But Ima, We’re Jews. Why Can’t We Cross the Checkpoint?

I'm an Israeli lawyer, Jewish, married to a Palestinian resident of Ramallah. After years of wandering throughout the world, we returned to the West Bank with our two children, 5-year-old Forat and 2-year-old Adam. We are trying to lead ordinary lives in an extraordinary and unforgiving reality, one that I will share with you here. (click to read all previous posts). I have changed the names of people in the blog, including my own. "Umm Forat" means "Mother of Forat" in Arabic.


We had been in the new house a week and a half, and I still hadn’t managed to buy a bed for Forat, clothes hangers or a car. But on Friday morning I borrowed a friend’s car and took the children for a day trip to Tel Aviv. Our first stop: the unveiling ceremony for my uncle, who died two months after we reached the United States. Exactly one year ago, I was busy organizing our new apartment in Philadelphia when my father called to tell me of the death his eldest brother, Shafiq.

Again I fought with Forat in an unsuccessful attempt to leave the house on time. Again I yelled and threatened her, that there wouldn’t be time to play with her friend Noa, who lives in Holon and who was the third and last planned stop on our trip, after the unveiling and a visit to a Tel Aviv friend’s storage space to collect a set of toy chests. Forat stood in the doorway of the apartment screaming, “Pinukki the Bear is angry at you! I’m never going to do clean-up-tidy-up again!” Great. She’s learning from me how to make threats.

Osama walked us to the car and buckled the children into their car seats while I arranged our provisions for the trip on the seat beside me – water, sandwiches, fruit and “healthy chocolate” balls. We drove west, toward the town of Beitunia and the villages of Ein Arik and Dir Ibzi’, from which we would drive to Modi'in and then Tel Aviv.

By the time we reached Dir Ibzi’, Adam and Forat had devoured eight healthy chocolate balls, six melted cheese sandwich quarters and a peach and a half. Adam fell asleep. The food revived Forat, who began peppering me with questions.

“Ima, is there something that there isn’t in Philadelphia but there is everywhere else in the world?” I thought the question stemmed from the things she was re-discovering here, things she forgot during our stay in the U.S., like humus and falafel from the neighborhood restaurant, okra, sahleb and za’atar with olive oil.