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I will sell my dream to the highest bidder

Tuesday 1 June 2004, by Daoud Boulos

My oldest daughter Ranin*, 18 years old, came home one day very agitated and in tears. Her blond hair, fair complexion and fashionable jeans did not help, nor her perfect Hebrew. She was wearing a cross.

It was a week that witnessed several suicidal attacks by Palestinians against Israeli civilian targets inside Israel. The general atmosphere was that of fear and suspicion; travelers who had no choice by to ride public transportation, a major target for these attacks, got on the buses anticipating the worst.

She graduated this summer from the Orthodox Arab high school in the city of Ramleh; where she had taken the bus home on what would remain in her memory as a nightmare ride. The bus ride is about 25 minutes to the Latrun Monastery junction. She would call me on her cell phone to pick her up from the junction and drive home to the nearby village of Neve Shalom/Wahat As-Salam, a Jewish-Arab cooperative village. I moved to live in this pioneering village in 1989, to live side by side with Jewish residents to share life and experiences and to show the world that co-existence is possible through mutual respect and true equality. Ranin was raised in this village on values that are somewhat foreign to her peers outside the village, where Arabs and Jews hardly meet. She had taken this bus numerous times and even the drivers got to know her.
When she got on the bus, an older woman sitting behind the driver eyed her with scrutiny and her eyes stopped at the cross she was wearing, which gave her away as non-Jewish. She yelled at the driver: “you better check her bag.” The driver did not respond and Ranin proceeded to take a seat. The other passengers who heard the woman’s remark became alert and began throwing racist remarks at Ranin and accusing her and her people of murdering women and children.

Ranin was brought up in a village which raised the flag of tolerance and co-existence; most of her friends are Jewish, she speaks Hebrew; at times I think better than her mother tongue Arabic. She is also far from being naïve; the reality outside the village is very much part of her life, as a growing adult Ranin realizes that the idealistic approach to the conflict by Neve Shalom/wahat As-Salam would remain controversial for years to come. My late father used to tell me: “I hope for your generation you will be able to live in peace.” I find myself saying the same thing to my children, but after her experience Ranin has no reason to believe me.

* Ranin Boulos, 19, is a first year student of Theater Studies at the Hebrew university in Jerusalem. She joined the Arab/Jewish theater “As-Saraya” in Jaffa-Tel Aviv where she has been acting in a number of stage productions.

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