Schneider Aviel

Joshua and Ahmed

Joshua and Ahmed are two very different people. The first is a Jew and Israeli, the second Muslim and Egyptian

Shiya and Ahmed. Photo: Aviel Schneider

Joshua is 72-years-old and Ahmed 38. Joshu’s nickname is Shiya. The two didn’t know each other until a few days ago. Shiya is retired and Ahmed works as a taxi driver in the south of the Sinai Peninsula. Shiya is a close friend of mine and I’ve known Ahmed for years. Every time we are in Sinai we meet with Ahmed. And this time Shiya and Ahmed met. Shiya served as an Israeli officer in Sinai some 50 years ago. Sinai was under Israeli rule for 15 years (from 1967 to 1982). Shiya served in Santa Katarina and was for a long time the commander in charge of Jebel Musa (The Mountain of Moses). He was also stationed on the southern tip of the peninsula in Ras Mohammed and on the beach of Kibbutz Ofira, which is now Sharm El Sheikh. He hadn’t been to Sinai since the 1970s.

Now he came with me and met my Arab friend Ahmed. Ahmed also served in Sinai 20 years ago as a young Egyptian soldier. Ahmed originally comes from the Egyptian city of Al Mansoura, about 80 kilometers north of Cairo. Ahmed served in the Sharm El Sheikh area for two years and fell in love with the area. He got married after his service in Al Mansoura. His family lives in the Delta and he works in Sinai.

Shiya and Ahmed both served in Sinai at different times, following their orders, those of the Israeli or Egyptian army. Shiya and Ahmed met for the first time on the motorboat bound for the island of Tiran between Sharm El Sheikh and Saudi Arabia. In a very open conversation, it came out how both of them experienced Sinai when they were young. Fifty years ago Sinai was a lonely desert with empty beaches, with only Bedouin, Israeli soldiers and a few Israelis living there. By the time Ahmed was serving in Sinai, there were already numerous resorts and hotels in Sharm and Dahab. At that time there was already a road to Santa Katarina in Wadi Firan. At the time of Shiya, everything was desert and dust. Wadi Firan was offroad.

Life is dynamic and times change. Now Schiya and Ahmed are sitting together and are happy to have met each other. This is something that should encourage us. And if you ask the Bedouins which soldiers they liked better, Israeli or Egyptian, they answer…. But I’ll write about that another time. By the way, Shiya and Ahmed send you greetings. I promised both of them to write a short story about the photo.

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