the Israeli people and with much hope and certainty, I look forward to being on the other side. Looking at life from a completely different angle means a new life altogether.

Sara Al Nuaimi is an Emirati actress and businesswoman who lives in Abu Dhabi. Follow her on @saranuaimi.

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